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Sun Jun 12, 2011 7:31 pm
I've got to do a presentation about euthanasia for a Welsh homework assignment in a week or so, so at the moment, I'm collecting information, including opinions. I think this is a pretty good place to get opinions, so here I am.
What do you think about euthanasia? Do you support it or think it's completely wrong? Does it depend on what kind of case it is? What I'd like to know is pretty open really. Just express all of the opinions you have; facts too, if you want, about euthanasia.
Sun Jun 12, 2011 7:34 pm
I think Terry Pratchett, who has Alzheimer's, says it best:
Definitely worth a listen to!
"A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction." ~ Oscar Wilde
Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:25 pm
Terry Pratchett. I love him for that. I love him for many things but that is one of them.
Anyway, euthanasia. I have debated it several times, and even won an award for a speech I gave about it. I'm going to paste my speech below. (Note: It isn't an exact transcript of what I said.)
Modern medicine is a wonderful thing. In the past century alone, it has raised the average life span by up to 50%. Advances in healthcare have made us live longer and more comfortably. This has made us capable of enjoying life even in our twilight years.
But living long is no use if we have no quality of life. Modern medicine can save our bodies from death, but not from degeneration. Coma patients can survive for decades in vegetative states, with no conscious functioning minds. In these cases, should we really force them to exist?
I wish to make a plea for the legalization of euthanasia.
Karen Ann Quinlan has become the signature case for euthanasia in the US. In 1975, this 21 year old accidentally ingested a lethal cocktail of alcohol and drugs that left her in a comatose state. When it became apparent that she would never wake or recover, her parents decided to take her off the life support system to let her pass away. That decision led to a bitter, decade long legal battle between the parents, the doctors and the state that refused to let her die. Finally, in 1976, her parents won the legal battle to take her off the machines. They took her home, and a month later, she passed away peacefully.
Those against the legalization of euthanasia, so called advocates “for life” often wax rhapsodic about the inalienable right to life, and our duty to preserve it at all costs. But to quote one of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, “Life is easy and cheap to make. But the things we add to it, such as pride, self-respect and human dignity, are worthy of preservation, too, and these can be lost in a fetish for life at any cost.”
For many people, the idea of living a helpless life is more frightening than death. There is nothing dignified about wasting away in a hospital, with life support tubes plugged into you. You would be unable to perform basic things like going to the toilet, or conversing with your children. You would be a living corpse. To these people, dying with dignity would be better than living as comatose wreck for months, perhaps years.
The fact is our own mortality scares us. Letting someone die, or taking their life on purpose, even out of compassion, seems to be against human nature. However, there are thousands of diseases out there that ravage both mind and body, leaving victims helpless, without their mental faculties, and often in pain. From Alzheimer’s to AIDS, to multiple sclerosis, these debilitating diseases are becoming more and more frequent.
Now, Terry Pratchett is the author of the highly popular Discworld novels and a brilliant satirist. He is also a sufferer of early onset Alzheimer’s. Since he was diagnosed with it, he has become an active advocate for establishment of a euthanasia tribunal which would give terminal patients the right to end their lives. It’s particularly frightening to think that a man whose whole life and livelihood revolved around his imagination will be forced to die bedridden, his mind slowly rotting away every day until he is unable to read or speak. For someone who’s intellect is such a big part of their identity that would be a fate worse than death.
In the case of Karen Ann Quinlan, the Catholic Church, to which the family belonged, sided with the parents, however, in other cases religious bodies have been strongly against euthanasia. At the moment, there is no uniform legislation in Canada to deal with such issues. Either the relatives of terminal patients or the patients themselves have to submit pleas to the courts, and are often denied. The only other option these patients have is to go overseas, to the Netherlands or Switzerland to carry out the act. This shows the controversy and divides in society surrounding this issue. As a result, both the patients and their relatives are often stigmatized, shunned by some and applauded by others. What by rights should be a private affair now becomes a huge national controversy.
By legalizing it, we are bringing peace to these sufferers and their families, and we are giving back to them some control over their destinies which were snatched out of their hands by illness and accidents.
Let me finish with, well, another quote by Terry. When asked how he wished to go, he said “I intend, before the endgame looms, to die sitting in a chair in my own garden with a glass of brandy in my hand and Thomas Tallis on my iPod - the latter because Thomas's music could lift even an atheist a little bit closer to Heaven - and perhaps a second brandy if there is time.”
A lie can run around the world before the truth has got its boots on.
- Terry Pratchett
Si non confectus, non recifiat - If it ain't broken, don't fix it.
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