As the title suggests, this is not going to be a happy, funny or lighthearted post; if you’d rather not read this, I understand, but it’s something that I really want to discuss.
Assisted dying [or euthanasia], by definition, is “The act of killing someone painlessly, especially to relieve suffering from an incurable illness”. There is much debate in many countries about both the laws surrounding this subject, and the ethically right stance to take. Some, including the Christian church, are strongly opposed to euthanasia, and state that it is up to God to choose when a particular person’s life is to end. there are others who believe otherwise, and say that euthanasia should be allowed; it is only fair to allow someone with a terminal illness, for example, to die more graciously and painlessly.
I raise this subject in the wake of a BBC [British broadcasting Corperation] documentary called
How to Die: Simon’s Choice
in which a man, simon, is diagnosed with motor neurone disease. He is left with just two years to live, and knows that his body will, and indeed has already begun to, fail him. Simon considers the option of assisted dying, illegal in the UK, but not so in Switserland, where he intends to die.
Understandably, many people have very strong oppiions on this subject, and I’ll express mine in this paragraph. I’d just like to state that I do NOT expect everyone, or even anyone, to agree with me, and I’m not closed to other points of view or ideas. I think that euthanasia should be allowed in this country, but with certain conditions. There must be a reason for someone to request assisted dying, like a terminal illness, and they also must be able to state that they wish to be euthanased. This could be in advance; after a diagnosis, an individual could state to their Power of attorney that if their health reached a certain point that they wanted to die. This would have to be signed beforehand by the person in question. Of course, it could be there and then, if they are able to communicate adequately.
Personally, I think that living in pain, knowing that you are going to die is probably one of the worst forms of torture imaginable. I’ve not lived through this, obviously, and so it would be unreasonable to take my assumptions as fact, but I can’t imagine anything worse than living through pain, knowing that there is no light at the end of the tunnel aside from an escape from the pain. For euthanasia to even exist, there must be a point where terminally ill individuals have expressed strong desires to die; the documentary mentioned above gives evidence of this. IN the end, it is their life, and the harsh reality is that they have no hope of a better life; in most cases, all that is to come is a medical decline until the very end. This is both ungracious and painful, both physically and emotionally, and it seems to me unfair to put unwell individuals through this pain.
On the other hand, i do see why people vote against euthanasia. Especially in my proposed law, there is no way back – no way to undo what has been done – after the diagnosed patient has told their Power of Attorney their wishes. Who’s to say that their wishes won’t change, their fear of death won’t overwhelm them? Even to the last moments, because assisted dying is not instant, there could be a change of heart, at which point it’s too late. According to this documentary, assisted dying takes approximately 4 minutes from start to finish, and there’s nothing saying that within those 4 minutes, the individual won’t change their mind. There is also no way of knowing if a miracle cure for any given illness won’t be developed in the coming months, weeks or even days after someone has been euthanized. Dying is the one act that cannot be undone or reversed, regardless of circumstances.
What do you think about assisted dying? It’s a big topic I know, but I’m sure you have an opinion, whether it be similar or dissimilar to my own. Let me know.