02/11/2012 04:04 GMT | Updated 02/11/2012 04:07 GMT

Tony Nicklinson's Widow To Debate Legalising Assisted Suicide

The widow of campaigner Tony Nicklinson is to take part in a proposal to legalise assisted suicide.

Jane Nicklinson is appearing in Edinburgh with right-to-die supporter and politician Margo MacDonald in a bid to make Scotland the first part of the UK to change the law.

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Jane with her late husband Tony

Ludwig Minelli, founder of Swiss assisted dying organisation Dignitas, is also due to contribute.

Mr Nicklinson died in August days after he lost his High Court battle in England for the right to end his life.

The 47-year-old, who refused food in the days following the landmark case, was paralysed by a stroke in 2005.

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His wife wiped away Mr Nicklinson's tears as she told reporters they were "disappointed" with the ruling earlier this year

Ms MacDonald, an Independent MSP at Holyrood who has Parkinson's disease, hopes to persuade the Scottish Parliament to back her revised legislation, having already tried and failed to change the law under the last minority SNP administration.

"This is a very apt moment to stage what I think is the first ever meeting of its type in Scotland," she said.

"It's generally known that we are in the process of producing a Bill which represents our second attempt to change the law in Scotland so that assisting someone to commit suicide would no longer be a crime.

"The Bill we envisage will be slightly different from some of the other jurisdictions. For example, we visualise its use by people suffering from irrecoverable conditions for whom life has become intolerable, like Tony Nicklinson for example.

"This is where the conference will be especially useful to us and it will be very instructive for us to hear from those attending the conference feel about this and other aspects of our proposal."

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Tony Nicklinson preparing to give his statement after the ruling. His clear devastation in reaction to the verdict was difficult to watch

Other contributors at the conference are Sir Graeme Catto, chairman of Dignity in Dying and emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Aberdeen, and Dr Libby Wilson, convener and medical director of support group Friends at the End.

Ms MacDonald's original attempt to change the law resulted in a free vote, with no party political obligation, among all MSPs at Holyrood, including government ministers. It was defeated 16-85 in December 2010.

The End of Life Assistance Bill was considered by a specially convened committee which did not support the general principles.

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Tony Nicklinson with his wife. He and his family were the subject of Channel 4 documentary series Dispatches

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Tony Nicklinson pictured before the stroke which left him only able to communicate by blinking

Under the MSP's revised plan, Scotland would change the law which leaves people open to prosecution for culpable homicide.

Assisted suicide remains a criminal offence in England and Wales, punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Among Ms MacDonald's new proposals is a suggestion that a trained, "licensed facilitator", a so-called friend at the end, would have to be present when someone is at the point of ending their own life.

Such a measure is primarily aimed at making sure any fatal medication is taken correctly. A facilitator could be a doctor, social worker, or close friend but not a relative or anyone who stands to gain from the death.