Friday 22 January 2010
WELL DONE MARGO: WHY SHOULD DIGNITY BE ONLY FOR THE RICH?
Margo MacDonald launched her End of Life Assistance Bill yesterday in which there are proposals to allow anyone aged over 16 and registered with a GP in Scotland for at least 18 months, to request help to die, so long as they have been diagnosed as terminally ill or permanently physically incapacitated, and find life intolerable.
The MSP, a sufferer of Parkinson’s disease, has already said she would like to be allowed to bring about her own death if her condition deteriorated but she insisted her attempt to change the law was not personal, pointing out that there were many who suffered progressive, degenerative conditions far worse than her own. The future, she said, for people in those conditions was very unhappy, unpleasant and undignified.
This is a highly controversial subject from which there has been much shying away over the years. It involves a wide range of potential problems ranging from protecting people from greedy relatives who want rid of a troublesome, time consuming, ill family member, or who wish to inherit sooner rather than later, on one side.... to people who genuinely cannot bear to see a relative suffer horribly, for what may be months or years. It involves doctors being involved in killing rather than saving lives, something which brings the BMA down on the opposing side. And of course it involves religion. Indeed one of the reasons given for the anticipated failure of the Bill is that the religious lobby is so strong. Strange in a country which has little in the way of church going.
Personally I support Ms MacDonald’s Bill.
Life can be wonderful; it is what you make of it. It really is a bit of a gamble. You have to do your best with the cards you are handed. Most people do this and try to enjoy what they can, sometimes putting up with and overcoming horrific problems.
However, there can come a time when there are no good cards left: when you are paralysed, when you require someone to do everything for you. The most personal of things have to be shared with a carer. There is no pleasure in life; there is only frustration, embarrassment, loss of dignity, a feeling of total uselessness, pain (sometimes horrific), horrible, degrading and painful procedures to keep you alive. And for what?
Perhaps for those with vast amounts of money to spend in private clinics with first class care, this may be, not bearable, but not too unbearable. The state funded alternative does not stand thinking about.
Surely it should not be beyond the wit of man to overcome the problems of the greedy and find a way for those who wish to end their lives to do so. Given that we are all going to die in the end, I don’t see that it is so terrible. I wouldn’t want to see anyone forced into it, particularly those who believe that their God forbids it. But for those of us who prefer the idea of dying, to that of living in agonising pain and humiliation, I fervently hope that this Bill progresses the subject.
Well done Margo. Why should Dignitas, and the dignity it offers, be only for the rich?