THE HERALD of January 5 carried two items on the subject of assisted dying.

One related to comments by the former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Jim Wallace, now the Moderator of the General Assembly, and the other was an opinion article by Iain Macwhirter (“We must bring honesty to the debate about assisted dying”).

Firstly, the current Assisted Dying Bill is a private member’s bill put forward by one LibDem MSP, and in no way reflects LibDem party policy.

There are many members and supporters of the LibDems who firmly oppose the proposals being put forward in this bill.

It is not just people with religious convictions who oppose euthanasia. It is opposed also by many who see what is happening in other countries that have previously brought in euthanasia laws, with all their supposed safeguards, who are now widening out proposals for those who might be included in categories able to access euthanasia services.

The fact that some people want this service doesn’t mean we should legislate for it.

My own view is that we should never legislate to say that a member of the medical profession must kill another human being, even if that person wants it.

There are those who say that many safeguards will be put in place, both for the medical profession and to protect those who may, in time, be vulnerable either to persuasion by others, directly or indirectly, to end their lives.

Reading Iain Macwhirter’s article, while he (I think) is suggesting we might want to go down this road, is as good an argument as any for reasons why we absolutely should not agree to this legislation.

Actions in The Netherlands, Belgium and elsewhere show that, once started, this opens the way to the “slippery slope”, as some people call it. It’s worth reading.

If you want to commit suicide, so be it. If you want to use the services of Dignitas, so be it. Sad, but that is your choice.

But don’t ask anyone else to do it for you, and wrap up the actions in words which pretend it is something else. And don’t legislate to allow this action to be taken by the population at large.

This is about killing another human being, and is not an action which you should ask anyone else to do for you, particularly in our medical profession.

Councillor Eileen McCartin MBE, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Paisley.




YOUR recent coverage of the sensitive issue of assisted dying has highlighted the deeply-held views of parties on both sides of the argument. Of course there must be debate, much of which will be theoretical and none the worse for that.

I write, however, with a plea that the suffering of those who genuinely wish for an end to their lives, and for whom there is no hope of recovery or effective palliative care, should be remembered at every stage of this debate.

The pain, discomfort and constant nausea suffered by my mother as she died of lung cancer could not be eradicated by even the strongest medication, and even the kindest, best-informed care of the professional staff around her could not make her comfortable.

The suffering of those whose illnesses are incurable is immediate, not something that can be put off until such time as a decision about assisted dying has been taken.

We must of course have full and open debate on such a difficult matter, but I look forward to a decision sooner rather than later, given the extensive coverage of it as Liam McArthur’s Bill progresses through the Scottish parliament.

Wendy Bellars, Pittenweem.




I AM disappointed to find three articles in the Herald over the past two days, all in opposition to the provisions in MSP Liam McArthur’s Bill on Assisted Dying.

I am writing for the opposite perspective, as a supporter of the Bill to give those with a terminal illness with no hope of a cure, but who are still mentally competent, a choice about the time and manner of their death.

There is no evidence that the current blanket ban on assisted dying protects the vulnerable people who are the concern of some opposed to the Bill.

There is, however, evidence that many people with terminal illness, like my mother with motor neurone disease, for which there is no cure, would have liked to choose the time and manner of her death without involving any of her family in an illegal act.

We also know that some terminally ill Scots are being forced to travel abroad to access assisted dying. Some are suffering as they die at home, and some even feel forced to end their own lives due to a lack of choice in Scotland.

Dying people do not just want this choice for themselves, but want to protect their loved ones from witnessing them suffer a bad death, the effects of which can be traumatising and long-lasting.

Fiona McOwan, Limekilns, Fife.




GREAT strides have been made to protect the rights of the living, but those of the dying have been left behind with current laws that are inhumane and undemocratic, and abuse every citizen’s rights.

I have traumatically witnessed “bad deaths” of loved ones against their confirmed wishes and as someone who lives with disabilities (currently not life-threatening), my choices when dying should be recognised.

It is time for Scotland to join with compassionate democracies such as New Zealand and Oregon in reforming the law to allow choice of safeguarded medical assistance in dying, for mentally competent, terminally ill adults.

Liam McArthur’s proposals are about protecting and safeguarding individual choice when nearing death, in addition to investment in excellent palliative care, not instead of it. Those opposed (for religious reasons or otherwise) should have their individual choices safeguarded also, but should not be allowed to dictate mine or anyone else’s.

Of course, safeguards are necessary – and the proposals provide robust ones. But objections on the basis of “slippery slope” or excuses that putting the work into enforcing those safeguards will take effort, is lazy, abusive law-making.

Talk of “killing” and “assisted suicide” is dangerously misrepresentative. Choice of assisted dying is not about ending life, but compassionately supporting informed, verified individual choice in ending death.

To default to the current regressive laws condemns too many dying people to futilely torturous deaths, despite every palliative care possible, against their confirmed choice. The choices of the dying matter.

Caroline Brocklehurst, Giffnock, Glasgow.




NO -ONE wants rid of this rancid government and mess of a Prime Minister more than I do. However, Keir Starmer’s recent speech shows that he lacks political instinct.

Nowhere was this more evident than when parading his patriotism, with multiple references to the Queen at a time when even hard-line royalists are questioning the use of royal funds (the ultimate in misguided welfare payments) being used to shield ‘Randy Andy’, as he was playfully called by the pop press back in the day.

Then there’s Starmer’s defence of Tony Blair’s knighthood. Yes, Blair has been given a free pass by the media despite the Chilcot Report, and has even been lauded for his entirely wrong advice on the vaccine (turns out it was Gordon Brown who was correct – we are not safe until everywhere in the world has vaccines).

The media is not the people, and the people despise Blair.

Yes, Starmer also had a go at the dreadful Corbyns, but he still sounds like a man looking over his shoulder for inspiration rather than looking like a leader.

Amanda Baker, Edinburgh.




IN this brave new world we must never underestimate the power of British or English nationalism.

In the 1980s the dogmatic force of Margaret Thatcher prepared the way for a devolved Scottish Parliament.

In the 2020s the corrupt chaos of Boris Johnson will pave the way for an independent Scotland; probably also the same for Wales, along with a united Ireland.

In modern times, with plummeting personal polls, Boris is possibly the worst Prime Minister ever. However, like Maggie, he is a positive catalyst for Scottish independence.

Tory party leaders remain opposed to devolution and continue to undermine it, even as Boris talks up his “precious” four nations.

The fact is, English nationalism now controls the Tory and Labour parties as the disaster of Brexit continues to create havoc throughout the UK.

Grant Frazer, Cruachan, Newtonmore.