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 wereI 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.