People born with disabilities who ‘lose the will to live’ would be eligible to end their lives under controversial new legislation proposed for the Scottish Parliament.
This is the second attempt by Margo MacDonald MSP to legalise assisted suicide. Her first bill was roundly rejected by the Scottish Parliament.
But the Independent MSP now intends to table a new bill which critics have branded “utterly irresponsible”.
Mrs MacDonald has also suggested that people suffering from chronic conditions, but who do not have a terminal illness, should be able to get medical help to end their lives.
And she suggested that people who become disabled should also be able to opt for an assisted suicide.
However, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland warned: “This dramatic widening of the terms of the euthanasia debate highlights its terrible dangers. Yet it is the inevitable slope down which we would slide if we allow doctors to kill their patients.
“The scale of innocents who could be killed in Scotland would be massive if the disabled, people with chronic but not life-threatening conditions and those simply tired of life become part of the pool of candidates for death.”
But Mrs MacDonald said: “If their regime is acceptable to them and they’re enjoying their life, even with the limitations that they may have to put up with, nothing changes. The legislation is only enabling and if they don’t want to enable it, they don’t.
“But for people who are born with a disability, if they get to 16 or 18, or whatever we settle at, why should they be treated with any less respect for the decisions they make”.
Last month a survey by a leading disability charity found widespread concern that any change to the law on assisted suicide would result in presure being put on disabled people to end their lives.
Scope’s survey revealed that 70 per cent of those with a disability felt that such a change would create pressure for disabled people to “end their lives prematurely”.
And more than a third expressed concern that they would personally experience such pressure.