A disability campaign group is to protest tomorrow against a Scottish assisted suicide bill, declaring that disabled people want assistance to live.
Inclusion Scotland is demonstrating outside the Scottish Parliament from 9.30am against the controversial End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill which is spearheaded by Margo MacDonald MSP.
The group is set to give evidence tomorrow to the Holyrood committee which is considering the Bill. Pro-euthanasia organisations and pro-life group Care Not Killing Scotland are also set to give evidence.
In its submission to the Holyrood committee, Inclusion Scotland warned that the Bill will “begin a journey that ends in an accepted culture of ‘mercy killing’ of disabled people”.
The group also called on the Scottish Parliament to commit to “safeguarding and investing in care & support services” so that disabled people can “live their lives to their full potential”.
It also commented: “The focus must shift from assisted dying to the more humane concept of Assisted Living. That is the valuing of all lives irrespective of impairment and the provision of high quality palliative care.”
Last week it emerged Mrs MacDonald was set to drop a proposal in the Bill to allow disabled people to seek assistance to kill themselves. However those with a terminal illness would still be allowed to seek assistance in ending their lives if the Bill became law.
In response Inclusion Scotland said it would be pleased if the disabled clause was ditched but still oppose any change of the law.
Earlier this month it was also revealed that the majority of doctors are steadfastly opposed to the legalisation of assisted suicide in Scotland, according to a British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland submission to the Holyrood committee.
Last week Dr Tony Calland, Chair of the BMA’s Medical Ethics Committee warned against the Bill.
He cautioned: “Once you’ve crossed the rubicon of changing the law to allow premeditated hastening of the death of another person, you can never go back.”
Dr Calland also said that if legislation allowing assisted suicide was passed it would inevitably “creep” into other areas.
Earlier this month Elaine Stevens, from the Independent Association of Nurses in Palliative Care, asked: “Does Scotland really want to be recognised as a ‘death tourism’ destination?”
She also warned that people would register with doctors who took part in the scheme, even if they didn’t live in the area.
In June over 14,000 people signed a Care not Killing petition against the Bill. John Deighan, parliamentary officer for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland said it showed a “real groundswell of Scottish opinion”.
Assisted suicide is currently illegal in Scotland and anyone involved in assisting suicide may be charged with culpable homicide.
MSPs are set to be given a free vote on the Bill in November.