“Dying to meet you”

I have written several times about my apprehension with regard to the growing pressure in this country to ease the rules on assisted suicide.  (See earlier posts by clicking on “The Slippery Slope” in the Tag Cloud).

Much is made of the Dutch experience, where Euthanasia has been legal since 2002.  There are obviously occasions where this way of ending a life may be appropriate, and the Dutch have “safeguarded” this by ensuring that two doctors are required to authorise a lethal injection.

Now comes a worrying next step.     Mobile Euthanasia teams who will visit you at home.  It could seem like a compassionate service since most people would prefer to die at home.  The Dutch Medical Association backs the idea because it acknowledges that “some lonely people could qualify if they have unbearable and lasting suffering”.

Each step along this path can be justified by reasonable argument, but where will it end.

Who is the doctor that will ride on this grim reaper hand cart ?

How long will it be before the service is provided by the local Funeral Directors assisted by an NVQ trained locum doctor ?

They could be preceded by ambulance chasing solicitors who could execute your last will and testament before you are executed on a  no death – no fee basis.

I know there is virtue in assisted suicide with all the right counselling and support, and with certain regulation and safeguards.  But regulation has not served the living elderly well in our hospitals, where you would think people would be more than adequately protected.

Frail and lonely older people in their own homes would be much more vulnerable to outside pressures.  Relatives wishing to be relieved of caring duties, or with their eyes on the prize of a legacy;  busy doctors who don’t have time to counsel,  or just the elderly themselves believing they are becoming too much of a burden.

 

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4 Responses to “Dying to meet you”

  1. As an aside to the questions you raise John, I add a few notes which I wrote to the Telegraph in response to an article of care for the aged, below: The article was about in general that assisted suicides by the Less able than the able bodied and minded person should such person who assist be prosecuted. My response to the Telegrapgh was as below.
    I know my facts may not be correct, but I trust the tenure and meaning is not lost in the reading of my response.
    Daily Telegraph Monday 02 01 2012. Page16-Aduty of Care to our last days on earth.
    By Charles Falconer.
    Dear Sir
    An interesting piece of journalism about death and how one achieves it in this modern society of choice.
    I have a question for you?’
    I do not understand the quote:’ that suicide was or is legal for able bodied persons since 1961’ I must admit in a coroners court suicide is a legal definition of death for criminal and legal procedure that have to register a death.
    I must now ask you to clarify a point. If I took or take out a commercial agreement to benefit my estate on my death: Then in the case of suicide my estate has no claim to my benefits and the agreement with the commercial organisation is null and void.
    My point is suicide is a death but not a normally accepted one by moral or commercial standards: Therefore there are still two definitions for a suicide, and two consequences.
    I now take you to the Health and Safety at Work and Welfare act of 1974: Why you may ask?
    I would ask you to read the first 7 sections (paragraphs) of the act. One is not permitted either as a corporate body or an individual to endanger the life of others, whether directly as employees/Colleagues or even the public.
    One under the Act must have a system of work, which is fit for purpose? (This is also inferred by the act), and as a past Inspector under the act, I was always encouraged when pursuing a breach of the act or its subsequent regulations to seek out the ‘CONTROLLING MIND’ hence many high profile cases such as the ‘Herald of Free Enterprise’ and the Oil Platform Disaster off Aberdeen Piper Alpha, lead to changes in the HSW law so that corporate bodies could be brought to account (Corporate Manslaughter), and not just the subservient individuals.
    It is food for thought with respect to the problem you allege with suicide! Here the controlling mind would or could be the individual sufferer, and not their family! Hence when looking at it medically or through the eyes of a holy man (Man of the cloth), when is it suicide? And when is it the quality of life.
    I think if one accepts the premise of the HSW Act 1974 and a written living will then the ‘controlling mind’ is the sufferer and while it may be death, it is not suicide, It would I suggest be called death with honour and dignity.

    • john graham says:

      This is a very interesting post, which poses several key questions :-
      What is the difference between death by natural causes, suicide and assisted suicide ?
      When does assisted suicide become murder ?
      Will it be doctors, laywers or health and safty inspectors who determine the answers to these issues ?
      Will politicians step into this moral maze ?

      In the next few weeks, I will comment more on these subjects as we step further down the “Slippery Slope”.

  2. Dear John this is a slippery slope, but one that needs compassion and discussing at some length. Dr. Harold Shippman to some extent highlighted the Vunerabilty of Old age and ‘what the final solution ‘may be.
    This has I believe lead to a distrust of the medical profession as a whole and individual doctors in particular. The notion of the old GP family doctor who administered palative and pain care appears to have been lost in a mine field of legal niceities and legalease.
    I would personally prefer to return to the system of the family friendly GP doctor and his pallative care and pain care treatment.
    It appears in this modern age one is diagnosed whisked away to hospital, and cared for but pummled to live and then if it does not work one is left to misery at home or if you may wish a peacefully end, and one can afford it? then nearest Hospice.
    Dying has become like a factory production line! there is no dignity or compassion in ones last days, dying to leave this mortal world? Where oh where is salvation?.
    At the end of the day it is a decision between ones self and ones loved ones as individuals and their and your god.

    • john graham says:

      David, I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments of your comment. We trusted our G.P’s in the days when we had a family doctor who was familiar with our health profile over many years. Confidence is eroded when you see a different doctor each time you visit the surgery.
      The express-delivery pill popping N.H.S. of today hardly has time for well-considered end of life care.

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