Euthanasia?

I saw this link a little while ago : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2111051/Euthanasia-Macabre-concept-roller-coaster-thrills–kills-you.html via a website I read sometimes. I’ve been very much pro-choice on this issue since I entered a debate about it at secondary school and became known as “Death Girl” for a while in that way that only little kids can carry off.

Honestly though, I don’t understand why people would believe that forcing someone to continue living, against their wishes, is a reasonable way to behave? People surely have the right to choose the manner of their death, in the same way that they choose the manner of their life? Nobody has the right to decide that a persons desire for death (for whatever reason) is invalid, isn’t “the right thing” or shouldn’t be allowed!

For the most-part, people cling to life in whatever way serves them best, some have their lives cut shorter than they would wish or are happy with, they may die feeling as though they’ve never really lived. Some I’m sure, carry on long beyond the time they would choose to end their life because of feelings of obligation, religious requirement or the needs of their loved ones.

Some people however are able enough to make a definite choice about the timing and manner of their dying and make a choice that says enough is enough. Why then should they not be allowed to take action on that choice? Equally, there are people who aren’t physically able to take action, they need the help of someone else to carry out their wishes and yet they risk the liberty of that person by asking for the help they need.

The majority of suicide methods I can think of are fairly horrific, pain-filled, at great risk of not working and ending them up in a worse situation than they started with, possibly then finding themselves a greater burden on society, the healthcare system and their loved ones than they ever dreamed. I don’t see why the people in the know shouldn’t be allowed to make their passing dignified, painless, calm and controlled.

I once watched this: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/terry-pratchett-choosing-to-die/ and it’s powerful, very moving stuff, a frank look at the different ways people choose to end their lives, the reasons and the thought-processes behind it. It involves the well-known Swiss assisted suicide clinic Dignitas and is a very thought-provoking study of two people who have chosen to make the trip to Switzerland while they still can, so they can exercise their right to choose how their life ends. Watch it if you like, it exploded a number of myths for me that the pro-life lobby use in their arguments against this most basic of rights.

There are a number of viewpoints about why people shouldn’t be allowed to request assisted suicide, it might be abused by unscrupulous people as a method of bumping off elderly relatives, or by those seeking a big will payout. I don’t buy either of these two reasons, the process of assisted suicide is a long and difficult one, it is also expensive, they must be accompanied by medical records, they must be seen by a doctor twice before anything happens, be psychologically evaluated and they must give their consent to the action. The person is asked over and over again if they are sure, at each meeting and several times before the actual act. Everything is explained in great detail and the person must be able to lift the glass and take the draught themselves. Each process is videoed for the Police, these are basic safeguards and are in place to protect the clinic as well as the patient. I don’t understand why these same procedures couldn’t be managed in the UK, we have the ability, the professionals, the facilities and the know-how to do what the Dignitas people do.

There is also the viewpoint that every life is worth saving, is worth extending beyond the whit of lifespan, in short, every person should be made to live because death is somehow a failure, a necessary evil that must be delayed as far as is possible…even if the person doesn’t want it!

Why?

Why can’t people choose to die? It doesn’t really matter the reason they don’t want to live, as long as the process is followed and they can provide a sufficient reason to take their own life, why shouldn’t they be allowed? What is it about humanity that makes us determined to prevent human death in the face of suffering, illness, depression, pain, torment, to force people to carry on against their will and give us another opportunity to try and “save” them from their demons? It’s not as though we are in imminent danger of a population failure, we have more than enough people to continue our existence, so if some people want to end their lives, why shouldn’t they?

We talk about compassion when it comes to our pets, putting an animal down in the face of it’s suffering, putting animals out of their misery is seen as the right thing to do, the right choice. Why not with people? Do we really believe that animal life is worth less than human life that it’s our choice to make? Or is it just that death has always been viewed as a bad thing, something to be avoided at all costs?

In the video, the family members were supportive of the choices made by the participants, they didn’t necessarily agree with them, but they were able to discuss it maturely and agree that it wasn’t their choice to make, it was the right thing for their loved ones and they wouldn’t have missed the chance to be there by their side when the act was carried out. I can’t imagine everybody would be that mature, responsible and supportive, but the pain felt by the families of “surprise” suicides must in part be because they had no warning, no chance to understand the reasoning, no chance to say goodbye, to say “I love you.” The sense of responsibility must be enormous, but at the same time, if someone is determined to take their own life, then their will can always find a way.

If you love someone, then I believe it is right for you to respect their wishes when it comes to the treatment of their own body, their life. I don’t think it’s right for the person that you love to be too afraid to come to you and have a discussion about why they want to end their life. Communication is the key to any successful relationship and whether it be as lovers, parents, siblings or friends, I don’t believe anyone has the right to make a decision as huge as life or death on someone else’s behalf!

If you have strong feelings about Do Not Resuscitate orders, action upon requirement of life support, brain death, coma anything like that, start talking to your loved ones now, make a living will, make sure everyone knows how you feel and perhaps when it becomes your turn to choose, it won’t be a hard decision, the facility will be there for you to ultimately decide for yourself. If you want to live and want every effort to be made to keep you alive then go for it, but if you don’t, then you should be allowed to say so!

In the end, the most powerful message I took from that video was the sheer number of people who go through the process, they have the tests, the examinations, the evaluations and they receive permission to set a date…..then the clinic never hears from them again. The sure and certain knowledge that (if it comes to it) they have a way out, gives them the strength they need to keep the fight going, for as long as they choose!

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