I WAS deeply concerned to read that a new assisted suicide bill has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament ("Holyrood set for new battle in bid to legalise assisted dying", The Herald, June 21). This is because if a society accepts assisted suicide, it also means that it accepts that some lives are unworthy of life. In other words, it means accepting, for the very first time in Scotland, the principle that not all lives are equal in value and worth. And this would be a very dangerous precedent.

Moreover, the assisted suicide lobby uses the argument of compassion, but from the Latin, this means suffering with a person, not making sure his or her life is ended. In fact, there is always something palliative care can do to address suffering even in the most difficult of cases.

The real argument behind assisted suicide is one which demands absolute autonomy. But having the absolute right to decide that one’s life is unworthy of life logically means that one can believe that another person’s life, in a similar situation, would be unworthy of life, which completely undermines civilised society.

Dr Calum MacKellar, Director of Research, Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, Edinburgh.


SOMETIMES the best of intentions leads to some cruel results. The NHS has provided excellent care over the years since its humanitarian inception. Getting basic medical care no longer relied on your income, which was a major step in the right direction. Many miracles of healing were achieved. As a patient I have benefited several times from the dedication of NHS staff and have been grateful.

Why am I talking of cruel results?

The harsh truth is medical care cannot halt the inevitable advance of age when individuals cannot care for themselves. Hospital treatment is no longer beneficial for these patients, but where will they go? Politicians have not faced up to the problem of bed blocking.

Social care in the community is inadequate and expensive. Idealists claim we are a rich country and must care for old people but how will that be achieved? Many of the elderly end their days back in their own homes with short daily visits from over-worked social staff. The lucky ones get visits from friends and family, but many don’t have that luxury.

I’m interested in this problem as I’m 90 years old and each day adds to my incapacities in sight, hearing, mobility and balance. I have many friends and a loving family. I’m not depressed but increasingly I feel it’s nearly time to bow out. I should be allowed that choice.

Legal structures could, and should, be put in place to allow the aged to exit when life has become intolerable. That would be the ultimate compassion.

Mary Bruce, Greenock.


MARGARET Baisden (Letters, June 16) rightly suggests that Campbell-Swinton should be recognised as the inventor of TV as established in practice, but there isn't the remotest chance of this happening.

Just for instance: the separate condenser, almost always attributed to James Watt – a narrow-minded man who did much to inhibit adoption of the steam engine – was invented by Samuel Hall, who is now totally forgotten.

"Boyle's Law" was formulated by Robert Hooke, who was also responsible for much of what is credited to Isaac Newton and Christopher Wren. Many of Newton's other alleged discoveries were made by Edmund Halley, the man who didn't discover the comet that bears his name. (Yes, I know that he did something much cleverer.)

It is fair to say that most of what is taught in schools, when it isn't useless for a majority of pupils (the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides) and taught only because it is convenient to test, is erroneous, being retailed by teachers using textbooks carelessly thrown together by publishers' hacks, most of whom knew as much about the things they dealt with as I know about the Shanghai stock market.

Most people have lazy brains, and greatly prefer to continue to believe the nonsense they were originally told than trouble themselves with facts unearthed by people with genuine interest in their subjects.

Robin Dow, Rothesay.


I AM sad to note a 23-year-old male being jailed for 16 months for an admitted embezzlement offence ("Gambling addict who embezzled £223,000 is jailed", The Herald, June 21). Assuming this is a first offence, and with the admission of guilt and, not least of all, given that some two-thirds of the amount has been repaid, surely a non-custodial sentence could have been made?

Whilst gambling is not in any way a crime in itself it certainly features in the collapse of many relationships. Treatment and understanding of such a pernicious habit is preferable to incarceration, especially when contrition is shown and a willingness to make restitution.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.


CREDIT is due to Doug Marr for highlighting the various vicissitudes endured by the elderly: health, economic, mobility, and digital exclusion, to mention only a few ("Upheaval due to coronavirus can only add to the elderly’s age-old ills", The Herald, June 21).

Born in the mid-1930s, I’ll be old myself some day.

R Russell Smith, Largs.