NEIL Mackay once again has written a well-considered and compassionate article on the subject of assisted dying ("The right to die is the last human rights battle", The Herald, July 9). It’s a continuing disgrace that most of our lily-livered politicians thwart a change in the law, despite the weight of public opinion and the positive experiences in countries where assisted dying is legal.

Mr Mackay is right to indicate that most religions are vociferously opposed to assisted dying but let’s not tar all people of faith with the same brush. At a moving meeting of our organisation Friends at the Ends, which campaigns for choice at the end of life, one of our Christian members declared: “I do not believe that my all loving, benign, caring God, would want me to suffer intolerably at the end of my life.”

Indeed a few brave religious individuals agree – Richard Holloway, former bishop of Edinburgh, Rev Scott Mckenna, a Church of Scotland minister and Dr George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury. But most hide behind the "vulnerable elderly will be at risk" argument. Who is to say that the vulnerable and frail at not at risk now?

A change in the law would shine a light on the subject of death and dying.

I will fight to the bitter end in support of those who wish improved palliative care and maximum provision for the dying who wish to have masks, drips and tubes in every orifice, at the end, if that is what they desire. But why won’t they allow me my choice?

Sheila Duffy, Friends at the End, Glasgow G12.

NEIL Mackay is correct. This subject needs to be addressed by the Scottish and other governments. The majority of people in our country want assisted dying to at least be on the main agenda for our MPs. The burden in helping people to die has lain with the medical and nursing profession for too many years. Half a century ago, as a nurse, I was witness to two particular deaths, the horror of which is with me still. The first death was managed with compassion, and a terminally man in excruciating agony was helped to die with morphine injections.

The second death was of a child. She too was enduring unbearable pain, but because of the religious scruples of the consultant, she was denied any pain relief. It was a torture until she died. Have we moved on?

No. In recent years, I've witnessed some family and friends in the process of suffering and dying. Again, it has required the decision of a GP, hospital doctor or hospice staff to "help" people to die in these circumstances. It should not be their responsibility. It is for us, as a society, to create legislation to allow the decision of how to die to be with the person who is faced with their imminent death. If the person does not have capacity, then, yes, an unbiased advocate for them can be appointed. But many people facing death are competent and rational. It is they, and only they, who have the right to decide how and when they want to die. The Scottish government can at least start the process of framing legislation to ensure that end.

Lesley Barrow, Edinburgh EH14.