Saturday, 18 June 2011

Whose life is it anyway?

The moving story of Peter Smedley, aired on BBC, has prompted a few articles in the press, the latest of which is one by Allison Pearson and another by Graeme Archer - both of the Daily Telegraph. As Allison Pearson writes, it was a deeply thoughtful and moving programme and one I felt was sympathetically filmed.

I would argue that this is a subject that most defintely is one where personal choice reigns supreme and it is therefore not an area for the state to intervene, dictating that one important, personal decision is not yours to make. I was present at the death of my brother, aged 37, from terminal cancer - a non-smoker, I hasten to add. In continual pain, his one wish was for the pain to end and his repeated complaint was that with everyone knowing the final outcome, why did he have to suffer unnecessarily. Mercifully, at the end, he was unconscious from increasingly regular morphine injections and as a result I still belief the medical staff in the hospital concerned were sympathetic to his wishes. 

Whilst the point is made, in relation to airing the film, that watching another human being suffering death is not necessary nor helpful, I would counter by asserting that denying someone with a terminal illness the right to make a personal decision is also not necessary nor helpful. It must be said that Graeme Archer makes a most important point when he writes that we have become a legalistic society, having been conditioned into accepting that anything other than that which the state permits is illegal. We have indeed outsourced our personal responsibility as human beings to imperfectly drafted legislation and to its interpretation by judges, and then complain that we’re no longer as free as we once were. I have to also agree with him that merciful deaths were indeed managed, something which, as I said, I believe I witnessed with regard to my brother's passing.

The political dictatorial attitude, as presently practised, will indeed be the death of us all.

5 comments:

TomTom said...

Just fior interest do Google "T4" "Hadamar" "Dr Brandt". Then look at the concept "menschenunwuerdiges Leben" and imagine school text books with simple arithmetic questions on the number of healthy people who could be more productive without the cost burden of a few decrepit ones.

This was the T4 Euthanasia Program in Germany which eradicated depressives, shell-shocked, illegitimate, handicapped....before the team was moved to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

I only ask you to reflect on how you will stop such developments. In the Netherlands babies are already euthanased. They cannot give consent so consent is given for them.

The Boiling Frog said...

Sorry to hear about your brother WfW, like you I've had to watch loved ones die in pain - it is a truly wretched business. When they die, you're relieved that the pain is no more then you feel guilty for having such thoughts.

For those reasons I largely side on the personal choice argument - what we do with our own bodies is up to us - and no-one deserves a lingering painful death.

My only concern is the old 'slippery slope' argument which TomTom highlights above. It's easy once the law is in place to keep adding 'technicalities' to it

WitteringsfromWitney said...

TT: I did know some of what you mention and accept the point you are making.

I also appreciate the fears you have - and no doubt echoed in those of others. Where adults are concerned I foresee no problem as it could be agreed with one's GP - Children is another matter and one that would need further debate (parents joint, rpt joint decision?). Either way it is not a matter for the state.

TBF: Thanks, thought you knew. See above re the 'slippery slope' bit.

TomTom said...

I foresee no problem as it could be agreed with one's GP

a) You do not have a GP. His LIst now belongs to the PCT and he is a "Contractor" hired by the PCT and the contract can be assigned to third-parties

b) Many GPs want nothing to do with such matters and like abortion will refer you elsewhere

c) Eventually you will have an Official Solicitor or to apply for a High Court Order as it is not a medical issue but a legal one

d) Forget folklore about Hippocratic Oath, doctors do not take it. If they did they would violate one of its precepts which is not "to procure a pessary" for an abortion

WitteringsfromWitney said...

TT: Fair point and one that I had forgotten. Ok, so the NHS 'system' is a mess and needs changing. I may be in the minority but my doctor is what one might call 'old fashioned' in his beliefs........

(c) It has nothing to do with the law - it may at the moment, accepted......

The fact I can go ahead and end my life on my own, without help, tends to show what an ass the law and all the 'regulations' are.......?