Scotland politics

MSP brings back proposals to legalise assisted dying

Margo MacDonald
Image caption Margo MacDonald believes more of her colleagues now support the case for assisted dying

Independent MSP Margo MacDonald is to bring back proposals to allow people the legal right to assisted suicide.

She has received the necessary 18 signatures from other MSPs to press ahead with a fresh bill. Her previous attempt to legalise assisted dying was defeated.

Ms MacDonald believes the public now have a better awareness of the issue.

The Lothians MSP, who has Parkinson's disease, has claimed there is public support for a change in the law.

Ms MacDonald's bill would allow people whose lives became intolerable through a progressive degenerative condition, a trauma or terminal illness to seek a doctor's help in dying. It also proposed a series of safeguards which would prevent abuse of the legislation.

Ms MacDonald hopes that high profile cases like that of Tony Nicklinson in England, who had locked-in syndrome and battled for years for a legal right to end his life, will have raised awareness of the issue.

She said: "I found more MSPs than last time considering giving support to my bill.

"I believe the bill will benefit from the developments in understanding assisted death, due in large part to legal challenges in England."

Last year, the Commission on Assisted Dying - set up and funded by campaigners who want to see a change in the law in England and Wales - said the current system was "inadequate".

Ms MacDonald said she hopes this new bill will win the backing of more MSPs than her first attempt in December 2010, which failed to secure the necessary support to progress.

The new bill is likely to be published early in 2013.

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