Saturday, October 28, 2006

Euthanasia should be legal

Not really a news story but something that is close to my heart and of the greatest importance. In the UK it is still a crime to help a loved one end their life. Even if they have a clear wish to do so and are terminally ill.

For some reason it is deemed in the best interest of those who are suffering that they suffer as long as possible. The argument against euthanasia is mostly religious and partly not. The argument is often that only God has the right to take human life. The non-God argument is that legalised euthanasia could lead to people choosing to do so because they would be forced by their family.

The first argument is easily refuted. If we choose to lead our life to the will of God we should simply do away with hospitals. If you get cancer, well it's God's will. So be it.

The other argument is mostly used by religious people as a disguise but nevertheless deserves an answer. The answer is that with legalised euthanasia the family does not have that power.

I have very intimate experience with this issue in the Netherlands, where euthanasia is legalised. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, a highly agressive unknown type it was clear she would have only months to live. Those months were not good. Treatment did not do much and the fast growth of tumors resulted in a number of organs to be wholly or partially removed. In short, her life quality was extremely poor. She was in constant pain.

One argument used is that pain control these days is advanced. Yes it is, but not that advanced. She had always been clear she would not want to suffer if there was no chance of survival. She was with it and not under any pressure.

Our doctor interviewed her, without any family present. He then called for a second opinion from another hospital. They confirmed the diagnosis. A third doctor then visited my mother to interview her. After this our doctor agreed to assist my mother.

After the procedure he was clearly very, very affected and was a great help in dealing with the situation. He then had to submit paperwork to the prosecuters office and after making sure all the steps were followed as described in the law no charges were filed against him.

I think this is a whole lot better than the practice in so many countries today where people are made to suffer greatly because of a lack of control of their own life. The number of doctors worldwide that administer morphine or other medications at lethal levels in such situations is significant. They do it because they care greatly about their patients. Yet, they have to live in fear of prosecution.

This needs to stop. These guys at "Dignity in Dying" have a great website and an active campaign to get legislation in the UK sorting this issue. Support them.


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