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Euthanasia opponents form coalition ahead of new Holyrood bill

Independent MSP Margo MacDonald will launch The Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill on Thursday.

Assisted suicide: Second bid to pass legislation.
© STV

Opponents of euthanasia will meet fellow campaigners from across Europe as they prepare to speak out against further attempts to legislate for assisted suicide at Holyrood.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Europe (EPC-Europe) is being launched in Brussels, bringing together organisations which are against assisted suicide, including the CARE Not Killing group in Scotland.

The founding of the coalition comes as independent MSP Margo MacDonald gets ready to officially launch her members' bill, The Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill, on Thursday.

Ms MacDonald's previous attempt, in 2010, to legalise assisted dying in Scotland failed when Holyrood voted 85 to 16 against her proposal.

The former SNP politician, who has Parkinson's disease, said she has learned lessons from her previous attempt and is proposing a "clearer, more straightforward process".

Her latest Bill is opposed by CARE Not Killing, an umbrella group of around 40 professional, faith and human rights groups.

CARE Not Killing says Ms MacDonald's proposal is unethical and will put pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden upon others.

Group convener Dr Gordon Macdonald, who is attending the launch of EPC-Europe, said: "I welcome this new initiative to coordinate efforts across Europe to prevent the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

"The Scottish Parliament overwhelmingly rejected an attempt by Margo MacDonald to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2010.

"MSPs concluded that vulnerable people would be put at risk from such legislation. Scotland can learn from the damaging effects legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide in other parts of Europe and North America.

"Europe can learn from Scotland's example as a country which has rejected the view that some people lives are not worth living. We believe that society has a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable."

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick, co-ordinator of EPC-Europe, said: "The UK, France and Germany are currently considering legislation but overwhelming evidence from jurisdictions where euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is legal, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, demonstrates beyond doubt how quickly and easily euthanasia is extended to others, especially disabled people and elderly people."

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