Slipping point

IN RESPONSE to Paul Brownsey’s puzzlement (Letters, 24 December) as to why opponents of legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia should resort to a ““slippery slope”” argument, I would refer him to the way such legislation has operated in ­Switzerland (assisted suicide), the Netherlands and Belgium (euthanasia).

There is clear evidence that incremental extension to conditions not originally envisaged by the law is occurring. For instance, some of the people undergoing assisted suicide in Dignitas were not terminally ill and non-voluntary euthanasia occurs in the Netherlands.

If assisted suicide were to be legalised in Scotland (Margo MacDonald’s bill) and England and Wales (Lord Falconer’s bill), there are still a number of groups who would continue to campaign for euthanasia.

If the main basis for changing the law is personal autonomy and choice, why should certain groups be discriminated against? If people want to end their lives but cannot do so even with help, why shouldn’t they be able to get a doctor to do it for them? For some campaigners, assisted suicide is only a half-way house to euthanasia.

Let’s not encourage them. Let us rather redouble efforts to provide the very best long-term and palliative care and remove people’s fear of the dying process.

The law exists to protect the vulnerable. The laws in the Netherlands and Belgium do not do that and there is no good reason to believe similar laws would work any better here.

Rev Dr Donald M MacDonald

Craiglockhart Grove