‘It’s best to let Dr Nitschke air his views’

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there is probably no more difficult moral dilemma facing society right now than the “right to die” debate.

Our own Margo MacDonald has led the way in Scotland with her End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill, which tried – but has so far failed – to let terminally-ill people seek a doctor’s help to die.

But even Margo has reservations about the arguments about to be delivered here in Edinburgh by Dr Philip Nitschke.

The Australian was dubbed “Doctor Death” after campaigning for a euthanasia law in his homeland’s Northern territory in 1996 and then helping four patients end their lives before the law was overturned.

Since then he has spread his message across the world in his self-proclaimed role as the “leading international Voluntary Euthanasia and DIY end of life specialist”.

It is language like that which makes many people uneasy, along with his “Deliverance Suicide Machine” and his promise “to inform people of newly developed reliable DIY end of life strategies” during the “first practical Euthanasia Workshop in Edinburgh”.

Churches are especially concerned about Dr Nitschke’s visit, but the News instinctively rails against calls to limit free speech or ban such events. Better to let him come here and speak, even if we suspect most people will disagree with his views.

It is up to the authorities to support anyone so vulnerable as not to be able to make up their own mind independently. And it is up to us all to decide as a society if Dr Nitschke’s ideas – or indeed Margo’s – are worth further exploration.

Disgusting theft

The theft of a Poppy Appeal collection tin from a shop in Dalkeith is as disgusting as it is predictable.

Too often at this time of the year we end up highlighting such outrageous disrespect for the veterans who secured our right to freedom. We trust that when the perpetrator is hunted down they will be on the receiving end of the full force of the law – and when they are rest assured the Evening News will publicly shame them.

But what more than the inevitable hefty fine or community service order could be done to highlight the public’s outrage at such acts? Perhaps the courts should take up the British Legion’s offer of forcing the culprit to spend a day finding out exactly where the money goes – and witness first hand out of whose mouths they are stealing. Throw in a history lesson at the same time and just maybe they will think twice in future.