Life or Death

          Engage your imagination on this for a minute; a person on a hospital bed, IV lines connected to the veins; oxygen mask on; a colostomy bag attached to the abdomen, collecting all discharges; frail looking, exhausted, extremely fragile. That person is who you love the most, he or she is dying and in a vegetative state. You’ve got 2 options, euthanize or not. What do you do? That right there, is an extreme example, a staunch advocate  of assisted suicide or euthanasia would use to emphasize the convenience of making both legal. Just to affirm, not all cases of assisted suicide or euthanasia is as a result of the picture I’ve just fabricated in your minds.

          If you’re probably still puzzled and thinking, what on earth does A.S (acronym for assisted suicide; would use it henceforth, to prevent repetition) or euthanasia mean? They both ultimately result in the same outcome, but there’s a subtle difference between both. A.S is the suicide of a person suffering from any sort of chronic ailment, aided only by another individual providing the means of committing the suicide. The other person merely provides the means to the suicide, not administer it; that’s the difference. Euthanasia on the other hand is when the patient’s health provider or doctor, administers the lethal pill or whatever method, to deliberately kill the patient, with or without the patient’s consent.

          This is a debatable phenomenon that’s been going on for quite a good number of years now and its legality has been pursued on by the pro advocates in countries that are against it. Currently they’re both legal in:

  • Belgium
  • Holland
  • Luxembourg
  • United state of Washington and Oregon
  • and most prominently in Switzerland, where Dignitas was created, a group that specializes in the so-called “merciful killing” of patients.

          Both are currently illegal under the English law. The Suicide Act 1961 makes it a criminal offence in England and Wales to: “aid, abet, counsel or procure the suicide of another or an attempt of another to commit suicide.” Anyone caught doing so risk facing up to 14 years in prison.

          The call for its legalization in England is getting rife, with supporters on both side, advocating and dismissing each other’s cruxes. The pro-argument on this, lends to our basic humane nature; like the picture I painted earlier on, that patient only looks forward to excruciating pain, and it’s been argued that to disregard any “merciful end” to their pain, would be inhumane, cruel and against the compassion that’s demanded. Star Trek legend Sir Patrick Stewart gave his view on it, “assisted dying must be a fundamental right for us all. We must be free from torture and suffering, we must have the freedom to choose for ourselves. We have no choice about how and when we come into this world, but it seems that we should be able to have a choice in how we leave it, if our death is fast approaching.” The theme here is, if the suffering is unbearable, a compassionate intervention should be made to end the pain. A very delicate matter indeed.

          Like everything else in life,  it is not without its opposition. Liz Carr (Actress) gave her opinion; “…people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes and abuse. What terminally ill and disabled people need is an assisted living not an assisted dying bill…no safeguards have ever been enacted or proposed that can prevent this outcome (people’s lives ending without their consent through mistakes and abuse) – which can never be undone. The only guaranteed safeguard is to not legalize assisted suicide.”

          I envisage you presently now understand and grasp both sides of the coin. I certainly won’t judge those who have themselves, or perhaps a relative, been through that; but my argument against it borders on the slippery slope that this could lead to. What’s stopping the inconvenienced relatives of a patient persuading them to seek euthanasia (probably due to the properties or benefits left behind)? A slope that could lead to euthanasia or A.S being an acceptable response to any disability or life changing conditions? What effect does this have on medical research and better palliative care, if death can be easily viewed as the most valuable and convenient way to end the suffering. What’s stopping depressed individuals going through A.S to end it all quickly, rather than seeking professional help?

          The paradoxical effect of legalizing A.S and euthanasia could leave a patient feeling responsible for their current suffering, as they could easily end it by going through any procedures available to quickly end it all. It could easily lend itself to others, who in society view, are living an insignificant life. What becomes of those who agree to die, but changed their minds later on, but are unable to convey that due to dementia or some other mental ailment?

          What about the deformed kids who can’t even make the decision for themselves.  Talking about that, in Holland the so-called mercy killing of deformed babies are now being carried out. In Belgium, a law was passed in 2014, legalizing euthanasia for kids, stating that a child would have to be terminally ill and make repeated requests to die, with the parent, psychiatrist and doctors all agreeing before a decision is made; that was instantly met with reproach, with the Brussels Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard stating “the law says adolescents cannot make important decisions on economic or emotional issues, but suddenly they’ve become able to decide that someone should make them die.”

          A precious life is left feeling absolutely worthless, if death is considered as the only option left. The fundamental reverence of life is now being cast aside; like a vise, how many will fall prey to the love affair with death and the diminishing morals of man. A life regardless, is intrinsically valuable and efforts should rather be taken to procure better medical care for the ailing.



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