Monday, 31 October 2011

Seven billion people and euthanasia.

Today I hear that the world population has now reacher 7 billion. What a challenge for us all to think through the issues of feeding and caring for such a vast number of people.

I hope it doesn't add fuel to the debate on euthanasia or rather assisted suicide as it is increasingly presented as. My thoughts turned to this subject today whilst caring for a very elderly lady who was dying at home. It occurred to me that rather than simply pronouncing myself an opponent of euthanasia, I should agree that as many people as possible should have a 'gentle and easy death' (which is actually the dictionary definition of euthanasia). That is why the hospice movement is so importnat. What I am opposed to is assisted dying.

There are many arguments against it, not least the fear that the frail elderly may have of 'being a nuisance' and sitting on large sums of money that their younger relatives would like a slice of. And what about society's general view of frailty, disability and there just being too many of us. I fear that we, as a race,  are just not to be trusted. Legalising assisted dying will in time open the flood gates. It will affect our valuing of one another as precious human beings, and assisting someone else in their suicide demeans us.

An article form The Scotsman last year at the time of Margo Macdonald's assisted suicide campaign in Scotland had this to say,
Lawmakers and activists would have us believe that the right to die is something the government should protect and every individual should be able to exercise. These two rulings (see the context and full article here) suggest the individual is not always free to do as he or she chooses. Why? 
Because human dignity always trumps autonomy, and the best interests of society sometimes outweigh the interest of the individual.It is time for Scotland to see that autonomy is not the bedrock of a decent society. Far more important is the fundamental principle that all human lives have an intrinsic worth, value and meaning whatever the circumstances.
Everyone has dignity, and we as a society will lay solid foundations for the future by voicing our support for this dignity and rejecting the belief that some lives are unworthy of life and should, therefore, be ended.
Amen to that.


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