Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Assisted dying.

My Grandmother Sams died when I was four from throat Cancer, my Grandfather was at her side and took care of her through her illness but would never talk about it, except that he had lost the love of his life.

However when I was at school and there was a debate on assisted dying and Euthanasia he did say in conversation that the hardest thing in life is to watch someone you care deeply about suffer in agony and slowly. He said that, if a dog was dying from an illness or hideous injury the humane thing to do is to put them to sleep but when it comes to humans there is a different barrier.

Euthanasia is an ugly word. It brings to mind images of Nazi mandatory euthanasia, the programs to purge the human race of mentally and physically ill people under the guise of "Humanity."

It doesn't have to be like that.

What I say isn't applicable to those with mentally disability or suffering from the depression, mostly those with terminal or life debilitating diseases. I'm not being discriminatory, its just I know that that is a particular can of worms that leads to a heated debate and I'm not the person to start it. My sister worked as an NHS psychologist and has dealt with suicidal people and those with depression and said it is a tricky area. She said all you can do is offer as much help and support as you can but if someone is determined enough to take their own life they will, a fact confirmed by my Grandfather who, as a Policeman, had witnessed more than a few suicides in his time.
Or indeed, when I was a student, a man on Winchester station was arguing with his son then calmly walked down the platform and into the path of the express as it thundered through.
As I say, the main thrust of my argument is for those who are physically sick or debilitated and want to die.

As a Liberal, I believe in the rights of Man and as much freedom from the state as can be gained responsibly. Ultimately you have the rights to do what you want within the structure of law and as long as your actions do not infringe on other people's lives or rights. If someone is dying or living life in agony and wants to die, to end it I honestly believe that they should be allowed to. Medicine can only do so much to alleviate pain and to offer quality of life and should the patient feel that their quality of life is such that they cannot carry on then why not?

I know it is slightly different but assisted dying has happened at war for many years. Soldiers, to badly wounded to move have been left with pistols to finish the job, or been helped out by a comrade. RAF pilots would often carry revolvers in case they were trapped in a burning fighter heading towards the ground and this was at a time that Suicide was considered "self Murder" and illegal. Everyone just looked the other way.

Yes Suicide is a selfish act. It ends your suffering but leaves others in pain and having to deal with the emotional loss of a loved one but that loss must be weighed against the pain and suffering of the individual and surely it is better to remember someone as they were rather than what they became?
I always remember my Grandfather sat in his chair with a glass of Sicilian Red or German White, a sausage sandwich at his side and his smile - not as the whithered shell that lay in the Chapel of Remembrance at Medway Maritime - I refuse to. I only had to see him for five minutes like that so I was able to suppress the memory but someone who sees their partner deteriorate over months or even years doesn't have that luxury.

What if they find a cure?

Yes, I remember the scene in Star Trek V (the Final Frontier) when Dr McCoy helped his father to die and then a month or so later they found a cure and he could have recovered.
Life doesn't always pan out like that and with every decision you make you have to use the available information.

Our choices, our freedoms are restricted by many things including Law, money, time, others... We try to navigate life to get and do what we want in cooperation with others but ultimately the only thing we have power over is if we want Life to end. Why can't someone who makes that choice but physically can't carry it out be assisted?

1 comment:

  1. Pets don't get to choose whether they are euthanized. Legal assisted suicide and/or euthanasia is a recipe for elder abuse and/or for other people imposing their choice on you. This would especially be an issue in the inheritance/money situation.

    For more info, see www.choiceillusion.org and www.massagainstassistedsuicide.org