I read with interest the latest remarks by Ruth Davidson in support of assisted death (“Davidson: My mistake on assisted dying bill,” The , Dec. 28).
Her frustration at the changes that dementia brings to those she loves is one of the reasons. I have great concern for her plight, but with her conclusion, I disagree.
People with disabilities or in need of treatment are of excellent importance and worth. When they believe they have no worth or fear dependence, society should affirm this. We are on a risky course if we agree that certain lives are not worth living.
When a person changes his mind, what happens? In fact, what does that mean? A woman with dementia was sedated in the Netherlands in 2016 and then held by her relatives to undergo a lethal injection. At the outset of her dementia, she had demanded euthanasia, but later, when asked if she wished to die, she said “no” three times. The action taken by the doctor was ruled lawful by a court in The Hague.
Ms. Davidson was thinking of the right to choose the time of our death. Respect for individual autonomy is essential, but in a society it can not be absolute. We have to respect individuals’ right to make decisions about their own affairs. But when personal sovereignty becomes me before you, we hit dangerous waters. We give up sovereignty in everyday life when we pay taxes, forfeit the right of way when driving, take care of families. For the good of others, we have substantially decreased our individual autonomy this year. In this case, consideration for not taking a life is so important for a society that it is appropriate to limit individual liberty. It’s almost like helping a person commit suicide is illegal.
The awful irony of the idea by Mrs. Davidson is that the autonomy of the most vulnerable will be restricted by euthanasia. In other countries, she states, the issue of “protection from coercion” has been addressed. It’s not the case here. In 2015, a study by Raphael Cohen-Almagor of involuntary euthanasia in Belgium was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics. It found that one in 60 deaths occurred without the express wish of the patient. It was more prominent in elderly, comatose and dementia patients.
These are the very patients with whom we can ensure that there is no change to assisted suicide and euthanasia in the UK – those who are poor and aged, those with dementia.
Dr. Gillian Wright, Our Duty of Treatment Researcher, Glasgow G1.
No cause for celebration is this
It has been stomach-churning in recent days to read Andrew McKie’s eulogies of Prime Minister Boris Johnson (“Love him or loathe him, but Johnson has defied his critics and achieved Brexit,” The, Dec. 29) and Iain Macwhirter (“We should bite the bullet and embrace Boris the history maker,” The , Dec. 30). Such brazen Tory propaganda is unwelcome, yet to be anticipated by the likes of Alister Jack (‘The Brexit agreement eventually pushes the UK out of the EU’s orbit,’ The, Dec. 30), whose role it is, but definitely not by those who claim to be serious journalists?
Although Mr. McKie and Mr. Macwhirter are right to label Mr. Johnson a professional manipulator of the new political structure in the United Kingdom, this definitely just points to the system’s shortcomings. It’s a travesty of true democracy that such a self-promoting, amoral serial liar could rise to a position of power. Unfortunately, with a handful of billionaires as owners of the mass media delivering free propaganda, the gerrymandered first-past-the-post electoral structure offers enough space for such bad results and needs to be reconsidered.
The future is grim for young people who have now been deprived of the opportunity to meet European scholars through the Erasmus scheme, for fishing communities deceived by the very Tories they voted for, and for Scottish cattle and potato growers. The idea of spending my last years under a regime that has all the hallmarks of a far-right dictatorship is frightening, as a septuagenarian. In this tragedy, how can one find something to celebrate?
RM Morris, Ph.D., Ellon.
* The article by IAIN Macwhirter made me think again about the serious question: should parents and teachers now tell young people that they must learn to be deceptive in order to fulfill their goals and succeed,