WE note with interest your report of Rev Dr Donald McDonald's view on behalf of the Free Church regarding the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill ("Free Church describes assisted suicide proposals 'completely unacceptable'", The Herald, June 3).

It is highly unlikely that any healthy 16-year-old would make a preliminary declaration that they would wish to avail themselves of assisted suicide if they subsequently develop an intolerable terminal or life threatening illness.

However, to exclude them from doing so if they do suffer from such a disease would be discriminatory. Scotland is justly proud of its record in granting autonomy to competent teenagers.

The bill makes it very clear that assisted suicide can only be utilised by competent, mentally well patients; the preliminary declaration has to be witnessed by two independent individuals and is designed to ensure there is no evidence of coercion of the vulnerable.

There subsequently has to be a total of four medical consultations that agree that it is a reasonable action to be taken. This is therefore not death on demand as suggested by Rev McDonald.

As the Bill specifies the request for assisted suicide has to come from the requestor and be instigated by them, it in fact offers protection to the lives of chronically ill and elderly infirm people.

Reports from Oregon and the Netherlands from 1990 to 2006 were analysed extensively and clearly demonstrate that there is no excess use of assisted suicide /death with dignity in vulnerable groups.

Your readers may be interested to know that there were no requests in the Netherlands from teenagers in the first six years that such a request was legal.

Gillian McDougall,

Secretary, Doctors for Assisted Suicide,

2 Walker Street,