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Assisted suicides campaign to present petition to MSPs

THOUSANDS of people have called on Holyrood to permit loved ones to help people suffering from intolerable, incurable illnesses to end their own life.

The My Life, My Death, My Choice campaign will today present a petition signed by 2,500 people urging MSPs to pass the Assisted Suicide Bill, conceived by late independent MSP Margo MacDonald who died in April following a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

Green co-convener Patrick Harvie has pledged to take the Bill forward, with the support of Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw, Labour MSP Mary Fee and SNP MSP Bill Kidd.

The presentation comes with the deadline for submissions to the Health and Sport Committee consultation on the Bill ending on Friday.

The campaign was launched at the start of the year on the back of a poll which showed that 69 per cent of Scots voters want the Bill to become law.

Since then, campaigners have taken the debate to the four Scottish political party conferences where they claim to have secured wide cross-party and public support for the Bill.

Campaign spokeswoman Shelia Duffy said: "The petition handover demonstrates the level of support there is for the Bill across Scotland. As our campaign has progressed it has become increasingly clear that public support for a change in the law is at an all-time high and this issue is very much something that needs to be looked at closely."

Ms MacDonald failed to get a previous Assisted Suicide Bill through the last parliament, but was re-elected in 2011 on a mandate to resurrect it.

The Free Church has condemned plans to allow healthy 16-year-olds to make assisted suicide pledges. They claim patients suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes and multiple sclerosis "could be pressured into assisted suicide".

Rev Dr Donald MacDonald, a former surgeon who has multiple sclerosis, said the proposals regarding 16-year-olds were "unacceptable".

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