Monday, 27 August 2012

The case against euthanasia...

**** a practical argument not one wrapped up in specious argument about life's purpose or value. To allow euthanasia is to licence the killing of another human. And that person may be in such a pit of despair and mental anguish that the mutter those terrible words: "will someone rid me of this misery and end my life".

For all the agony of seeing someone's pain dragged out before the courts and in the columns of the newspapers as the seek the 'right' for someone else to kill them, there still is that problem. A risk eloquently put here by Chris:

A few months ago, curled up around the toilet bowl, chest sore from dry heaving for days on end and every single fibre in my muscle aching from low potassium levels, those words have left my lips. “I wish someone would put me out of my misery,” I moaned. As my intestines failed, so did my strength to bear the pain and indignity of nausea, constant vomiting, pain and the side effects of heavy medication to control my symptoms (and cause new ones). It is difficult for me to live with those words in retrospect, but they made sense at that very point. I understand, perhaps not the depth, but the kind of emotion that can lead us to wish for death.

Every day people who work with the elderly, with the mentally ill and with those suffering painful disability hear these words. And rather than a tidy little injection and an end to it, they give comfort, provide an ear of understanding. We can write a million words of justification for creating a rule allowing someone to kill another but we can never bring back a life ended on the justification of words cried out in anguish. And that is why the so-called 'right to die' is really just a 'right to kill'.


1 comment:

Joshua said...

This argument has some force, and is probably the best case against permitting assisted suicide there is, but it seems rather beside the point in cases of terminal illness (which are the focus of most proposed changes to the law), where the choice is (except in the rare cases of misdiagnosis) between months of pain and indignity and a death at the time and in the manner of one's choosing. There will be, in such cases, no valuable life foregone even if the decision is hasty and ill-considered (and there's little reason to think it will be, for the most part).

There's also an odd inconsistency in allowing patients to refuse treatment, and thus die a prolonged death, in any situation whatever, but refusing to let medical professionals or the patients themselves end their lives quickly and painlessly.