A new assisted suicide Bill has been launched in Scotland, despite the previous attempt having been soundly defeated by MSPs.
Margo Macdonald’s new Bill comes as a Europe-wide campaign against euthanasia begins in Brussels.
Under the Independent MSP’s Bill, people as young as 16 with a terminal illness or progressive life-shortening condition would be allowed to tell their GP about their wish for assisted suicide.
Individuals, who would be known as “facilitators”, could also be licensed to collect lethal drugs for those who wish to die.
Dr Murdo Macdonald, from the Church of Scotland, said the church found the MSP’s plans to be “deeply disturbing, undermining as it does the need to offer care and comfort to all”.
In Brussels the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Europe (EPC – Europe) has warned that in other countries where euthanasia has been legalised, people have been killed who were not terminally ill.
Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick, the co-ordinator of the group, said euthanasia has “quickly and easily” been extended to disabled and elderly people.
In 2010 when Margo Macdonald’s End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill came before MSPs, they rejected it by 85 votes to 16.
Care Not Killing’s Gordon Macdonald, who also attended the launch of the new campaign group, said: “Europe can learn from Scotland’s example as a country which has rejected the view that some people lives are not worth living. We believe that society has a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable.”
In Belgium, where euthanasia is legalised, identical twins who were not terminally ill were killed by lethal injection.
Marc and Eddy Verbessem sought euthanasia after discovering they were both going blind. They were born deaf.
They believed their lives would not be worth living if they could not see each other, according to their brother.
A professor of medical ethics at Leuven in Belgium criticised the killing saying: “In a society as wealthy as ours, we must find another, caring way to deal with human frailty.”