AS a believer in God who was baptised in the Church of Scotland faith, I am disappointed in the opposition being launched by several high and powerful leaders in religious faiths in Scotland to MSP Liam McArthur’s proposed Assisted Dying Bill.

My own opinions on assisted dying are based on personal experience of watching my parents die from terminal illness, and the religious belief that a kind God would not wish to allow suffering.

I watched my parents, both of whom were given excellent palliative care throughout their illnesses, deal with the knowledge that they were dying. Both were incredibly brave.

However, all of that excellent care did not result in a peaceful and painless death for my father. The trauma and memory of it will remain, sadly, my last everlasting memory of him.

His final fight with a terminal illness was incredibly long; breathless, painful, distressing. He was crying and pleading for help to die as he struggled to breath. I have not watched any of my own animals even suffer in this way.

I know that, given the choice, my father would have chosen a far more peaceful option.

I recently read an article by the incredible Desmond Tutu, where he spoke in favour of giving choice to those who are terminally ill how to end their own lives, before the House of Lords debated this Bill.

He did not agree that the terminally ill should be in a position where they may suffer a painful death.

I cannot understand why anyone would oppose help being given to those people who are suffering and need our help the most.

Their choice of how, where, and with whom they wish to end their own lives peacefully should be an option, removing any fear of how their lives may end.

Over two hundred million people worldwide are already protected by this particular Bill that Liam McArthur is proposing.

The proof is there that it is not being abused or extended to other sectors such as the disabled, or elderly. Any such argument or opposition to this particular Bill based on these beliefs is baseless.

Lesley Cullan, Fochabers.


WHY should the term “assisted dying” provoke more concern amongst Christians than life prolongation, often at any price and on any level?

Is life prolongation (or, pursued to its extreme – eternal life) for those who can pay, a justifiable goal? Especially in these times of limited resources, when life-and-death choices are having to be made on a daily basis by medical staff (I speak as a patient who has just spent Christmas and New Year in hospital with some desperate cases).

I am thankful that I did not have to undergo the torture of trying to be at my parents’ bedsides when they were experiencing painful and prolonged deaths. Even more thankful that by some mercy – God’s grace – I was able to be present at my daughter’s bedside when she passed on.

The choice is simple. Prolong (and multiply) the agony of dying, or our Christian/human duty to comfort the dying (and grieving). Thankfully, as a person with Dutch nationality, I already have this choice.

Jonathan Sheldrick, Argyll.


COUNCILLOR Eileen McCartin’s letter on Liam McArthur’s Assisted Dying Bill (January 7) opposes the idea that a caring doctor should be able to help someone suffering from a terminal illness to have the quick and dignified death they seek rather than forcing them to suffer, at best, a long and distressing death.

However, she also writes: “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.” I find that extraordinary.

On the Dignitas point, it seems she believes it is acceptable to seek an assisted death in far-off Switzerland but not if you want to die at home. And of course this option is only open to those that can afford it – hard luck if you can’t.

But of course councillor McCartin, no doubt reluctantly, offers the alternative of suicide. Many patients will be physically incapable of committing suicide by the time their illness reaches the stage where they wish to die, so the councillor’s option could force people to take their own life long before they wish to die.

And, denied access to the drugs and knowledge that would allow the death they seek, many would rightly fear that they would botch it and end up even worse off.

So she offers patients a choice that means that their last hours, and probably days, could be spent in terror of how things could turn out.

Councillor McCartin is of course entitled to her opinion. But I am sure that I am not alone, not only in supporting the Assisted Dying Bill, but in finding her statement on suicide and Dignitas not just uncaring but positively abhorrent.

Alistair Easton, Edinburgh.

EILEEN McCartin’s letter does her no credit.

Her flippant “so be it” is unthinking, cruel and hardly worthy of anyone, let alone a councillor, when she dismisses the desperation of a terminally ill person being driven to commit suicide (which is often messy and always distressing to friends and family) and those who can afford £10,000 to go to Dignitas to die in an anonymous room far from home.

She might like to reflect on why none of the increasing number of jurisdictions that allow assisted dying have reversed their legislation.

Professor Charles Warlow (retired neurologist), Edinburgh.


I SEE that previous predictions of “the SNP running on empty” (letters, January 5) have been confirmed by SNP’s former Chief Policy Development Convener Chris Hanlon, who has called for devo-max to be included on a ballot paper, if there were to be another independence referendum (“Devo-max referendum call dismissed as ‘idiotic’ by high-profile SNP figures, January 6).

That his suggestion has been rounded upon as “idiotic, foolish, nonsensical” by SNP members shows the dearth of ideas within their ranks.

After all the faux outrage, sabre-rattling and hyperbole are exhausted in the constitutional stand-off between the SNP Holyrood and the UK Government, this is an admission that it is the SNP that has blinked first, so desperate, so soon, to try and stem the tide of public opinion.

Sturgeon is not Queen Canute (but maybe she thinks she is).

Allan Thompson, Bearsden, Glasgow.

THE fact that senior figures in the SNP have already dismissed devo-max on a fictitious future referendum speaks volumes. The attitude seems dismissive of an option that many Scots would probably find attractive.

Devo-max is more of a threat to the SNP, not Scotland.

It would, for the first time, make the SNP cost realistic policies to the electorate. It would force them to take real fiscal responsibility and not just the virtue-signalling ‘bread and circuses’ electoral giveaways that happen every few years.

Of course, the SNP would still predictably and lamely claim that they don’t have the “correct levers” to do anything constructive, but some things never change.

David Bone, Girvan, South Ayrshire.


IN another bizarre and acrobatic twist of reasoning, Pope Francis has suggested people who choose to have pets over children are acting selfishly, adding it “is a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and diminishes us, takes away our humanity”. So, the very humanity Catholic doctrine denies its clerics, then?

Reminding ourselves that the Vatican regularly “blesses” Fido but absolutely not the love of a same-sex couple, we must again ask why this religious sub-group gets taxpayers’ money to run schools.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Edinburgh.


CORRESPONDENTS bemoaning the behaviour and standards of politicians must know that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The US lawyer Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) wrote: “When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become president; I’m beginning to believe it”.

David Miller, Milngavie.


VEHEMENT anti-vaxxers will doubtless describe as “fake news” reports that the sickest Covid patients in hospital are unvaccinated people. How on earth can we convince them of their reckless selfishness?

D Johnston, Glasgow.