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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Deadly Decisions

I recently read a story regarding a Swiss-based assisted suicide clinic Dignitas.The story appeared on The Guardian and it revealed how a significant number of UK residents who made use of this service could have lived for more years if they had been provided with treatment and support that was available in the UK. It was particularly shocking to me because one of the victims of the Dignitas service was a person with rheumatoid arthritis, one of the conditions I acquired in 1999.

The findings revealed by this news article exemplify a deadly trend in our way of thinking about disabled people and their value to society. Indeed, at times, I suspect some governments would prefer giving us the death sentence rather than providing us with rights, including the right to access support services. Moreover, even if the interviewed doctors seem to be appalled by the premature killing of people having arthritis, or paralysis (for example), the deaths of other people with conditions such as MS are glossed over.

The problems with euthanasia are many. Personally, I can understand why some people might wish to end their lives. The fact is that when you acquire an impairment or a medical condition, it takes some time to adjust. And going on in the beginning is always hard and painful – even with support or lack of information. So, imagine someone waking up every day to face another day, not knowing if there will be an end in sight. This isolation and feeling of helplessness is a great source of pain and can often lead to suicidal feelings too.

Not to mention the pressures some disabled people may face from family members, or dealing with the guilt of being a burden. Undeniably, these are painful feelings and make you wonder whether you’re being selfish for wishing to live on. Unfortunately, in these circumstances, euthanasia – short of suicide – becomes a rather tempting option. And yet, euthanasia remains a final solution and an irreversible one. When there may be other solutions that could help in improving the situation.

However, euthanasia has implications far beyond the personal. It upholds an idea that death can be a way out of problems. It encourages a world view where we should give up living when we are faced by a stumbling block. Finally, it implies that there are lives not worth living. And this is the saddest part of all because decisions of this kind are never made in a clear state of mind – and sometimes forced by doctors or family members. And if I think about it, if you consider my impairments and medical conditions, my life could be easily regarded as one not worth living. But is it?