How can we rule on human dignity?

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THE Rev Sally Foster-­Fulton (Perspective, 27 November) is right to emphasise that “human dignity … cannot simply be reduced to the manner in which a person considers him or herself”.

Human dignity and Scottish society are based on relationships and not on autonomy. This means that when a person decides to access assisted suicide it affects the whole of society.

Legalising assisted suicide will, unfortunately, mean that it is the whole of society that agrees that some lives, for whatever reason, are no longer worth living and have lost all dignity or meaning.

This can never be the right way forward for a truly ­compassionate community that recognises the value and worth of all human lives.

(Dr) Calum MacKellar

Director of research,

Scottish Council on Human Bioethics

Morningside Road

I WAS interested to note that the convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society council, Sally Foster-Fulton, is “keen to create a space for honest conversation and reflection” (Perspective, 27 November).

This is welcome because the opinion of clergy and laity supporting independent MSP Margo MacDonald’s new assisted suicide bill has never been reflected in any official Church of Scotland statement.

Modern medicine can prevent nature taking its merciful course and in non-identifiable surveys large numbers of doctors admit they have resorted to euthanasia.

A civilised society should be able to deal sympathetically with the right to a dignified death and surveys show the vast majority in and out of the Kirk want choice. The Rev Foster-Fulton regrets words have been put into the mouth of the Kirk but then goes on to recite mantras about slippery slopes and cherry-pick obscure passages from the Bible.

The result of such fierce opposition is that politicians refuse to tackle the matter head-on and, in a morally ­reprehensible manner, off load the ethical dilemma abroad. Yet having access to compassionate release simply allows a patient to maintain control over his or her situation and to end their lives in a dignified and merciful manner.

If such access is available here, it removes the need for premature journeys to foreign lands and dying among strangers – surely the ultimate unintended consequence.

(Rev Dr) John Cameron

Howard Place

St Andrews