Sunday, 30 December 2012

A matter of life and death

This is a delicate subject. Maybe one that I, little Miss Insensitive, shouldn’t be allowed to write about. But here I am, writing about suicide and euthanasia. Before I carry on I would like to apologize to the politically correct brigade, the moralists, theists, the sensitive, the naive, etc. This is my opinion and views on the matter and right or wrong I am entitled to them. So here it goes: I am pro choice, pro suicide and pro euthanasia.

I didn’t just wake up one day thinking about these issues. I have thought about them for long and hard but today I read, and above all I listened to what an acquaintance of mine had to say about her debilitating, painful, terminal illness SMA spinal muscular atrophy

I agree with her that in her case like in the case of all those who have such a debilitating illnesses, assisted death should be allowed. I believe if a person is in a perfectly sound state of mind they should be allowed such wish to be put  in a legal document and have their final wish carried out by a specially trained nurse/doctor at a secure and safe place. I also think that apart from trained nurses/doctors, members of the immediate family or close circle of friends, if in total agreement and having gone through the necessary training and counseling should also be allowed to do it. I mean, I would have thought that most people would rather die in their own homes than in a sterile clinic/hospital and that a fair few would rather have a relative or close friend be the one to help them in their last and final step.

There should be some strict regulations in place though. I mean, those who are terminal should be protected from the unscrupulous and the down right evil people of this world who would, without a shadow of a doubt try and take advantage of the situation. We would need to make sure that it was 100% the wish of the dying person first of all and that they were of sound mind at the time of writing their wishes. Also, there should be severe punishment to those who are found performing unwanted or unrequited euthanasia. Damn, if it’s unwanted/unrequited it’s nothing more than murder.

As for regulations and punishment of those who unlawfully perform euthanasia, this should be the only time the state should have any say in the matter. I strongly believe that it should be left to doctors, the patient and the family to decide on when and how. If the state is allowed to interfere with this, there is a distinct possibility that some paper pushing fat cat at the top would "bonk off" a few people against their wishes just so he/she could meet targets and figures.

Now, as for suicide, euthanasia IS assisted suicide. I don’t see much difference between the two. Just because someone is fit and healthy  from the perspective of those looking in it doesn’t mean to say that that person is fit and healthy. That is the main problem and lack of understanding surrounding mental health issues. Most people still don’t understand that just because they can’t see an illness (no broken bones, heart attacks etc) that the sufferer of a mental illness is just selfish for committing suicide. Sometimes the mental pain, the anguish the torture is so much, so unbearable that there is no other way out.

Sure, it is sad to see/hear of suicide but it is equally as sad in the case of euthanasia. One could actually argue that euthanasia is a cop-out (I don’t think it is but the argument IS valid).

In the case of my acquaintance, her body is "broken". In my case (for argument sake) my mind/spirit are "broken". If/when her body hurts, drugs can easy that pain. Morphine is almost immediate relief. If/when my mind causes me unbearable pain and suffering  there are no drugs to easy that unless one takes anti-depressants or anti-psychotics for weeks/months on end. She is a prisoner of her body. I am a prisoner of my mind. Who suffers more? Who has more rights to live or die?

I know I have now opened a new can of worms: if a person has mental health issues, is that person in their right mind to decide if suicide is their best option? Isn’t the feeling of loss, emptiness and ultimately  suicide part and parcel of many common mental illnesses? Who can guarantee that a person with a terminal illness such as SMA, at the time of writing their final wishes isn’t depressed? I suppose these are the questions which make this an almost impossible issue to address and legislate.

FOOTNOTE - I now believe the "provisional green light", which means that a Swiss physician would be ready to write the prescription for the lethal drug, should be made available to those who want it. That alone should reduce the number of suicides because simply knowing that there is an emergency exit available, should they need it, is so comforting that they have a good chance of living until their life’s natural end.

* I would like to thank my acquaintance, who shall remain unnamed, for being so open and brave.

NOTE - This blog was originally posted on 10/6/2009 - CLICK HERE TO VIEW ORIGINAL POST

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