Disability group warns suicide bill 'wrong way'

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Disability campaigners yesterday warned MSPs that proposals to legalise assisted suicide will make "death a better choice".

They told a special Holyrood committee set up to look into Independent MSP Margo MacDonald's bill that it would take Scotland down the "wrong route".

Ms MacDonald, who has Parkinson's disease, wants to change the law that leaves Scots open to prosecution for culpable homicide. But Pam Duncan of the disability group Inclusion Scotland hit out at the proposal.

She said parliament and local council body Cosla had signed up to a "vision for Scotland" to give disabled people more control over their lives. "That requires that we set up structures to support that - not that we make death a better choice.

"I believe we are going down the wrong route. We are distracting from the fact that disabled people are under-represented in education, that their lives are placed as having less value than other people's."

She pointed to the case of 23-year-old rugby player Daniel James, who was helped by his family to kill himself in a Swiss clinic two years ago after being paralysed in a training accident.

Ms Duncan said: "It was considered that had he not been a disabled person, his choice to end his life at that age would've been inappropriate."

Johanna McCulloch from the Scottish Disability Equality Forum said a majority of its members supported assisted dying in principle.