Thursday, December 11, 2008

No "good death"

I have been absolutely sickened by the news coming out of Britain. It's just horrible. My daughter and I have started avoiding British news and programming because of the euthanasia drive. I know we shouldn't, that we should actively confront this monster on the global scale, but there is so much bigotry, so little understanding of disability--where to start? How to get it through people's heads? It's a kind of terrorism directed at the disabled, I think. More of us have been openly identifying as disabled who in the past would have denied it and tried to hide it. We've experienced relief in doing so, and found solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are unable to disguise their differences at all. And here the bullying able-bodied world wants to shame everyone again, to clear their days of any interaction with openly disabled people. It will be those with learning disabilities and neurological problems and bad joints pretending that they don't need any accomodations, so they can keep their jobs. It will be those in wheelchairs, in braces, those who are deaf or blind, cloistered behind drawn curtains so no one has to have visual reminder of disability. And those already largely housebound pressured to submit to the ultimate exclusion, euthanasia. And once it is a common place to kill those who require nursing care, the next level of social "burden" will be targeted. None of us are safe in a culture where the answer to weakness is death.

Pro-euthanasia advocates insist that they would never pressure anyone into committing suicide. But they lie. Their language, as William Peace shows,  reveals how they routinely devalue and disparage the lives of people with disabilities.  Daniel James's parents are excellent examples, saying that their paralyzed son, along with disabled people in general, are "second class citizens." Since when is the solution to a problem of second class citizenship euthanasia? I'll tell you when! The Indian Wars! Oh, those poor Indians, losing their land and culture. Let's kill them off toot-sweet and put them out of our misery. It's a veritable final solution to the issue, one might say as one goose-stepped along. 

Euthanasia advocates also purposely muddy the waters, appealing to people's wish to resolve the suffering of loved ones who are truly dying in distress in order to get assisted suicide legalized. Thus British television viewers were given the opportunity to witness a disabled man said to be at the end of his life kill himself at a Swiss clinic while talk still swirls about Daniel James, who was not terminal. Disability does not mean dying, but if the euthanasia advocates get their way, it will soon.


Anna said...

It's the same in sweden.
They did a survey where 30% of the doctors was positive of a euth...(can't spell it sorry:)

There´s a doctor who is against it and who debates that it is not a good thing to treat patients by killing them but better to develop the care for patients and family instead.....and also supporting patients who are dying spiritually.

I think I'll support that doctor....

Elizabeth McClung said...

I am sorry but this is a subject I can't really talk about. One the one hand, I have a few days of hell in a bag of skin and I think, "there must, must be the right to let me go when this is ALL that I am. Not just a few days or hours but ALL that I am in unending fear and pain."

But then as you point out, there are people who are quite willing to kill off all sorts of people who are far healthier than I am; and considering even in my own family my grandmother was killed instead of given a blood transfusion (And I have anemia as she did), I tend to get a little scared/terrified about the subject. It has ceased being an academic point at which I guess I have to say that I don't know if I am good for debate.

Quick Sketch said...

I think we have to make a distinction here between euthanasia and assisted suicide. What ever the labels being bandied around no one in the UK is seriously advocating Nazi style culling of the weakest euthanasia. Rather the issue is to do with the right of the individual to choose when to end their own lives. With certain degenerative conditions (such as MND) there comes a point when some sufferers feel they have come as far as they can and wish to end their own lives. An able-bodied individual might just trot down to the nearest cliff and jump, or plug a hose into the exhaust of their car and breathe deeply. The extremely disabled are denied these options and require assistance to achieve the same end. The issue is, should the person who helps them be prosecuted for murder.

My own feeling on the matter is that the law has it just about right as it is. Each case is assessed and judged on its own merits. No one has yet been been prosecuted for assisting a genuinely disabled person who wishes to commit suicide and has made their wishes crystal clear beforehand. Legally guaranteeing immunity from prosecution seems to me to be the first step towards a form of euthanasia. If you are going to help some one die you has better be prepared to face the consequences - a life sentence – and make sure your motives are not in question.

I sincerely hope I never have to contemplate ending my life because my disability becomes unbearable, but if I ever get to that point I would like the freedom to take that decision for myself.. And if I needed someone to help me die, I would hope society and the law would be understanding.

Oh, and don't stop listening to and watching news from the UK, you never know when it might come in use. A quiz for example.

yanub said...

Anna, it is such a common attitude anywhere, that life with disability isn't worth living. Do you know who that doctor is?

Beth, it is pretty darn scary to know that family can get away with denying basic medical care, regardless of the ill person's wishes, just because of other disability. And it is scary that so many people are more in favor of "helping" folks with disabilities die than in offering the support, fellowship and care that make life worth living.

Quick Sketch, I agree that legally guaranteeing immunity from prosecution would open the door to widespread abuses.