Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A right to die?

Today the High court has ruled against another case of a critically ill person who wanted to have an assisted death.

This is a very divisive case and issue for many.

Life is a very fragile thing but ultimately it belongs to the individual and if the individual chooses to end it then so be it.

I know suicide is a selfish act and death itself leaves family members suffering from the loss and picking up the pieces especially if it is a sudden death. Families may lose out financially as well and the damage that can be left in the wake of a suicide can be quite immense. Sometimes though people can not see any other way and depression can cause people to see no other way out as can desperation.

In the case of Assisted dying though the person is usually in a state of extreme illness and suffering. Some are bed ridden with no Quality of life - in some cases they have requested it themselves rather than it being requested by the family. In the case of Mrs Purdy who has fought her way through many courts up to the European Court of Human rights to be allowed to die. Why are the state so hesitant to allow her and others like her to die.

It shouldn't be an opening of the flood gates that will see us dumping our elderly relatives at the doors of euthanasia centres or Futurama style suicide booths on the streets but for those who are really ill and are living in agony dosed up on pain killers and waiting for the inevitable should be allowed to request and receive clemency.

It is something that has happened in war time, soldiers would give comrades and enemies mercy deaths and indeed RAF fighter pilots often carried their pistols with them in case they became stuck in the cockpit of a burning fighter heading for the deck but it was never spoken of.

We do it for animals who are horrifically injured or dying.

I remember my Grandfather telling me of my Nan's throat cancer. He told me of sitting by her bed staring at the shell of the woman he loved as it ravaged her, of the pain that she was enduring and the helplessness of watching her go that way. Of not being able to help her or speed her on her way and end her suffering.

It is a sad fact that there are still horrific ailments and conditions that blight lives and the lives of our families. Some can be overcome with medicine and human endurance but sadly others cannot be and there is a certain inevitability of the end. If the only alternative is a long painful degenerative condition should the option of assisted suicide be available?

I honestly think so. I have trouble with the notion of the State dictating what an individual can and cannot do and restricting their personal freedom to act and if that includes ending their life then why not?

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