No, I largely agree with the Disability
Rights Commission's view.
However, we believe that in the current climate of discrimination against disabled people, where a lack of access to palliative care and social support means that free choice does not really exist, the threat to the lives of disabled people posed by such legislation is real and significant. We, therefore, cannot currently support legalisation of euthanasia." from the Disability Rights Commission's Policy statement on voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide.
This is a very well balanced piece of work,
well worth a read even if you don't agree when you've finished!
At least 95% of pain is manageable and
Palliative Care is getting better at dealing with it all the
time. Tests on Diamorphine have shown that if the dosage is increased
gradually the body is able to cope with the problems it causes
with breathing. So instead of being the hastener of death that
it is often supposed to be it is a very effective pain reliever
if it is managed properly. It is now also possible to use differing
levels of anaesthesia to overcome periods of extreme pain.
The line between dignity and indignity is very subjective. To some, shared same sex washing facilities in boarding schools and youth hostels would be too much yet most people get over that if they have to.
I did a radio interview and answered callers questions in Stoke on Trent and one caller said that if she could no longer feed, wash or toilet herself she would want to die. My answer was that if she was given the correct level of care she would be able to say what she wanted done when and how. She would therefore be able to stay in control of her life. Although I am aware that doesn't totally answer the question, I believe that if the rest of life is good, has a purpose and the means to fulfil that purpose, indignity alone is not enough to die for.
is again to do with the lack of a viable future, loss of a fulfilling role to play and loss of autonomy. I know because I have been there. In the darkest days, when life was so difficult because my ability was going down and all the future held was the prospect of getting worse, I really did want to end it. I was actively looking for a way that wouldn't effect anyone more than I had to. But even when life was that bad I knew I actually didn't want to die and half of me was in mourning for myself.
When the bottom falls out of your world like that, you need help to rebuild your life. My wish for death was very much a cry for help, which I did get. They increased my care, adapted our home and gave me some counselling although without my husband's repeated intervention I would have been given Prozac and much less of everything else. Most of what was on offer was for my physical well being, very very little was spent helping me get more out of life and continue to contribute to those around me which was what I needed for my life to have a worth.
If euthanasia was carefully regulated and
controlled would it be acceptable?
Swiss case law made it legal in the 1930s.
According to the Dignitas welcome pack it was meant for people
who were not only terminally ill but who were diagnosed with
no more than three weeks to live. But anyone can die who asks
for it whether their illnesses are treatable or not, like the
couple from Leighton Buzzard who died in Zurich. They only had
moderate Arthritis and Manic Depression. The only thing that
is rigidly enforced is that no one involved is allowed to make
money out of assisting someone to die
I suspect that once killing is legal, whatever conditions are attached, the sacrosanct ness of life is irreparably damaged somewhere deep in the human psyche.
I have read somewhere that research has shown that those who have assisted a suicide are at risk of committing suicide themselves later because of it. Here I believe the Voluntary Euthanasia Society has produced research that shows that the incidence is as high as 50%. They claim it happens because assisted suicide isn't legal in the UK. In the Netherlands where assisted suicide is legal they have had to limit the number of suicides a doctor is allowed to preside over purely because of the affect it has on their mental health. I cannot remember where these statistics were quoted if anyone knows please let me know.
No. Although careful regulation is the watchword of those wanting to legalise euthanasia I cannot see how any regulation can be careful enough. When disabled people do not have the same rights as the majority of the population and are regarded as suffering specimens of humanity who ought to be able to die when they want to. Suicide is not condoned for any other member of the population but if you are ill or disabled it is suddenly all right.
Living Wills or Advanced Directives are
regarded as insurance policies against pain, indignity and despair
and/or a way of maintaining autonomy in those situations. Yet
most people don't know what they are going to feel like if something
like a severe illness or disability happens to them. If they
do have their wishes written out and what they fear does happen
very often their minds change. It is OK for them to change their
minds if their verbal wishes are given the same legality as those
they wrote down in front of a Solicitor or witnesses but I have
yet to see legally watertight procedures that guarantee everyone's
rights if there is a change of mind.
Also the situations that Living Wills
or Advanced Directives are supposed to deal with are so multifaceted
that they cannot hope to deal with every possible permutation
that might arise. This means that they have to be written in
such general terms that they are full of legal holes and are
ripe for misinterpretation and abuse.