By Kathleen Gilbert

EDINBURGH, December 10, 2008 ( – Despite attracting little support from colleagues, Scottish Parliament Member Margo McDonald is continuing to fight for a bill to legalize assisted suicide. McDonald’s bill is so broad that it would entitle children of 12 and younger to choose to kill themselves.

McDonald held a consultation yesterday on the End of Life Choices (Scotland) Bill in an effort to garner more support.  So far, McDonald has the support of only three other Parliament members, whereas eighteen are needed for the bill to merit review at Holyrood. 

During the consultation, McDonald said that the age limit for assisted suicide consent should coincide with the age when children are allowed to decide which parent to live with after a divorce. Children older than 12 are typically consulted in Scotland’s custody battles, with exceptions occasionally made for younger children deemed mature enough.

In a sound byte available on the online version of the Herald, McDonald, who suffers from Parkinson’s, said it is “absolutely inhumane” and “cruel” not to allow ailing individuals access to lethal drugs.  She claims that she has received large amounts of correspondence supporting her initiative to allow patients to ask doctors for assistance in dying.  Euthanasia campaigners in Scotland, according to the Herald, say there is a “small but significant” demand among Scots.

MacDonald said: “There are lots of people up and down Scotland who would like to make sure that they miss the last – and for them most intolerable – part of life, because of incapacity, loss of dignity, loss of control, insufferable pain perhaps.”

McDonald suggested that Scottish doctors already underhandedly administer lethal amounts of painkillers to suffering patients with the understanding that the patient wishes to die.  “I think some doctors are happy that that area of ambiguity should remain,” she said, “but other doctors would rather be protected by the law.”

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said she was against assisted suicide, and noted she was not convinced that a law granting immunity to doctors killing their patients could be adequately modified to safeguard against abuses.

Ms. MacDonald began her campaign in March when she entreated Parliament to legalize assisted suicide so that she could seek death if her disease caused life to become unbearable.

Earlier attempts to introduce euthanasia legislation at Holyrood have met with a similar lack of enthusiasm. Jeremy Purvis, the Liberal Democrat Parliament member, drafted “mercy killing” legislation in 2004 but also failed to find support among colleagues.

Assisted suicide is illegal in the entire U.K.  However, legislation dealing with assisted suicide, known as the Coroners and Justice Bill, is scheduled for consideration in the British Parliament, though the scope of the bill is yet unclear.