Having spoken to a number of nurses, they all agreed that patients should be allowed to opt for assisted suicide.
YES! Meghan Mccormack, a Scottish journalist from Dundee thinks everyone should have the right to die if their quality of life is greatly diminished...
Euthanasia is a subject not to be taken lightly, so before we kick off, let me describe exactly where I stand. I believe that humans should have a choice in how their life will end, should their life come to a point where they can no longer endure the quality of life they are currently afforded. I believe that this choice should be made in the safety of a rigorous and regulated framework, and that this choice should be facilitated in an environment of comfort and understanding. Human life is precious and unique in every being it inhabits. We each shape our lives in different ways through the choices that we make. However, human life ceases to be human life without its fundamental element of choice. Dying is one of the most important events in our lives. It’s up there with the big ones. So should we not have some say in the way that it goes down? Before diving head first into writing about this subject in a national magazine for everyone to see (eek), I researched exactly what euthanasia legislation was most recently proposed in Scotland. To my surprise, and probably to yours too, euthanasia was never on the menu. Assisted suicide was. In the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill, the late Margo Macdonald had campaigned for those deemed by medical professionals to have a severely life shortening or terminal illness, to be given the choice of ending their life in a safe environment. To do this, a person would first indicate their wishes on a number of occasions, and two doctors would certify their ability to make this decision. The person would then end their life by their own hand, in the presence of a facilitator. Doctors were only required to confirm the patient’s condition and ability to make a decision, remember it, and understand the consequences. Doctors and nurses could opt out of taking part, and refer the patient onto another healthcare professional, just as the process stands with abortion today. The bill was rejected in 2015. This is the bill and process I believe in. I think this way; a patient could not be pressured by family members or others who might gain
financially. I don’t believe assisted suicide should be an option if someone is incapable of making or indicating a decision, purely as a safeguard. However, I think that those who can indicate their decision and are in the right frame of mind to do so, should have the choice. I think if they choose to end their suffering, they should be allowed to do so in Scotland, in an environment of their choosing. I know what you’re thinking. How on earth would they find staff to help facilitate this? As if services like hospice care were not mentally taxing enough, how could someone work a 37.5 hour week, ending people’s lives? I thought the same, so I spoke to some nurses. If I’m perfectly honest, I was as surprised as you’re probably going to be at their response. From the small number of medical professionals I spoke to, they were all in agreement that end of life care should include the patient choice to opt for assisted suicide. Caring for someone means to respect their wishes, and assist them in the choices they make. Not only would this provide a service that, I have been reliably informed, is often requested, it would free up hospice and palliative resources for those who wish to live out to the end of their natural life. Plot twist, I don’t think I myself would opt for assisted suicide. But who am I to deny others their choice? In saying that, I don’t think that anyone would know their opinion until they were in that situation. In my experience of working in a palliative care environment, and from witnessing first hand palliative care for my loved ones, I am aware of how little control people have, and how much this can emotionally pain them. So why are we restricting our loved one’s fundamental choice at the very time they need it most? Life is a beautiful gift, and it should be lived and ended in love, dignity and respect.
NO! Kirsty Mckenzie is journalist and blogger who says it’s not up to the healthy to determine who’s life is worth living...
Let’s get this straight. Everybody has the right to die. Full stop, put the kettle on, I might as well end the argument here. But I can’t. Because like most things in life, death is not that simple. While in a sense, everybody already has the right to die, that’s no reason to give the State’s formal approval to it. Assisted dying is prohibited under the Suicide Act of 1961 and in 2015, MPS overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would enable terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to be given assistance to end their life. But why? Euthanasia, though sad and traumatic, is also a subject most of us are familiar with. We read about the campaigners seeking to change the law and even watch euthanasia storylines unfold on our favourite soaps. From Hayley Cropper’s devastating battle with pancreatic cancer in Coronation Street to Jackson Walsh’s death in Emmerdale – euthanasia is never far from our minds or our headlines. Perhaps it is thanks to these touching TV dramatisations that most of us are in favour of euthanasia. Research shows that the majority of the British public agree that euthanasia should be legalised – 82 per cent support the choice of assisted dying for terminally ill adults. Despite the electorate’s support for euthanasia, politicians remain hesitant to follow public opinion. Among a variety of objections, MPS were concerned that in other countries where assisted suicide has been legalised, the number of people turning to euthanasia is growing at a rapid rate. For example, when Belgium legalised the practice in 2002, the following year figures show that just 235 Belgians were euthanised. But since then the numbers have grown now stand at around 1,400. Similarly, in the Netherlands the number of cases has doubled over the past decade. Euthanasia now accounts for a shocking 1 in 30 deaths. Most concerning of all is that the country had extended euthanasia laws to encompass an ever-widening group. The laws no longer just include people with terminal illnesses but definitions of unbearable suffering now extend to mental and emotional distress. Psychiatric patients are among those helped to die by Dutch physicians and if we were to adopt the same law, euthanasia would account for more than 20,000 such deaths each year in the UK. The danger here is that legalising euthanasia creates an environment where assisted death is not the exception, but the norm. Once the law is in place, definitions will be extended, interpretations will be distorted and safeguards will be slashed – putting the most vulnerable members of our society at risk. How can we be certain that we are acting on the desires of the person that is suffering? How can we be sure that an unwell individual has not been coerced or manipulated into thinking that death is the only option? It’s no secret that Britain is in the depths of a care crisis and there is a real danger that euthanasia would open the floodgates; allowing assisted death to not only be seen as an acceptable option but also a cheap solution. Tellingly, an American survey found that support for legalisation is highest among people aged 18 to 44, and lowest among the over-70s. It’s easy to assume when you are young and healthy that death is less frightening than pain. But until we have endured ill health or old age, who are we to say that a life lived in pain isn’t worth living? The so-called safeguards proposed by campaigners remain paper-thin. There are no lie-detector tests. Consent to euthanasia can’t always be guaranteed. Until it can, we should be putting our efforts into better palliative care – not asking our doctors to assist in suicides. When a healthy or young person says they want to take their life, we see it as a tragedy and do everything we can to help prevent the loss of life. Shouldn’t we extend the same courtesy to everyone, no matter their age or their illness?
Find Kirsty’s blog at www.hellotwobirds.com
By legalising assisted suicide, we’d be putting the most vulnerable members of our society at risk.