Assisted suicide law change bid



Margo MacDonald says the terminally ill should have choices





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A campaign to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland is being launched by Independent MSP Margo MacDonald.
The Lothian MSP, who has Parkinson's Disease, hopes to bring legislation before the parliament next year.
She is sending out a consultation paper and needs the support of at least 18 MSPs at Holyrood.
Mrs MacDonald, 65, said people should have the right to choose the time and place of their death and she called for a debate on the issue.
Her proposals would incorporate the patient's right to choose to end his or her life, with assistance, into the principles of palliative care.
Mrs MacDonald said: "I'm doing this, not has an individual who suffers from a degenerative condition.
"I am doing this as a legislator, a law maker, who has the privilege of being able to represent people and make things the way people would like things to be.
"I am absolutely convinced from my postbag that people do want, at the very least, to have a debate on this area of life. "Dying is part of life. It is just the end part."



However, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said previously that she was "not persuaded" the law should be changed to make assisted suicide legal.
Ms Sturgeon said that she was not sure sufficient safeguards could be put in place to prevent the system from being abused.
Mrs Macdonald said her proposed system would be "physician-assisted" suicide.
Dr George Fearnie, from the British Medical Association in Scotland, said he had "enormous sympathy" for terminally ill patients but he said that assisting with suicide was not a role he wanted physicians to take on.
He said: "We are a caring profession - what we don't want is people not to be reassured that the profession are there doing their best for them - to worry about the motives of that doctor.
"People who have a debilitating illness which might end their lives are extremely vulnerable and our worry is that they're going to contemplate ending their lives when that really isn't their wish.
"I've never shirked my duty of administering pain relieving medication even if that hastens the death of someone - what is being asked here is something rather beyond that and I don't believe society wants us to assume that position."
The leader of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, said it was not up to us to decide when we die. He said: "Life is a gift from Almighty God, given us through Almighty God through the cooperation of our parents. "If God gives us that gift, He can take that from us but we're not taking it from Him and as it were saying, 'well God, I'm finished with life because I can't cope with cancer or Parkinson's or whatever it has to be'. We just wait on God calling us to himself."




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