THOUSANDS of people have called on Holyrood to permit loved ones to help people suffering from intolerable, incurable illnesses to end their own life.
The My Life, My Death, My Choice campaign will today present a petition signed by 2,500 people urging MSPs to pass the Assisted Suicide Bill, conceived by late independent MSP Margo MacDonald who died in April following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Green co-convener Patrick Harvie has pledged to take the Bill forward, with the support of Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw, Labour MSP Mary Fee and SNP MSP Bill Kidd.
The presentation comes as the deadline for submissions to the Health and Sport Committee consultation on the Bill comes to a close on Friday.
The campaign was launched at the start of the year on the back of a poll which showed that 69 per cent of Scots voters want the Bill to become law.
Since then, campaigners have carried out an ongoing campaign and taken the debate to the four Scottish political party conferences where they secured wide cross-party and public support for the Bill.
Campaign spokeswoman Sheila Duffy said: “The petition handover today demonstrates the level of support there is for the Bill across Scotland. As our campaign has progressed it has become increasingly clear that public support for a change in the law is at an all-time high and this issue is very much something that needs to be looked at closely.
“Over the last few months we have spoken to people across Scotland. People of all ages and ethnic backgrounds; from across the political spectrum; of different social and ethnic groups and of different religious beliefs.
“They have all told us the same thing: they want to have this choice should they ever find themselves in this intolerable position.”
“We would ask anybody who supports this Bill to visit our website at www.lifedeathchoice.org.uk where they can pledge their support, sign our petition and contact their MSPs.
“Even with the excellent palliative care available in Scotland, a small number of patients are unable to have their intolerable suffering relieved. We want to ensure that people are provided with appropriate information to make their own, individual, choices and, in certain limited circumstances, given assistance to end their life.”
Ms MacDonald failed to get a previous Assisted Suicide Bill through the last parliament, but was re-elected in 2011 on a mandate to resurrect the Bill.
The Free Church has condemned plans to allow healthy 16-year-olds to make assisted suicide pledges.
They claim patients suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes and multiple sclerosis “could be pressurised into assisted suicide”.
Rev Dr Donald MacDonald, a former surgeon who has multiple sclerosis, condemned proposals allowing 16-year-olds to make a “preliminary declaration” of intent for assisted suicide.
“This opens the door to encouraging thoughts of suicide at a vulnerable age, as well as softening up society to accept suicide as an acceptable way out of problem situations,” he said.
“At a time when the Scottish Government is commendably trying to reduce the suicide rate, this is unacceptable.”