Letter: Dignified death

The written responses to the details of Margo MacDonald MSP's bill on assisted dying (your report, 19 June) raise questions about legislation and consultation. What happens when the detailed views of interested pressure groups, the churches, public bodies etc, seems to clash with views as expressed through opinion polls, focus groups, perhaps even the private opinions of MSPs themselves?

The responses from various well-equipped organisations may well differ from the actual needs of many people often unable to articulate what exactly they need. In the final analysis, a first duty of government is to defend the realm and protect the most vulnerable. Should the fashion for more and more consultation override this?

The opposition to Mrs MacDonald's bill from the medical profession and the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics is important but not definitive.

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The council's opinion that a law on assisted dying would mean a loss of "inherent human dignity" and that individuals would have lives of no meaning or value is emotive and flawed. No person should be saying to another human being that life is not worth living. But when a person makes an informed choice that he or she wishes to die, it is surely right that the law accommodates this with compassion. If we ignore this, the law and medicine could itself fall into disrepute.


Shiel Court

Glenrothes, Fife