Friday, 12 May 2006

Condemned to live

So the Lords, who are not elected by us, have rejected a Bill that would have legalised voluntary euthanasia – under strict conditions.

I would have voted ‘yes’. If, god forbid*, I become terminally ill and in unbearable pain, I want the right to be helped to die by a doctor. A couple of months ago, the vet who gave my pussycat a lethal injection, less than half an hour after it was revealed she was hopelessly ill and in pain, said he considered it a ‘privilege’ to spare her more suffering. I want to be treated with the same compassion we show animals at the end of their lives. If they could speak, they would thank us, I’m sure.

Some of the most vocal opponents of the Bill were, of course, religious groups. I’m not a believer; I don’t thank god everyday for my being alive. I don’t see life as the best thing since sliced bread, as it were. Not being alive wouldn’t bother me. I just hope I won’t have to travel to Switzerland any time soon…

On a related subject: interviewed the other day about that 63-year-old pregnant woman, a medic said that this was not the time to fulfil everyone’s desire for a child; that the Earth’s resources were already getting scarce. Pressed further, he even agreed that the number of resuscitations would probably have to be restricted too. Especially since they are so seldom completely successful. Someone else said, a little while ago, they only knew of one successful resuscitation in 25 years. It was, he said, the fault of programmes like ER, where people are routinely brought back to life and assumed to go on living totally unscathed by the experience, when, in fact, they suffer all sorts of indignities afterwards. He – a professional – said he wished for a fast and painless death. A fatal heart attack was the best, he said. That’s what I would wish for me and mine.

If I am ever hospitalised with any kind of serious illness, my chart will have a big DNR on it.

I think we need a referendum on euthanasia. I believe the majority of reasonable people would be in favour of it. I’d like to slap the Lords for bowing to minority pressure groups. Slap!

*not a believer, but superstitious nonetheless.


  1. Especially as I live in a country that (currently) is essentially run by minority pressure groups, you have my sympathies. And my slaps.

  2. Some people would not like your comparison of animals to people in this case, but I am not one of them. I lost a beloved cat (Miss Kitty) almost three years ago. I say "lost." She had lung cancer, and I had to make the choice to let her decision I could have made, and the vets were so compassionate and caring. In general, I find veterinarians are so much nicer--and more aware--than doctors I deal with as a human.

  3. a close relative of mine's initials are DNR and she's rather worried about what might happen if she's ever admitted to hospital


  4. I know when your kitty died we "talked " about how wonderful, if intensely painful, it was to be able to end our pet's lives on the day they no longer enjoy living.

    I have every right to the same courtesy from life, and yet if I need help it will undoubtedly be my husband who helps, and in doing so he will be putting his liberty at risk.
    So I would have to carry on to the horrible, painful, undignified end, rather than let him risk this.
    Or do it all by myself and pray I don't botch it. And, oh, yeah, it will have to be while I am totally alone so that no one is incriminated, and if I am terminally ill, how likely is that to happen?
    What a farce. Who are these people who know so little about life, and talk so loudly of rubbish?

    We have a terrible government in power here now-- brought about by a totally irresponsible scandal within the other party. They are now repealing our agreement with the Kyoto accord, of which so many of us were proud of our country embracing, they are talking about cancelling all abortions-- I am truly waiting for votes for women to go next. Not a prayer of assisted euthanasia getting in here for a while.
    I swear our Prime Minister ( not much prime about him really ) checks in with Bush daily for approval.
    Ye gods!

    Oops-- I seem to have sneaked in a slap. Sorry.

  5. Yes, R, the majority is always complacent. Instead of acquiring more freedoms, the ones we take for granted are quietly eroded. Things are never at a standstill. One also needs to fight to retain what one has.

    GE, we’re all animals, aren’t we? I have no problem with that and I would like us to treat each other with kindness and understanding. This morning I was listening to a discussion about the Lords’ decision: someone was going on about how 95% of terminally ill people would have a ‘good’ death in hospices, etc., if there were more resources allocated to them. 1) We know that no more money will be made available for that purpose. 2) What about the other 5%? Some compassionate doctors already ‘help’ people to die, but what if you’re unlucky and treated by someone who has strong religious beliefs, for instance? And why should those doctors have to do it ‘on the sly’, with all sorts of risks attached? It’s not fair on them; not fair on anyone.

    UC, your relative should look after her health and try to stay away from hospitals. Otherwise, poof!

    SE, you have expressed it all very well. It is scandalous – and frightening.

    You’re welcome to slap anyone and anything in this space. :-)

    WW, I know that most people agree with us (all the newspaper articles, and debates on radio and TV testify to that) but they are hindered at every stage by the minority. That’s not democratic, but no one can do anything about it. Here we won't get anywhere until the Lords are abolished and replaced by an elected second chamber: their sole purpose is to oppose any bills passed by our MPs (i.e. us!).

  6. An archbishop on the radio this morning said that society had gone too far with thinking our rights as individuals were inalienable, and that our life was not ours to do with as we chose.

    If doctors were openly allowed to prescribe the patient something effective to take themselves, those doctors would not have to actively end that patient's life for them. I don't see why they should have the responsinility of having t kill someone (to make sure it remains secret) rather than hand ther responsibility over to the patient.

    Also, it has been proven in Oregon that, when doctors prescribe the fatal medicine, 80 per cent of patients don't even take it; the fact that they have the choice every day to stop their suffering, that they have the control back, actually gives them the strength to carry on, one day at a time. I can understand that. So in the end, fewer people are euthanased, because when it depends on persuading a doctor to agree to something illegal, if he or she does agree, you have to go ahead there and then, really, or lose the chance.

  7. Like Robin, I have to echo my sympathies and give you my slaps as well. In the US, the states are allowed to enact their own legislations on various subjects, as long as the legislation does not conflict with the Constitution or national law. My state, Oregon, tried to create a "Death with Dignity" law, to let those people with terminal illnesses to die with medical assistance before they are so ill that "life" would be torture rather than living. But alas, those pressure groups are attempting to circumvent this Oregon state law and stop it by threatening the doctors who wish to help via our court system and our national D.A. It's disgusting. So please slap the American idiots who are unable to distinguish between compassion and torture, too?

  8. L, I feel like swearing. LOL! I'm getting so tired of having my life ruled by people who are nothing to me, whose beliefs I don't share. The Age of Reason started long ago. What's happened to it?

    As you say, why should doctors take on all the responsibility, and the mere knowledge that you have a way out would be such a comfort to terminally ill people.

    K, it's high time we got control of our own lives. I'm slapping all the people who would deny us that right - wherever they may be.

  9. Hey Bela, saw this tattoo on Boing Boing and totally thought of you right away! I thought you might find it an interesting idea, or at least get a kick of it.

  10. That's absolutely brilliant, K! Thank you. :-)

  11. I so agree, and I have had much experience with death. I remember putting down my last dog, and although it broke my heart, it was a beautiful end to a life that would be happy no more. I would like to die like that, if not in my sleep.Why are we more "humane" to animals than we are to people?
    People who know some about Hospice or Palliative Care know that giving a person the most control they can have DOES make their last days more comfortable and happy.People then do not want to die, but are ready for death.Too many doctors are afraid to relieve pain.
    I can understand some of the religious people who do not approve of euthanasia, and see suffering as part of our salvation. I watched my father suffer (his choice not mine)and he died peacefully after having a lot of baggage to deal with.
    What surprises me is that so many people do not make out a Living will, Advanced Directives or whatever it ia called in your locale. While I have a DNR order, this can be changed at any time.Even though it is the law in my state to give the information to each patient upon hospitalization, the majority do not do anything.
    Because of TV, I think many people EXPECT heroic efforts. I'd rather have my dignity. BTW, in the US, about 10% of rescusitations outside the hospital are effective. Inside is much better, but there can be lingering problems.With the advent of more difibrillators in the community, this statistic will improve.When I worked in the ICU we gave patients 1/2 hour,then said "this is futile."

  12. I absolutely agree with everything you said, J. Thank you for relating your own experiences.


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