73% back Margo MacDonald’s assisted suicide Bill

Margo MacDonald. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Margo MacDonald. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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ALMOST three-quarters of people in Lothian back the legalisation of assisted suicide, according to a new poll published today.

A total of 73 per cent said they wanted the Scottish Parliament to pass Independent Lothian MSP Margo MacDonald’s Bill to give people suffering from terminal or degenerative conditions the legal right to get help to end their life in certain circumstances.

Support for the new law is even stronger here than in Scotland as a whole, where 69 per cent backed the Bill.

The poll findings were revealed as a new campaign – My Life, My Death, My Choice – was launched in support of the proposed legislation.

The campaign is led by the Humanist Society Scotland and Fate (Friends at the End) and members of the public have been asked to urge their MSPs to vote in favour of the new law.

Retired doctor Bob Scott, spokesman for the campaign, called on the politicians to “pay attention” to the results of the survey – carried out by Progressive Scottish Opinion earlier this month – and pass the Bill as soon as possible.

He said: “This poll result shows there is a large amount of support for the Assisted Suicide Bill in Scotland. Even with the excellent palliative care available in Scotland, a small number of patients are unable to have their intolerable suffering relieved. We want to ensure that people are provided with appropriate information to make their own individual choices and, in certain limited circumstances, given assistance to end their life.”

Across Scotland, 69 per cent backed the Bill while 13 per cent were against and 18 per cent were undecided. In Lothian, 73 per cent supported it, 11 per cent were opposed and 16 per cent undecided.

The Bill is Ms MacDonald’s second attempt to change the law to give people the right to die. Her previous attempt was vetoed during the last parliament and the current proposal has been changed significantly.

Under the Bill, anyone over 16 could inform their GP of their support in principle for assisted suicide and a note would be placed on their file. If and when the patient found life had become intolerable and fell into one of the categories specified they could formally ask their GP for the process of an assisted death to be started.

A second professional opinion would be required, then there would be a 14-day “cooling off” period before the patient had to make the request again.

The doctor would then write a prescription for the medication and withdraw from the process. It would be up to a trained “facilitator” or “friend at the end” to collect the prescription and agree the process of assisted suicide.