Right to live, right to die
In a world that is getting confused more than it ever was in modern history, a chaotic situation is emerging as to what is right and what is wrong, and what is true and what is fake. It is currently mirrored in the lives of practically every nation on ear
Here, the IVF/embryo issue has been twisted in so many ways it is difficult to say who said what last. There have been so many inconsistent standpoints on the subject, even in Parliament where you had the Leader of the Opposition first voting for and then inexplicably changing gears into reverse and voting against it. When it gets to such silly situations, including last Monday’s vicious clowning inside the House of Representatives while Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia-Portelli was speaking on the issue, you know the red light is on and things need to be sorted out as quickly and serenely as possible.
Ethical and scientific confrontation is no new sensation. It has been going on since scientists, philosophers and innovators were burned at the stake lest they contaminated people’s minds! In 21st century terms, however, what is the man in the street to make of all this confusion? There were times when he had no choice but bow his head and accept dubious religious dogma. After the French Revolution and, centuries later, the advent of the Sixties with their liberties and newly won rights, a new awareness emerged that has since been digitised and moulded in the electronic cauldron.
When you would have thought that things have become clearer, they have actually been shoved, scrambled and juxtaposed in such a way as to provoke more doubts, more social disarray and a belligerent atmosphere that is hardly ideal for serious discussion.
When it is confirmed that the new amendments to the IVF law in connection with embryos can only lead to more procreation, you get churchmen – those very same holy sources that had once objected to contraceptives on the basis of their being barriers to procreation – insisting, some of them pretty theatrically, that human lives are being threatened. They have a right to live, one of them screamed like a tribal witchdoctor at a gathering of little children bewildered by the whole topic when they would rather have been running after a soccer ball, but the proven scientific truth is they are actually being used to help create new Maltese and Gozitan families.
There can be only one truth. Multiple interpretations and misinterpretations of progressive laws only help sow more perplexity, plant more doubts in people’s minds, and create a feeling of mutual distrust, when a serious process such as this requires the confidence of all those involved in the wellbeing of the Maltese nation.
Strangely, all this reminds me of that old, popular conscience teaser which, amusingly for some, had people being asked: if you sadly have someone suddenly and seriously ill and in danger of dying, who do you call first – the ambulance service? The doctor? The priest? And should all three appear on your threshold at precisely the same time, do you expect them to elbow-fight their way in, or let them go in together?
It may all sound funny, but it is not, and neither is it intended to be. A person’s needs at that precarious moment vary, so all three have a role to play as per the afflicted person’s known or unknown wishes or his family’s. Nothing can be fairer than that. Your timely action can either save him/her from death or, ostensibly, from eternal hell. The choice is yours. Yes, that precious, oft-abused word.
A dignified end
From the right to live we move swiftly to the right to die. Again, here we get the moralists in their various forms of disguise and the scientists, at least those of them who are not puppets in conservative hands, fighting it out between them, with the real victim – the person who simply cannot face more suffering and humiliation – watching on helplessly.
That same world that lavishly applies capital punishment and consents to abortion does not allow a person to die a peaceful and dignified death. The State can kill you, but you cannot decide when to die.
The examples abound and two very recent cases suffice. A terminally-ill retired lecturer in have come to agree it should be the unfortunate individual.
Strange and stranger still
Was it not strange to watch the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu giving such a fancy presentation of claims and allegations about Iran’s nuclear programme when he represents a country that refuses to even say whether it has nuclear weapons or not? And is it not stranger still when seen in the light of what the world knows when one of Israel’s own citizens, Mordechai Vanunu, tried to tell the truth about them, only to be roughly and cruelly thrown into jail?
In 1986, the former nuclear technician and peace activist had revealed details of Israel’s nuclear weapons programme to the British media. He was subsequently lured to Italy by the Mossad, drugged and abducted from under the biggest of Etruscan noses. Vanunu spent no less than 18 years in prison, 11 of them in solitary confinement, suffering cruel and barbaric treatment.
However, while presenting the viewing media with video and big-screen “testament” to his allegations, much to the delight of his friend Donald Trump as he contemplates leaving the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, other signatories were hardly impressed. They insisted that the Iran deal “remains a pinnacle of international peace and stability” and it is up to the IAEA, the world’s nuclear authority, to assess whether Tehran has violated it. In Europe, some even insisted Netanyahu’s claims may actually be an argument in favour of the 2015 nuclear deal that Trump seems so unable to digest.