Firstly, this is a very emotional topic, which everybody will have their own opinions on. People will base their thoughts around the way they have been raised, their culture, faith and past experiences.
What do I mean by assisted dying?
In my opinion, assisted dying is not about the end, it is about the choice. The choice to end your suffering when all other options have been exhausted. When suffering from a terminal illness/injury/disease, when all dignity has been lost, when no relief is available, having the choice for a medical professional to help end your suffering – that is assisted dying.
Do we think more of our pets than our families? You’d hope not, but when it comes to letting people suffer, I’m not sure. Nobody wants to see their pet or any animal suffering and will do what’s best for the animal even if that is euthanasia. Yet it appears we will prolong the suffering of our loved ones for as long as possible, doing everything possible to keep someone alive, regardless of the suffering that is being endured.
Euthanasia, at least of sentient animals is defined as ‘painless killing to relieve suffering’. The decision on whether to euthanize an animal is based on many factors including the extent and nature of the disease or injury, treatment availability and likelihood of success, the likely prognosis following treatment, age of the animal and its general state of health.
In fact any person responsible for an animal may be committing an offence if anything they do – or fail to do – causes unnecessary suffering for that animal.
So why the controversy in assisted dying? Firstly, anyone who has had to have a family pet euthanized will know the agony and heartbreak involved in making the decision to end an animals life. How many people have made the decision, with guidance from their vet, to end their pets suffering, then thought their pet has perked up and so delayed the inevitable. Then felt bad for letting their pet suffer for longer than was necessary?
Now think about making this decision for a family member. Impossible, isn’t it? Well, the difference is, we are not expected to make the decision for them. If a person still has capacity then they are free to make a decision on their future treatment based on all the facts available.
If they don’t have capacity, then hopefully their wishes were made clear to a legal and/or medical professional before losing capacity – e.g. if I have less than six months to live, am in constant pain, rely on others for personal care, am unable to feed myself, or walk, or talk then I wish to have a medical professional help end my suffering. Those who lack capacity would necessitate a different strategy based around professional input and advice and is too in depth for me to comment.
Is this just suicide ?
No, I don’t believe so, being suicidal and assisted dying are not the same. I believe most people considering assisted dying do not want to die. What they do want is the option to end their suffering when all other options have been exhausted.
I am sure you have read reports of terminally ill people committing suicide because they felt they had no choice. Now, if that person had the option to end their life, without pain, without risk of things going wrong, with less distress to loved ones and those discovering them and with their loved ones around them, I personally feel that is a far better option than the alternative.
This is always going to be an emotionally charged subject, with everyone having their own views and opinions. The biggest hurdle I believe is the family left behind, how many of us believe the saying – ‘where there is life there is hope’ ? I know I have said it many times and will continue to believe it. However, I also feel that if someone is suffering from a terminal illness and has say, less than six months to live then maybe, I should think about what the patient wants rather than what I want.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with assisted dying? I don’t feel there can be a right or wrong answer, every situation is different, people’s beliefs are different and each patient is an individual with their own strengths and outlook.
Please let me know by leaving a comment below.
Thanks for reading.
Justin – founder www.twitway.com