Euthanasia. Assisted Suicide. Death with Dignity.
All terms used to describe the act of a terminally ill patient electing to end their suffering and pass away peacefully and without pain. Sounds pretty straightforward right? Wrong. Unfortunately, how people pass away is still a hot topic and even more so the way they choose to do it.
I am staunchly for the legalisation of Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide. Although I have a few caveats to that.
- The patient must be terminally ill;
- The patient must have a minimum of two independent doctors confirm the diagnosis;
- The patient must be of sound mind at the time of decision;
- The patient must have undergone psychiatric evaluation by two independent psychiatrists;
- The patient must have all of their affairs in order (will, funeral plans etc); and
- The patient must not be alone at the time of death.
Why do I have caveats and who am I to make them? I am someone who has watched a close family member endure two months of excruciating terminal pain prior to finally succumbing to their illness. Google Ischemic Bowel Syndrome. It’s horrible. I watched my grandmothers battle with Alzheimers, end with this.
Ischemic gut is very sudden and generally patients will die quickly and in a lot of pain. They gave my grandmother two to three days, and she lasted six weeks. Six weeks of her bowel decaying slowly. Inside her. How utterly horrendous. Not just for my family but fer her. She already had no idea what was happening and then this. Do I wish I could take taken that pain from her? Yes. Could I? No. Unfortunately she didn’t have a choice, all we could do was allow the medical staff to treat her pain. Pain she couldn’t tell them about.
I’ve also watched my mum come home and sob herself to sleep because one of her patients is in so much pain and there’s only so much she can do as a nurse.
Assisted suicide is legal in some countries. Switzerland was the first in 1940 and the only one to also allow foreigners to die with dignity. The latest in the list is Canada and they are still working on the fine print. So what’s the issue with legalisation? It all comes down to mentality and vulnerability.
Governments seek to protect their terminally ill by not legalising Euthanasia because they may have over zealous family members who stand to inherit large sums of money or assets at their passing. There’s also the religious nutters who are against it because it’s doctors playing God.
The Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors, in its modern version:
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God…
This is what troubles me. What about the atheists? I don’t believe in God. So in my opinion, my life is in hands of my own and not someone else. Does that mean I could instruct my physician to ignore that section? I think so. Apparently not.
I guess the main point that burns for me is that someone else, who does not think it act the way I do, has not experienced what I have, is not in the same position I am, has control over what I do with my body. It’s the same reason I am pro-choice. My body, my rights.
I can say that, if it should happen to me, I would 100% follow my own caveats and move to Switzerland. I have said many times to my close relatives that I do not want to simply exist and if there is no chance of me regaining consciousness, please pull the plug. Donate whatever organs I haven’t destroyed, cremated me and plant me in a tree pod thing and move on with your life. If it happens to be a glitter tree, even better. I do not want to suffer any longer, and if you don’t follow my wishes, well you and I are gonna get acquainted really well as I haunt the shit out of you for the rest of your life.
That’s my opinion on the subject anyway. I’d love to hear yours. Same or different, it doesn’t matter to me.
NB: the author is aware of this issue being contentious and that emotional opinions are at play. Please make sure any commentary is free from insults or similar language or your comments will not be engaged.