Archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conti speaks out against MSP's right to die bill proposal

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ONE of Scotland's senior Catholics has publicly opposed MSP Margo MacDonald's efforts to change the law on assisted dying.

The Archbishop of Glasgow, the Most Reverend Mario Conti, said her bill on legalising assisted suicide is "wrong in principle".

The veteran MSP, who has Parkinson's disease, launched the End Of Life Choices Bill last month.

If passed, it will allow anyone aged over 16 to request help to die and would make Scotland the first part of Britain to change the law, which currently leaves Scots open to prosecution for culpable homicide if they assist a suicide bid.

Archbishop Conti told a Mass for healthcare workers in Cardonald, Glasgow, on Sunday:

"It is truly said that 'hard cases make bad laws' and for that reason I am opposed to Margo MacDonald's End Of Life Assistance Bill.

"Courts can take mitigating circumstances into account. Laws need to be objective in their statement of principle. It is wrong in principle for someone to take their own life; it is wrong in principle for someone to help them to do so."

Ms MacDonald's bill stipulates that the person who wishes to die must be diagnosed as terminally ill or permanently physically incapacitated, and finds life intolerable. They must also have been registered with a GP in Scotland for at least 18 months.

Ms MacDonald, who has said she would like to be allowed to bring about her own death if her condition deteriorated, previously said: "This bill is meant … to give those people the autonomy to exercise some control over how they die … and to protect the people that give assistance."

She said of Archibishop Conti's remarks: "I have no intention of attempting to persuade Catholics to abandon their practices because I've met too many good people, who are practising Catholics, who have told me they have accommodated the right to die a peaceful death in the circumstances outlined in my bill.

"Everyone can make up their own mind on this question."