Readers' Letters: If maturity is key to gender reform, what about assisted dying?

It seems likely that my grandchildren, on reaching 16, will be considered mature enough to decide to legally change gender if they are unhappy with the body that they are living in. This being the case I would expect that an elderly person, with a lifetime of experience, would be considered mature enough to decide when I am unhappy with the body I am living in, and to end my life at the time and in the manner of my choosing.

To legally change gender a person will no longer need to be assessed by psychiatrists but merely need to live in their desired gender for three months with a similar reflection period. Their families (including the parents of 16-year-olds), and society are expected to adapt, banish their concerns or prejudices and adjust to someone living in their new gender because the individual’s wellbeing is considered paramount.

Why then should someone who wants assistance to legally end a miserable existence not be allowed to do so without having to be assessed by psychiatrists, or to be terminally ill – provided of course that they have not already been diagnosed as cognitively impaired. In cases where a person is considered impaired, then any Advance Directive (living will) in which they have previously laid out the circumstances and way in which they would like to be assisted to die, should be honoured.

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The Scottish Government is pushing through the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill despite many polls indicating opposition to the idea, and concerns over women’s rights and lack of legal definition.

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur signs a pledge card in support of his Assisted Dying Bill at the Scottish Parliament last month

The Assisted Dying Bill has only reached the proposal stage despite polls indicating a high degree of support amongst the public over many years. I’m selfish enough to want to see it in place before I need it. I know I won't be able to try death out for three months and then change my mind, but I'll take my chances.

Mark Openshaw, Cults, Aberdeen

Rebel yell

“A key requirement of the ministerial code is collective responsibility”. So said Nicola Sturgeon in her reply to Ash Regan’s resignation letter (Scotsman, 28 October).

A quick translation of Sturgeon’s statement is “vote how you’re told or else”. I never thought the day would come when SNP MSP’s voted against their dictatorial leader so full credit to those who did just that.

Ian Balloch, Grangemouth, Falkirk

Detestable MSPs?

It is clearly something new for our First Minister to have SNP MSPs voting against an SNP proposal as regards the Gender Recognition Bill and it seems, almost shocking to her that one of her ministers, Ash Regan has the temerity and indeed the independence of thought to actually resign from the Government over a matter of conscience!

The First Minster’s rather intemperate, harsh and bitter letter in response to Ms Regan’s resignation fundamentally demonstrates her lack of leadership skills in being able to take people with her and this is reinforced by the SNP “whipping” their MSPs to vote for the Government for what is fast becoming a seriously divisive issue.

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Ms Sturgeon simply and demonstrably resents others who will take a different view to hers and it seems this now includes those in her own party. Indeed she may even “detest” those that take a different view, whether they are Tories or not!

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Alarm bells

The ministerial resignation over gender recognition changes should sound alarm bells for the Scottish Government. Their current position results from over-willingness to accommodate pressure groups while ignoring possible un-intended consequences of the legislation for at least half the population.

And the unintended consequences won't only be those that have thus far been highlighted. For example, already fully stretched health and counselling services may face additional demands.

The electorate might wonder why a seemingly disproportionate amount of time and effort is being to devoted to gender recognition and think it better spent dealing with critical dysfunctionality elsewhere.

R A WallaceKincardine, Fife

Police cuts

In September 2016, Nicola Sturgeon stated: “Independence is more important than oil, balance sheets and national wealth.” She added: “Independence transcends bread and butter issues.” This was confirmation that nothing in Scotland is as important as her teenage dream of destroying the United Kingdom and we have witnessed eight years of truly abysmal management and eye-watering levels of spending on embarrassing vanity projects due to this misguided ideology.

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This week we learn of the latest SNP calamity – trashing another of Scotland’s great institutions: the police force. According to top officials, Scotland’s police force faces “devastating and terrifying” budget cuts where “support may be required by English forces.” As with every aspect of Scotland’s government, Nicola Sturgeon, Ian Blackford, John Swinney et al, will criticise and blame Westminster for their every shortcoming and failure, despite receiving record levels of finance.

Scotland has an annual multi-million pound deficit yet the First Minister, aides and supporters astonishingly believe Scots will be better off if independent. It really is time for separatists to come to their senses, face up to reality and dump this sorrowful and depressing belief system. Nothing so far from the SNP regime has provided proof, no facts and figures, to show Scots will be better off if independent.

Douglas Cowe

Newmachar, Aberdeenshire

Euro wrangling

The Scotsman (October 28) reports that four separate EU sources affirm that, with the exception of Denmark, members must commit to joining the euro and that this would apply to an independent Scotland. This really should not need to be spelled out as EU rules patently require this commitment as a necessary prerequisite for aspiring members. And yet Nicola Sturgeon says that she simply would not do it! You have to wonder at the sheer chutzpah of the SNP! Douglas Ross was right to ask who is lying to the Scottish people.

Another question is also raised. If the SNP are as wholehearted as they claim in their enthusiasm for a union which they see as a success story then why are they so desperately unwilling to sign up to its currency and instead are determined on a policy which would bind Scotland to the currency of a union which they deride as a disastrous failure?

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Currency fallacy

It was disappointing but hardly surprising that, according to the media, sources are repeating the tired old fallacy that an independent Scotland would have to join the euro. These sources are, of course, unnamed.

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Currently, 19 of the 27 European Union member countries are signed up to the euro. Denmark has negotiated an opt-out while seven do not currently fulfil the criteria for joining the euro

Any country adopting the euro has to firstly join the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) for two years. The ERM was set up to ensure that exchange-rate fluctuations between the euro and other EU currencies do not disrupt economic stability. Participation in ERM is voluntary for non-euro countries.

Indeed, the EU does not have a formal timetable for countries joining the single currency and noted that it is up to individual countries to calibrate their path towards this.

Reinforcing this, Jean-Claude Juncker, the former President of the European Commission, said in 2017: “I have no intention of forcing countries to join the euro if they are not willing or not able to do so”.

Sweden joined the EU in 1995 and has not yet adopted the euro or entered into the ERM. Euro membership was defeated in a referendum in 2003, and the country has no formal timetable for signing up. The EU has not exerted any pressure whatsoever on Sweden to adopt the single currency.

This is yet again a simple case of scaremongering and an independent Scotland could join the EU without being forced to join the euro.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Good European

Nicola Sturgeon claims that we don't have to, and do not want to, join the euro currency “when” we rejoin the EU.

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Surely, if she is the good European she has always claimed to be, she would be anxious to join the currency, and wish to participate fully in the European Union?

William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian

Kinloch Castle

It is reported this week that the sale of Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum is to be completed on Monday – to a millionaire Tory donor, one Jeremy Hosking.

The sale was first publicised in vague terms back in June, and few details on the nature of the agreement with Hosking have been released. There has been little transparency on what the public gains, and what Hosking might gain from the deal.

Make no mistake, although NatureScot, essentially a nature conservation body, is said to be carrying out the sale, the real vendor is the Scottish Government. They do not want to spend money on renovating the castle, which is a time capsule of Edwardian life, and a key to community development of the island, for sensible tourism or other purposes.

The irony of all this is that the castle was built in the 1880s as a hunting playground for a millionaire, and now the Scottish Government proposes to sell it to a modern millionaire. Little wonder they want to keep things secret!

Crawford Mackie, Edinburgh

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