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Letter: `Sanctity' of life

Sir: Paul Vallely was wrong to say that ending the life quickly of a severely disabled suffering baby, who has no chance of survival, takes for granted that there is no difference between killing someone and allowing them to die - it is precisely that difference that Peter Singer is highlighting. It's just that he doesn't feel that we do well by the child if we allow "not killing someone" - a moral value - to have absolute trumping power over another morally valuable outcome, namely relieving great suffering.

Moral values should not be used as an excuse to avoid facing up to a difficult decision. Singer presents us with a real-life human moral conflict, and it is not resolved by saying that it is "absolutely right" not to kill - we are still left with a child in horrible pain. Human life is sacred - that is why this case presents a dilemma - but does that mean it is always good to preserve it at all cost to the baby whose life it actually is?


Thames Ditton, Surrey