An Independent MSP has launched a second attempt to overturn the law against assisted suicide in Scotland, but critics warn it would set a dangerous precedent.
Margo MacDonald’s last attempt to legalise assisted suicide was soundly rejected in 2010 by 85 votes to 16.
Now the Lothians MSP has launched a consultation on a proposed new Bill which would allow those suffering from a terminal illness to end their life.
But Dr Calum MacKellar, director of research at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, said: “These proposals are asking the people of Scotland to agree that there are lives that should be ended.
“That there is such a thing as a ‘life unworthy of life’, which is a concept that should never be accepted in a civilised society.”
And a spokeswoman for the British Medical Association Scotland said: “The BMA is opposed to assisted suicide and physician-assisted suicide.
“Despite the fact that there have been some changes since the last Bill, we still oppose the Bill on principle.”
According to the contentious proposals, a patient would firstly have to sign a declaration stating that they want assistance to end their life. They would then need to make a formal request for an assisted suicide to their doctor.
The patient would then need to make a second request, between 14 and 28 days after their first formal request, at which point they would be given a prescription for lethal drugs.
The drugs would be collected by a “licensed facilitator” who would oversee the patient taking the drugs.
But Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said: “Nothing has changed. Deliberate killing, even when assisting someone who is in a state of despair, is always wrong.
“Additionally, the word ‘facilitators’, is a chilling euphemism to describe those who would oversee the actual killing.”
Margo MacDonald said: “My hope for this Bill is that MSPs, freed from the immediate pressure of an approaching election, will seek out and then reflect the views of those they represent at Holyrood. This question will not go away, and neither will I.”