Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

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The Right to Die

The Commission on Assisted Dying says “the current law is “inadequate and incoherent” and should not continue.” How right they are, the right to a peaceful death at a time and place of our own choosing should be enshrined in the UN Charter of Human Rights. My life is by definition mine and your life by definition is yours, it does not belong to anyone else least of all to the State.

This particular report only goes as far as saying that someone diagnosed with a life expectancy of under 12 months should be able to call upon medical assistance to die peacefully and suggest, quite rightly, many safeguards. This is obviously a tentative step in the direction of legalising what already happens to a fortunate few who have the resources to go to Dignitas in Switzerland which presupposes that you have the financial and physical ability to get there. It also means that perhaps some people are actually going abroad to die earlier than they would wish simply because if they delay they may not be able to travel.

I can understand some doctors not willing to participate either from an ethical value or religious belief and that’s fine they can exclude themselves from helping but no politician or law should prevent me or anyone else ending MY life if I choose to do so in order to save myself a prolonged suffering that will eventually end in death anyway.

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2 thoughts on “The Right to Die

  1. Alex Pettigrew on said:

    Your blog is absolutely right, but we must not let government be distracted from proper care for the terminal and confused. There is a lot that can be done short of euthanasia. Also there are many whose cultural background would preclude suicide in any circumstances and they need to be provided for.

  2. Having recently witnessed my mother suffer the most cruel, slow and painfully lingering death -that I would be vigorously prosecuted for allowing to happen had she been one of my dogs-… you might imagine how I feel about enabling the terminally ill to make the decision to end their suffering by ending their life.
    I totally understand the risks and pitfalls and there are many for whom it would never be an option even if legalised. Also, the very nature of terminal illness can lead to many different feelings, thoughts and emotions for each person individually. We must protect the confused, the terminally ill, the infirm and, consider the emotional state of someone faced with a “best guess” of 12 months or less to live.
    It is, by it’s very nature, an enormously subjective issue. I would have given anything to end my mothers pain days before it finally ended. The day she looked me in the eye and asked me if she was dying and I said yes, she said “good”, and asked if it would be soon and when told yes, soon, the response was “oh good”. THAT was the day, had I had the opportunity, I would have embraced her choice to die. I couldn’t have administered the lethal dose or whatever though. I know, because I wanted her to be free of pain so much that in one of my darkest hours I considered suffocating her, a horrendous confession, but the truth and I understand those who do so. She had reached the point of acceptance of impending death and wished it would be soon, her suffering had become unbearable. Had the medical professionals been permitted to, I am sure they would have given her much more morphine than they could within the present legal restrictions.

    In this day and age human beings should not have to endure a painful death if it can be avoided.

    It is totally essential to protect the vulnerable of course, and doctors can never give a definitive timeline for someone. Mum never knew how long she had, she asked every time she saw a Dr and none could say. So, if a Dr second guesses 12 months or less life expectancy it is an informed best guess, nothing more, nothing less.

    I have met and discussed this with a couple of oncologists and Gps and, without exception, they have said the same. No-one truly knows, they can only give an informed estimate – how many times do you read in the press about so-and-so being given weeks to live and years later they are still around? It’s not as straightforward as “its my life, its my right to choose”… yes, it is your life and your choice., but, is there a point at which we might have second thoughts? what about those left behind to pick up the pieces of life..and then there are the feelings of those who would have to carry out whatever was needed… and then there is that old tormentor – hope – no matter how many times you hear “terminal” and “palliative care” there is still this nagging hope that a miracle will happen and the risk if you opt for euthenasia you might do so prematurely and then of course it’s too late…

    Who would do it too? The hospice at home nurses I discussed this with all said that, whilst they hate to see patients suffer, they could not knowingly kill someone, no matter how desperate the situation. They all wondered who would be willing to accept such responsibility. None of them would, and yet, they also said they felt the likes of Harold Shipman had made it far more difficult to administer adequate doses of “pain relief” to those in extreme pain. Logic told me they were absolutely right not to “kill” my mother, yet emotion and common sense screamed at me that the medical profession were guilty of nothing short of torture. They had promised my mother a painfree death – they broke that promise because their hands were tied by the letter of the law.

    Inhumane doesn’t come close.

    I don’t have any answers, just my thoughts. For me, I know (or at least THINK I know) at what level of quality of life I would deem as an existence and not as living,. but I don’t know if I would want to end it then nor how nor if I would have the courage… I suppose I shall have to wait and see… if I even get the choice of course – and, I guess, that’s what it boils down to. Choice and the right to choose…

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