The pros and cons of assisted suicide bill

Hugh McLachan (Opinion, 27 January) makes a creditable and thoughtful attempt to marshal the arguments for and against Margo MacDonald's bill on assisted suicide. Some of the reasons considered "absurd" are not insubstantial, but the most significant danger on legalising the bill would be the risk of abuse.

Ms MacDonald is a responsible lady of stature and integrity who merits respect, but that does not necessarily make it desirable that a bill legalising assisted suicide should reach the statute book. However, it is incumbent that MSPs should respond according to their conscience.

When someone is obviously moved with compassion, and the action to assist the ending of life is motivated by concern, while remaining morally questionable, in essence it is hardly criminal. While without legal support perhaps each case needs to be considered according to all the circumstances.

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REV J HARRISON HUDSON

Hamilton Avenue

Tayport

The reaction of the Catholic Church to the introduction in the Scottish Parliament of a 'right to die' bill was predictable, but, on this occasion, the Church seems to lack its usual dogmatic certainty and surefootedness.

The views of Margo MacDonald MSP, the bill's sponsor, are well known, as has been her intention to introduce such legislation; as you report (22 January), this follows "months of consultation".

The Church knows where it stands, but seems not to know what to do. It variously claims that the introduction of the bill should not have been allowed to proceed; that the parliament does not have the power to enact such legislation; that if enacted it would be overridden by the European Convention on Human Rights. If all else fails, the bill crosses a "moral boundary".

We should recall that this is the Church which believes in making paltry payments to pregnant teenagers to have babies. Many of these vulnerable young girls, some under the age of consent, will take their children home to deprivation, and be consigned to bringing them up as single parents for years to come, sacrificing their young adulthood.

Does this not cross a "moral boundary"?

We can also expect the Church to remind Catholic MSPs of the sanctions which might be imposed on them should they choose to follow their consciences rather than the Church's diktats. Is that moral? The Church seems so bereft of sound argument that it finds itself unprepared.

ALAN R IRONS

Woodrow Road

Glasgow