Agonising choice

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There can only be sympathy for those old folk who have lost their mental faculties and need looking after for 24 hours a day.

Sheila Thomson’s concerns (Letters, 9 October) about the ­expense cannot be the priority; a humane society will provide for those in need.

Similar considerations apply to giving terminal cancer patients expensive medications to yield a few short months more, albeit often increasingly painful and uncomfortable.

It is true, however, that the funds expended come from a limited healthcare pot, and there is an argument that others just as needy but with better life expectancy are being deprived.

General approval should be sought as to what is felt to be the right course of action, but there is no case for advocating euthanasia across the board: pressuring doctors to help in this is morally flawed.

While accepting that financing the care of the old and terminally ill will be met from taking ever more from the general taxation pool, irrespective of needs elsewhere, there is a sound case for debating nationwide yet again about offering advice to those who are on an irreversible rapidly deteriorating downward path as to how to draw their suffering to an end of their own volition.

No coercion is acceptable; no pushing granny to free up her assets. Indeed, “do not resuscitate” is already part of possible approaches.

Compassion should drive how those with intractable pain, and those who can see only a slow, miserable decline with ultimate complete loss of sentience, can be helped.

Joe Darby