THE wretched death of Tony Nicklinson brings shame upon our society ("'Goodbye world ...

I had some fun'", The Herald, August 23). The High Court in London refused to grant his request to end his life with medical assistance. As a result of that decision he starved himself to death. Such institutionalised barbarity enacted in our name demeans us all. Sadly there is little prospect of change in the court's position. However, elsewhere in the world matters are not at a standstill.

In June 2012, a significant development took place in Vancouver, when the Supreme Court ruled that the Canadian criminal code, which prohibits physician-assisted death, violated fundamental rights of equality, life and liberty. The wisdom lying behind that judgment is profound. Terminally ill individuals who experience intolerable suffering now have the opportunity to bring that legally and humanely to an end. The court was satisfied that commonly-advanced reasons for denying them relief, including the protection of the vulnerable and damage to the trust patients invest in doctors, could be properly answered, if that was allowed in highly constrained circumstances.

While it is widely recognised that Switzerland permits doctors to practise euthanasia and extends this to foreign nationals with the financial means (about £10,000) to avail themselves of that option, it is less well known that other jurisdictions, including Oregon and Washington in the US and the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg in Europe, also take a more enlightened view of assisted dying than we do.

In 2011 MSPs in Holyrood rejected any change to the law concerning assistance at the end of life. However, in the near future Margo MacDonald will introduce a Bill again seeking to amend the legislation. Hopefully on this occasion our elected representatives will have the vision to alter the law and allow those few brave individuals who wish to take that route the opportunity to legitimately do so in their own country, no matter how deep their pockets might be.

Dying is the way that life ends. Each of us will experience it only once and we all unquestionably wish the process to be a good one. That the birth of every child in Scotland takes place in the best possible circumstances is recognised as a human right. Surely it is appropriate to adopt the same approach when the time to die arrives?

Dr Robert Scott,

Creitendam Lodge,

Balmaha Road, Drymen.