Euthanasia - 'The issue is not going to go away quietly'

THE debate over euthanasia is one of the most complex and emotive facing society today.

And the great advances in medical science and our ever increasing life expectancy mean it is an issue which is not going to go away quietly.

On the one hand, there is the powerful argument for personal choice. Who wouldn't, in the event of, say, contracting a terminal illness causing chronic pain, want to retain as much control as humanly possible over their life's end?

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Yet opening up what has always been a clandestine practice and trying to put it on a firm legal footing remains fraught with dangers.

How do you protect someone who believes they have become a burden to their loved ones, either financially or otherwise, from feeling undue pressure to choose euthanasia?

There are also serious doubts about whether it is possible to create a regulatory system that is capable of preventing abuses.

However, the status quo cannot be said to be working either. Not when people feel the only way they can die with dignity is to travel abroad to do so, when their loved ones face the threat of prosecution upon returning home, and when a family doctor can admit to taking such life and death decisions without his patients' knowledge, as one did in England this week.

In the circumstances, there is a lot of merit in the Royal Society of Edinburgh's proposal that the results of any introduction of some form of assisted dying should be reviewed after an agreed limited time period. It is an idea that deserves serious consideration.

Funds build up

THE generosity of Evening News readers never fails to amaze us.

Just ten weeks after we launched our Buy A Brick campaign to contribute to the effort to rebuild St Columba's Hospice you have helped raise a staggering 100,000.

This tremendous effort is doubtless a reflection of the respect and admiration for this remarkable institution. But there is still much work to be done. The hospice needs a total of 7 million to complete the dream of a bespoke new campus.

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Money will come in from many sources, but having enjoyed such a great start to the Buy A Brick campaign it is time to raise our sights to the next landmark figure. Can we double that 100,000 in aid of this most deserving cause? With your help, of course we can.

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