Nobody, regardless of their motivation, has the right to force someone to stay alive when they are in pain
we will have to tackle, even if the political appetite is not there.
We have an ageing population, a failing health care system and while Irish hospices do genuinely humbling, incredible work (some of the greatest, most decent people I have ever met were those who staff hospices in this country), we are facing into a demographic time bomb which is only going to get worse.
We’re not just terrified by death in this country, we’re terrified of even talking about it and when the conversation turns to euthanasia, as it inevitably does, people have a tendency to stick their fingers in their ears and hope the matter will just go away. But it won’t.
If there was one thing Dr Goodall said which I’d disagree with, it was his assertion that it was religious sensibilities which stopped Aussie politicians from introducing legal euthanasia.
Obviously, religious people will be motivated by their religious belief, but opposition to assisted suicide is not the sole preserve of the faithful.
In much the same way that plenty of atheists are opposed to abortion on moral grounds, the same applies to this vexed issue.
But it all boils to one point — nobody, regardless of their motivation, has the right to force someone to stay alive when they are in pain; pain they know will only get worse.
‘My body, my choice’ doesn’t apply only to abortion, it applies to all of us and anyone who has ever watched a loved one struggle through the last few months of their life, when they would rather be dead, knows that it is obscene to keep someone alive against their will.
Of course, doctors understand this better than anyone else, which is why so many of us will have heard a medic suggesting they can make someone ‘more comfortable’, which is simply a euphemism for pumping more morphine into their system.
We all have an innate survival instinct, which is why voluntary death is so culturally stigmatised.
But as Dr Goodall and so many others in his predicament have reminded us, sometimes you just know it’s time to go, as hard as that may seem. Forcing someone to spend their last months in a painful, undignified limbo is sick and cruel — no matter how ‘compassionate’ you like to think your argument is.