Assisted dying

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Arguing in favour of so-called “assisted dying” (a euphemism if ever there was one – doesn’t the word “killing” fit here?), it seems curious for Robert Canning (Letters, 27 February) to suggest that there should be any difficulty whatsoever in grasping the notion that there exist disparities in quality of life – very few children old enough to speak are unable to grasp this.

Euthanasia must be resisted, however, because for the benefit of a minority, it leads inevitably to a subtle downgrading of the lives of the elderly and terminally ill.

An “unproductive” person begins to be seen, in legal terms, rather like a household pet, which may need to be put down – provided the so-called “safeguards” are observed, according to which the patient can see (or be persuaded to see) that such a procedure is in their own best interests.

Life then becomes less an inherent right, and more a privilege that can be taken away.

James Bruce

Church Street


Following “the biblical approach to ethics”, Richard Lucas again tells us (Letters, 27 February) that suicide is always immoral. It would be interesting to know his response to the following case.

It appears that when Guy Fawkes was about to be hanged, drawn and quartered for his participation in the Gunpowder Plot, he threw himself from the scaffold so as to break his neck and die quickly rather than suffer the horrors of hanging, drawing and quartering.

Was Guy Fawkes wrong to do that? If Richard Lucas answers “yes”, he is committed to the strange view that Mr Fawkes had a duty to undergo the horrors of hanging, drawing and quartering. How cruel, how savage, then, is “the biblical approach to ethics”!

If Richard Lucas answers “no”, it is hard to see how, by the same token, there can be anything wrong with assisted suicide in order to avoid the last dregs of terminal suffering.

Paul Brownsey

Larchfield Road