KEVIN McKenna features the risks, provisos and contraindications to the provision of the legal right to assisted dying ("Davidson’s push for assisted dying opens a Pandora’s box", The Herald, December 11). However, the core of the issue is the choice and volition of the individual as regards their own end of life. The other issues have relevant peripheral validity, but should not override provision of that core factor and choice.

Many die in, or after, prolonged acute pain and suffering, and that can be mental and psychological torture where they are largely dependent on others and are too restricted in freedom to participate in the interests and activities which give meaning to their lives. And extreme physical pain and suffering are frequently "relieved" by powerful drugs which leave little cognitive or physical capacity to give any life-quality or meaningful functioning.

We do have a modern health service which will process you through protocols and procedures in a clinical environment, and similarly relieve the extreme pain and suffering of what is, for the patient, a functionally meaningless existence with no prospect of relief. Many would prefer a more personal and compassionate environment and circumstances, and, primarily, the element of personal choice. Their individual choice should indeed not otherwise undermine the right to life of others who are elderly, frail or disabled.

The intention is to provide individuals with the comfort and dignity of action to be exercised at their discretion and at a time of their choosing. That frequently makes their remaining time more bearable and prolonged, knowing that the comfort of action, and its timing, are available when they need it. Suffering and illness are indeed part of life. The issue arises when this reaches the stage that it is all that comprises life, with no prospect of release or of an existence valued by the individual.

The factors which need recognition and consideration are the rights and choice of the individual, understanding of the human condition, the existence of alternative and valid viewpoints, and humanity, mercy and compassion: the very factors of being human which raise the issue in the first place, and can provide the solutions.

Norman Dryden, Edinburgh.

* KEVIN McKenna's argument, as with all opposed to the principle of assisted dying, is based on “what if” and “perhaps”.

In the enlightened countries and states which have enshrined this most fundamental and final human right in law, I see no inclination to repeal the legislation.

John NE Rankin, Bridge of Allan.


SURELY Stuart Waiton's article ("Parents must be heard on sex education in schools", The Herald, December 15) must evoke a reaction from parents everywhere in Scotland. To outsource much of family learning to schools and financial responsibility to government is, at best, highly questionable but if sex education is to be left to schools and the present survey is an example of values, then I suggest that we might as well abandon all hope of raising a generation whose lifestyle has its foundations and ethic within the family and simply depend on some state breeding programme being introduced to safeguard a future workforce for society.

Is this the price that has to be paid for our "new" (since the 1970s) secular society which has increasingly abandoned the religious moral code in favour of minority rights and preferences? It is time for the silent majority to wake up and speak out.

James Watson, Dunbar.


ANYONE who had any doubt that Police Scotland had become overly political need only read of recent decisions about the recording of rapes and the comments of senior officers to justify this course of action.

Police Scotland has apparently decided that, in future, it will record rapes by offenders with male genitalia as being committed by a woman if the attacker "born male obtains a full gender recognition certificate" or "identifies as a female". I would suggest that the first depends on when the attacker obtains the GRC vis a vis the crime and the second is ridiculous but it does comply with the SNP Government's delayed reforms of the Gender Recognition Act.

Such a woke decision makes an absolute nonsense of the Sexual Offences Act, which defines rape as "non-consensual penetration with a penis".

The police have, in the past, have been criticised for massaging crime statistics, often to make their performance look better, but this latest road they are going down is confusing, bewildering and could dangerously skew crime statistics.

It is difficult not to conclude that they are bending to the will of their political masters.

W MacIntyre, East Kilbride.


AS Storm Arwen swept across the nation the wind industry was paid almost £5 million to switch off its turbines. Since 2010 the turbine owners have pocketed more than £1 billion of these "constraint payments", a major cause of escalating electricity bills. Paid to produce electricity, paid to not produce electricity. A nice little earner, as Del Boy would say.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.


IT’S sad to see man’s best friend demoted to the environmental doghouse over its supposed carbon pawprint (Letters, December 14), and I welcome the wise appreciation of Grant Aitchison for Rover, Ben, little Fido et al (Letters, December 15 ).

For 14 good years Murphy our retriever was No 2 son, happy, eager to please, and best pal to all.

The plaque on the bedroom wall, “My goal in life is to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am", says it all.

R Russell Smith, Largs.