Death by doctor

Dr GORDON Drummond (Letters, 7 November) accuses me of muddying the waters and “assembling false contrasts” because I simply pointed out the obvious fact that no human being has absolute autonomy over their own body.

Sadly, he then does some muddying himself by talking about the right not to accept medical treatment as though that were the issue being discussed. It is not.

Rather, we are talking about whether doctors have the right to take life, not the right of patients to refuse treatment.

Dr Drummond declares that doctors are obliged to follow ethical guidelines expected of their profession, whatever their beliefs.

But the key issue is, then, what should the ethical guidelines be (ethical guidelines which are determined by beliefs)?

Dr Drummond seems to believe that individual human autonomy is the most important thing combined with a doctor’s ability to determine the “sincerity” of the patient.

Can I suggest that economic considerations, the good of 
society, mental capacity, the wishes of family and, above all, our understanding of what a human life is are factors that are just as important.

To declare that “autonomy trumps most rights if it does no harm to others” is a meaningless truism, because it does not define what is meant by harm.

In my view, when doctors start killing patients, harm is done to all of us.

David Robertson

Solas CPC

St Peters Free Church

St Peter Street


Dr John Cameron (Letters, 6 November) tells us: “The vast majority of Scots want an assisted dying law.”

It would be interesting to see this vast majority divided according to age groups.

It is easy to support assisted dying when you are young or in your middle age. When you are old, you see things from a 
different perspective.

It would be a good idea if those who wrote to you on this subject put their ages in brackets after their signature.


Hepburn Gardens

St Andrews




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