Pain of death

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JED Cormie’s criticism of the Rev Sally Foster-Fulton’s opposition to “an assisted suicide law” (Letters, 30 November) raises several points.

Firstly, “assisted suicide” or, more accurately, assisted dying, is confused with euthanasia.

Assisted death is when the last action is that taken by the person himself or herself.

Secondly, when euthanasia is discussed it is crucially important to distinguish between “voluntary and involuntary euthanasia”.

Thirdly, it is a false analogy to liken human suffering with that of our domestic animals.

Surely because humans are symbolic beings the “meaning of life and death” is different from animals.

Fourthly, to draw a comparison with countries that “have laws which permit this” could be misleading. Didn’t a United 
Nations committee a few years ago raise concerns about “mercy killings becoming routine”?

Finally, can any discussion of a “law of mercy killing” exclude the moral question: “Is it right?”

Ellis Thorpe

Old Chapel Walk

Inverurie

Richard Lucas (Letters, 1 December) commends the quality of the debate on assisted death, then lowers it immediately by alleging some other boys in his playground might call him names.

Let me elevate it again. An alliance of Jewish and Christian leaders who favour changing the law to allow assisted dying in particular circumstances was formed last month.

The InterFaith Leaders for 
Dignity in Dying (IFDiD) group plans to specify the situations in which assisted dying might be justified, to devise rituals for those opting for an assisted death, and to compose guidelines for the before- and after-death pastoral care of those who have an assisted death and for the care of their families.

Mr Lucas might like to confine his arguments to debating the matter with his fellow Christians before setting out to criticise secularists, atheists and others whose compassion is more closely aligned than his with that 
of these Jewish and Christian leaders.

Alistair McBay

National Secular Society

Atholl Crescent

Edinburgh

Richard Lucas asks whether, 
because he opposes assisted 
suicide, a new word will be coined to “insult” people like him, namely “killophobic”.

Perhaps the word needed to describe him and his like is “painophiliac”. It means someone eager to have pain and suffering prolonged unnecessarily.

Paul Brownsey

Larchfield Road

Glasgow