Live and Let Die

This week’s focus of my attention is the “Joffe Bill”, which is having its second reading on Friday 12th May, before the House of Lords. The Bill gives doctors the right to assist patients who are terminally ill and suffering with acute pain to commit suicide, but only if they are of sound mind and repeatedly ask for it. Sounds very simple and straight forward, but wait, we get the opposition…

Opposing the Bill are the usual suspects from the Church of England, the Catholic Church and other groups with a “pious” interest. Their main and dull argument is that God gives the gift of life and it is up to God to take it away. However, I wonder if the pious contradict themselves… If someone is dying and this is God’s will they are in this state (God being omnipotent and all), then why stand in the way? Why deny, as they believe, God’s desire to take life when he wants to? Are they not interfering with God’s will and fighting against him by forcing the patient to stay alive? Are we not using medicine and technology to fight against God? I’d say they do contradict themselves and besides, it’s a useless argument anyway, they forget about one thing here – they impose their beliefs because they “think” they know best and yet don’t consider the rights and wishes of the patient to make up their own mind.

The religious leaders should not impose their beliefs, by all means they can have their say, but they should not force their opinion on everyone else. If the patient is religious or not, then it is up to that individual person to decide what they want, and not be the victim of the interference from those who “think” they know best.

Remember, everyone has the right to life, but they also have the right to die. If somebody wants to die and they really are at the end of their best but facing a future of pain and suffering, then I say let them do as they wish – help them go. If the patient wants to suffer and prolong their life for as much as they can, then equally they have the right to carry on, and we should continue to give them the best palliative care we can offer. The point is this: the individual controls their own life, not somebody else. By this, I support the rights of doctors to assist those who wish to die; after all, it is the patient’s choice and the doctor is there to help, not cause more misery.

You might ask about the vulnerable, the incapable and the mentally ill here, and how will they be protected? Then I agree there needs to be safeguards to protect them and to ensure we don’t slip down the slippery slop of indiscriminate euthanasia. But the Bill does have built in protection that limits the application of assisted suicide. The patient has to be of sound mind and competent enough to rationalise the decision and the consequences. Also, the patient has to repeatedly ask for assistance and will be assessed based on the patient’s state of mind. As a result, these protections will further enhance the protection for the vulnerable and ensure that those patients determined to die will do so with dignity, and at their own request.

It’s a difficult issue and we should all respect the rights of the individuals, and not let the pious and self anointed commentators interfere with such a personal and crucial decision. I have great respect for those who can come to terms with their own death, because this life is all that we have.

read more here…

related for: Guardian – let the patient decide Dignity in Dying – Campaings

related against: Telegraph – bring in God as usual Times – the unelected Bishops in the House of Lords

not realted at all: Bless this house – Vicars employed by estate agents.