I was giving this some thought the other day, I actually wrote a paper on it many years ago in college. Recently I read a story about an athlete that took her own life in this manner. Her name was Marieke Vervoot, she was Belgian. She had a condition called reflex sympathetic dystrophy. It progressed over the years to the point she was either in a wheelchair or bed and suffered constant terrible pain, there was no cure. She won a few medals in the Paralympics but could no longer perform due to her condition.
Euthanasia is legal in her country but not in the US, you can’t take your own life. There is assisted suicide in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, and one area of New Mexico. The practice brings in a host of legal and ethical issues, but I always wonder why we try and evaluate morality. This is really a personal choice. From a legal perspective, and I’m no lawyer, I can only assume it has something to do with insurance and the payout on a policy. Insurance companies are an odd industry, they never lose money and everything is money. They will not pay if you kill yourself and you have to argue with them to get treatment to stay alive they don’t want to pay for. Let that sink in. In either case, I am not sure why any of this matters to anybody except the individual and their choice. In the case of Marieke, she chose the time and place. It was done when surrounded by her family. Not all agreed but it was her choice.
When there is no cure and no quality of life, in fact, life is so bad you don’t want to live why would we force somebody to live? Prolong their suffering, isn’t that lacking morality and compassion. Don’t we have the ability to live the life we want when we are healthy, choose how we live and our own destiny. When we can’t live in a way we want to why does it then become the decision of somebody else how our life will end.
I could understand the idea we do not want somebody going into this alone, taking their own life without some discussion or support. That brings me to the assisted suicide, several decades ago doctor Kevorkian performed this function and he was convicted of a crime. Today his actions have led to reforms in the states I mentioned earlier. I also think when a person wants to go down this path they consult a psychologist to be sure they are of clear thought and sound mind. These are the types of laws or reforms we need, not somebody who does not have to deal with the issue but decides for others.
We allow for the humane treatment of an animal suffering, we euthanize the animal, but a human it is ok to suffer? I put down more pets than I care to count, it is never easy but there was always a sense I did the correct thing. Shouldn’t a human have that freedom of pain and suffering if they wanted it?
I hope I’m never in a position to make that choice. Thinking about it I’m not sure what I would do. Would I just fight through the pain for one more day with my loved ones, I don’t know. I do know the choice should be mine or between me and my family. Nobody else should have a say, not a government and not a religious body.