Painful principle

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One of the “principles” on which the Rev Dr Donald M MacDonald objects to the Assisted Suicide Bill is that of “the limitation of individual autonomy for the good of others” (Letters, 12 January).

It is not clear how compelling me to live through intolerable pain or degradation, despite my considered choice to be eased out of my life, is “for the good of others”.

Opponents of assisted suicide are apt at this point to speak of so-called slippery slopes and imaginary further legislation under which patients would be bumped off against their will.

It would be a good thing if these opponents would focus on the legislation that is proposed, not imaginary legislation springing from their dark fantasies.

Even if a plausible account could be given of how compelling me to live through intolerable pain or degradation would be for “the good of others”, the Rev Dr Donald M MacDonald needs to pause and reflect on the utilitarian import of his “principle”, for it is the same principle which is sometimes used in an attempt to justify the torture of prisoners to extract information “for the good of others”.

Paul Brownsey

Larchfield Road

Glasgow

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