I SEE once again that Paul Brownsey talks of assisted suicide being “entirely voluntary” with “safeguards” to allow patients to make a “considered choice” (No logic in not allowing asssisted dying with the right safeguards”, Herald Letters, September 9).

Assisted suicide cannot be limited to a voluntary choice as its very availability pressures people into it.

Those who support assisted suicide, like Mr Brownsey, reassure us that it will only ever be for those who knowingly and competently choose it.

They say that safeguards will work and that these practices will not expand beyond these “reasonable” boundaries. However, differing definitions make it difficult to even define the boundaries.

For example, the laws in Oregon and Washington define “terminal” as a condition that will, “within reasonable medical judgement, produce death within six months.”

This “safeguard” has been challenged by right-to-die advocates, who say that this prescribes a pointless time limit; that the longer the life expectancy, the greater the patient’s suffering.

And really, if you view it as a fundamental right to have assistance in ending your own life, when you choose and on your own terms, there is no point in having a terminal diagnosis at all.

Any such “safeguards” are an infringement on this fundamental right.

Also, the idea that euthanasia and assisted suicide should be practiced only if a patient has a terminal condition is not universal. In the Netherlands, unbearable physical or mental suffering is enough to make one eligible for euthanasia.

There is no doubt that the pressure for those with terminal illnesses to just “get out of the way” and to “stop being a burden” on the rest of us is already huge.

If our society accepts doctor-prescribed suicide as a legitimate medical treatment, the pressure on already vulnerable patients to choose it will only increase. The law as it stands protects the vulnerable: there is no reason to change it.

Martin Conroy,



IN God’s name, how long are we going to have to wait for Scottish MPs to change the law and allow sentient, sensible individuals such as Richard Selley from Perth, with terminal MND, to choose a time to die rther than suffer an agonising demise?

It surely is the mark of a caring, civilised society that it treats individuals such as Richard with some form of compassion and humanity. The words “you wouldn’t allow it to happen to a dog” come to mind.

Dignitas (which is only available for the relatively wealthy) is not the answer.

We need dignity here, now, in Scotland for people who are suffering intolerably.

Sheila Duffy,


(Friends at the End organisation)

ACCORDING to one of your correspondents (Herald letters, September 9), there are no reasons against assisted dying, provided there are proper safeguards in place.

That fails to factor in the climate of expectation which grows around such a practice, once it has been legalised. To that should be added the alteration in what the mission of a doctor should be.

The Abortion Act has already adulterated what we see as the purpose of the medical profession.

That Act, and its impact upon society, shows up exactly what developments can occur, even when “proper safeguards” have been put in place.

Currently, steps are afoot to extend the right to abortion virtually up to full term.

Let us take our lessons from the way the Abortion Act has allowed medicalised life termination to become commonplace, so much so that very few people even blink an eye when they hear that 193,000 abortions take place annually in the UK.

I leave it to fellow Herald readers to visualise just how acceptance of assisted dying could prejudice our trust in those around likely candidates for assisted dying, and the more than possible extension of the practice to other persons in difficult health conditions

Denis Bruce,


ASSISTED dying is one of these fiendishly complicated issues that everyone has an opinion about. Trying to find a middle way through them strikes me as being all but impossible.

But I would like to salute the bravery of Mr Selley, and his family, in taking the decision that they did. To voluntarily cut short one’s life in the face of a a terrible illness is something that could only have been arrived after a great deal of the most profound soul-searching.

M. Sweeney, Glasgow