Voluntary death

It is noticeable in the debate over assisted dying that the contributions of those opposed to it commonly downplay or ignore the fact that the proposals currently being considered, both in England and in Scotland, are that assisted dying is to be only at the request of the dying person.

Thus Martin Conroy (Letters, 23 July) writes: “I find it demeaning that some in our society can decide another person’s life is worthless and can therefore justify killing them.”

Neither there, nor in any part of his letter, is the slightest acknowledgement that assisted dying is to be entirely voluntary, chosen only by the sufferer through a careful process of establishing her or his wishes.

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Instead, Mr Conroy evokes a grossly misleading picture of death-crazy doctors stalking the wards and saying: “This one’s life is worthless – kill him; that one’s life is without quality – inject her.”

One would hope that opponents of assisted suicide would be honest enough not to suppress this crucial element of voluntary choice in what is being proposed.

Indeed, that crucial element contains the answer to his charge, and that of the Rev Dr Donald M MacDonald (Letters, 21 July), that assisted suicide is “demeaning” and contrary to “human dignity”.

On the contrary, it is entirely in accordance with human dignity, and not at all demeaning, that when people, exercising their own powers of reason and conscience, decide they wish their sufferings to be eased by death, that choice should be available to them.

Paul Brownsey

Larchfield Road