Fandango’s Provocative Question

There are some questions that are rarely asked because the emotions that they stir up can be almost unbearable and because they cannot help but completely divide opinion. That said, these are often the questions that should be asked because they provoke discussion and, however unpalatable these discussions may be they are necessary if the human race is to continue to move forward. For that reason, I’ve decided to try and answer the incredibly provocative question posed by the fearless Fandango.

There are some questions that are rarely asked because the emotions that they stir up can be almost unbearable and because they cannot help but completely divide opinion. That said, these are often the questions that should be asked because they provoke discussion and, however unpalatable these discussions may be they are necessary if the human race is to continue to move forward. For that reason, I’ve decided to try and answer the incredibly provocative question posed by the fearless Fandango.

Do you believe that terminally ill people should be allowed or encouraged to end their lives via physician-assisted suicide? If so, under any circumstances or should there be restrictions? If not, why not?

My first response to this is to ask another question: If your family pet was dying, visibly suffering and the vet had told you there was nothing they could do what would your reaction be? You knew that, if you did not take action, your beloved cat or dog would face the rest of its life in pain and anguish…what would you do? For most of us, although it may break our hearts we would ask the vet to put the animal to sleep, to end its suffering. How is it then that we do not afford the same kindness to our fellow humans?

Almost 5 years ago, I watched my husband die from esophageal cancer which was complicated by secondary cancer in his liver. I watched him suffer when the doctors put cameras down his throat, he was sedated but told me that the process was agony. I was with him on the day that they decided to operate on his esophagus, a major and frightening procedure. They opened him up and then found the secondary cancer so they woke him up from the anesthetic and, while he was still groggy, told him that the operation would not go ahead and that there was nothing more they could do for him. That was his death sentence, it was delivered with little compassion and it broke my husband’s heart because he knew that he would be leaving this World and everyone in it that he loved. Worse than this, he knew that he would die in considerable pain.

I fought to find him a place in a hospice because I couldn’t bear the treatment that he received in hospital. I don’t want to go into detail because I don’t want to relive the memories but no-one deserves the mental and emotional cruelty that he suffered in the name of ‘treatment’.

Cancer is the most awful disease. It is cruel. It robs people of their dignity, it strips the flesh from their bones and leaves them as shadows of their former selves, in pain, connected to machines, drips, tubes all designed to keep them in their suffering for as long as possible. For what? For who?

A few months before his death I was asked to sign a ‘do not resuscitate order’ and, although I couldn’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to the only man I’d ever loved, I didn’t hesitate because watching someone you love slowly taken apart by this terrible disease is far worse than letting them go. What is it they say about if you really love someone you’ll let them go….?

One of the things that I will always feel guilty about is not spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with my love before he died. In films or on the TV it’s always like that isn’t it? The relative sleeping in a chair beside their loved one’s bed, holding their hand, not leaving, eating or even changing their clothes but real life isn’t like that or at least it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t or wouldn’t accept that my husband was going to die. Of course, I knew on an intellectual level but I wouldn’t believe it because the thought was too awful to bear. So I visited every single day, for hours at a time, but I also carried on with my life because, in my head, that which I knew to be inevitable could never happen.

This went on for several months, my husband suffered, I suffered, his family and mine suffered, it was prolonged, torturous and unnecessary. If my love had been given the option to end his life with a morphine overdose I believe he would have taken it just to put an end to, what had become, a miserable existence; it could really be called a life any longer. If he had made that choice I like to think that I would have supported him in his decision because it was his to make.

When I spoke to one of the hospice nurses after my love had left this World she said that his death had been ‘difficult’, basically, he had suffered. The really awful part of this was that I was not there with him, he was alone with a nurse, a very caring woman but not someone who loved him; don’t we all deserve to be with someone we love when we die?

If medically assisted suicide was allowed I could have been there, he could have been surrounded by the people that he loved at a time and place of his choosing and not at 2am, in a hospice with a kind nurse the only person there to hold his hand. I know that people will say that the processed could be abused, the lawmakers fear that assisted suicide could become murder or that people who would otherwise go on to recover, especially from mental illness, will take their own life but it is their own life isn’t it? The human race is happy enough to kill, many places still have the death penalty, we start wars over territory or religion, we maim and murder for pleasure or profit and yet we balk at the idea of allowing someone to take their own life. Why?

The grief that I have suffered and still suffer following the death of my beloved husband would be no different had he died as he did or through medically assisted suicide. The pain would not be lessened but the guilt would have been because I could have been there with him.

We put animals to sleep, when they are suffering, in the name of kindness and compassion, it’s through noble intent. We condemn those who hurt animals or treat them badly because animals like cats and dogs can’t really fight back against the mighty human AND YET we allow our fellow humans to go through far worse in the name of ethics. Why?

To finally answer Fandango’s question: I absolutely believe that people should have the right to end their suffering through assisted suicide if they are terminally ill.

Lisa

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Let Them Eat….

Well, not cake apparently. Before I start, I should warn you that this post may be a little bit contentious so if you’re not in that kind of mood, give it a miss. Anyway, I don’t know if you’ve seen the report in the news today that the UK supreme court has backed the Christian owners of a bakery who refused to make a cake, for a gay activist, which read ‘Support Gay Marriage’?

Well, not cake apparently. Before I start, I should warn you that this post may be a little bit contentious so if you’re not in that kind of mood, give it a miss. Anyway, I don’t know if you’ve seen the report in the news today that the UK supreme court has backed the Christian owners of a bakery who refused to make a cake, for a gay activist, which read ‘Support Gay Marriage’? What surprises me is not that the Christians won but that the case went on for over 4 years and cost more than £250,000. Did it not occur to either side that either making the cake or placing an order with another bakery would be considerably less stressful and expensive?

Leave me out of thisWhat makes people cling onto their beliefs with such vigour I wonder? Do the Christians really believe that their God will condemn them for baking a cake? Is it that they fear some kind of retribution in this life or in the after life? Apparently the Bible doesn’t really have a massive amount to say about homosexuality other than it’s an abomination, that gays should be put to death and excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven. However, in terms of being excluded, they will be keeping company with the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers to name but a few.

These people will all be grouped together under the heading ‘Sinner’ and, according to parts of the Bible, if they don’t sort themselves out and change their ways, lots of nasty things will befall them. However, and here’s the rub, the Bible also says:

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins” and also:

“Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it.”

So, whichever way you look at, we’re all damned….quite literally apparently. None of us is without sin so we’re all going to be exterminated. Except, we’re not, well maybe we are, to be honest it depends which bit of the Bible you read, for instance:

“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

dalekIf we take this last quote as gospel (pardon the pun) God won’t care if people are gay or not because we all fall under the heading ‘sinner’ and we are all equally loved by Him. I’m not a great one for religion to be honest but I do have to believe that, if there is a God, He’s likely to be the benevolent and tolerant kind rather than the smiting and exterminating kind. Why? Well because if I didn’t believe that I’d think that people might as well worship a dalek (who were also big on extermination) or some other cruel and intolerant being. For me, the whole point of God is to remind people to be nice to each other; it’s a little ironic that His name is so often used as an excuse to do quite the opposite but anyway….

So that’s my opinion of the Christian side of the argument. To sum up, God probably wouldn’t care if you baked a cake with some words on it.

Now, for the Gay activist. Again, cards on the table, I don’t have a massive amount of time for ‘activists’ in any shape or form, not because I don’t believe that we should all be free to live our lives as we see fit, but more because I’m not keen on being force fed the beliefs of others. However, in my mind, as long as what people do doesn’t hurt others, have at it. We all want to love and be loved and what better way is there to live life?

rights Ayn RandWhat I do find slightly troublesome is when acceptance is not asked for but demanded as appears to have happened in this case. The man who ordered the cake has the right to live as he pleases, if he loves another man and is loved in return, who are we to criticise; it has no effect on us so what’s the problem? However, is his lifestyle in any way diminished because a baker refused to bake a cake? Was he told that he could not be gay or that he should be condemned for being so? No. He was merely told that he could not impose his will on others but only by this court; two others told him that he did, in fact, have such a right.

That’s what all this ultimately comes down to: people’s rights. Personally, I can’t help feeling that Jonathan Sacks was on the money when he said:

“True freedom requires the rule of law and justice, and a judicial system in which the rights of some are not secured by the denial of rights to others”

In this case, either the rights of the baker or the rights of the gay man would have to be denied in order to settle the case once and for all; wouldn’t it have been far easier, all round, for the case to be dismissed right at the start?

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you….

Lisa x

The Right To Die?

How do you feel about euthanasia and the death penalty? Different subjects I know but  ethically surely two sides of the same coin, what do you think? I was reading an article this morning and it got me thinking about the right to take life, either someone else’s or our own, and whether such a right should exist. I’ll explain what I mean…….

How do you feel about euthanasia and the death penalty? Different subjects I know but surely,  ethically, two sides of the same coin, what do you think? I was reading an article this morning and it got me thinking about the right to take life, either someone else’s or our own, and whether such a right should exist. I’ll explain what I mean…….

Individual rightsAs Ayn Rand said “individual rights are not subject to a public vote” and I am a firm believer in this; each of us should have the right to live our lives as we choose so long as it is not to the detriment or suffering of others. This is the foundation for my conviction that euthanasia should be an option that’s freely available to everyone; no-one else should be able to dictate how we live so why should they be able to dictate when we die?

If we see an animal that is suffering we will end its life in the name of compassion and yet we will watch our fellow man suffer and do whatever is medically possible to keep that person alive. Do we have more compassion for animals than we have for humans? I wonder, if animals could talk, would we be so quick to end their pain? If they could express the desire to carry on living, despite what they were suffering, would we be so ready to ‘put them to sleep’, out of kindness?

If we would be more inclined to rethink our actions because the animal had been able voice its own opinion, surely we could rethink our attitude to prolonging human life at all costs when the individual who is suffering tells us that they wish to die? We can argue that there may still be hope, that there are treatments they could still try but we are not in their position, we do not feel what they feel so who are we to try to impose our will on them?

PainSome people believe that euthanasia in some way ‘devalues’ life; if we choose this path we would be carelessly throwing away something which has been given to us as a precious gift. This is an easy argument to make if you are happy and healthy but what if you spend every waking second of every day in unbearable pain? Is life such a precious gift then or is it just torture?

Some argue that it is not ‘fair’ on the families of those who choose euthanasia because they want to spend as much time as possible with their loved ones. I would ask is it ‘fair’ to ask someone to keep living in misery, knowing that all you are doing is delaying the inevitable? We are all going to die, that is an absolute, so if we cannot endure the suffering that the final weeks or months that a terminal illness can bring shouldn’t we have the right to decide when that happens?

There are many more arguments against euthanasia but my answer to all of them is that the rights of the many must fall if the rights of the individual are forgotten………..

It is for this very same reason that I am opposed to the death penalty. My feeling is that it is not the ‘right’ of the State to decide when an individual’s life will end. There are many heinous crimes committed where we feel that the instigator deserves to die but does that give us the right to take their life?

death penaltyThe death penalty is legalised murder; the act is pre-meditated and carried out in cold blood so what else can you call it? Just because it is done in the name of Justice, it does not change the facts. In places where the death penalty exists, the process is invariably long which means that the individual is subject to mental and emotional torture; some might argue that this is no less than they deserve as their victims and their victim’s families have suffered the same thing but do two wrongs really make a right?

The deterrent argument is often put forward to support the death penalty but answer me this: has murder been eradicated in places where the death penalty is in place? If the answer is no then how can the deterrent argument effectively be used? We have no way of knowing if more murders would have been committed if the death penalty did not exist……..

One of the most commonly used phrases you’ll hear in the death penalty debate is “an eye for an eye”; if that’s really your argument then are you any better than the person that you are condemning? You are willing to do to them what they did to others without a modicum of understanding of their situation or the reasons why they committed the crimes that they did.

If you argue that some people are just born ‘evil’ and the world would be a better place without them, do you blame them for that, is it their fault? If a random genetic hiccup meant that they were born without the capacity to feel sympathy, to understand the difference between right and wrong, without morals, is that something they deserve to die for? It’s a given that they cannot be allowed to live amongst others as they present a clear threat but is it right that they should lose their life?

Whichever way I look at it, I believe that the right to die must be something for the individual and not for the State. What do you think? I know that it’s a pretty heavy duty subject but I’d love to hear from you

Lisa

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