THE founder of assisted suicide clinic Dignitas and the widow of locked-in-syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson are to speak at a conference in Edinburgh this week organised by Margo MacDonald.
In a rare public appearance, Swiss lawyer Ludwig Minelli, who set up Dignitas in 1998, will take part in the event at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on Friday.
He will speak alongside Jane Nicklinson, who campaigned with her husband for the legal right for him to end his life at a time of his choosing, with a doctor’s help.
Also speaking at the half-day conference will be Sir Graeme Catto, chair of Dignity in Dying and emeritus professor of medicine at Aberdeen University; Dr Libby Wilson, convener and medical director of Friends at the End; and the Rev Scott McKenna, minister of Edinburgh’s Mayfield Parish Church.
Ms MacDonald is currently drawing up a Bill on assisted suicide to present to the Scottish Parliament and she hopes the conference will help her settle the detail of the proposed measure. She wants the law changed so people who find their lives intolerable due to a terminal illness or condition have the legal right to ask for help to end their own life.
A previous attempt to change the law was rejected by MSPs.
Ms MacDonald said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to bring this conference to Edinburgh because the people who will be there are the real experts who can talk knowledgeably and with experience about the need for the provision which my Bill should contain.
“There are a small number of people every year who cannot be palliated into a peaceful, dignified death – people such as Tony Nicklinson, who suffered from locked-in syndrome.
“It will also be refreshing to hear first hand from the founder of Dignitas in Switzerland. Ludwig Minelli’s views have been interpreted differently by different commentators and it will do no harm to allow him to set the record straight at our conference.”