There’s a statistic making the rounds that 30% of all people who opt for Death with Dignity (euthanasia) never use their escape option.
While I can’t find that article to document it here (that’s the problem with video programs, there’s no easy meta data to tag on a specific topic over the internet), I do believe that a person who finds quality in their life will not terminate unless or until their mind is sure that they are at the end.
There’s been a lot of guff in the news lately that a variety of Death with Dignity laws will lead to involuntary euthanasia. My opinion? Hardly.
There is so much being posted by doctors who actively dislike being put in the position to allow their patients the means to die in peace, that I cannot see others with religious objections being able to sit tamely by, without a fight, while someone self-terminates.
My doctor has been very clear to say that he is keeping me alive in the hope that “future” medical breakthroughs may help me. He is a fighter, on the side of life, and I appreciate his viewpoint. My being of a different opinion does not mean I’m depressed, but merely that I live in the trenches of what he merely observes and tries to aid from the outside, looking in.
He sees a lot of options to extend my life coming down the pike, and while I appreciate his hope for the future, my reality is that many of the medicines he’s asked me to try do more harm than good. Add in my decision to fight to be on disability, and the insurance providers wish to deny me care benefits while also insisting that I work until someone is harmed, and I have to ask – which viewpoint is the more humane?
Do we only work to live?
At what point do we amass enough credibility to be believed when we say that our quality of life is not what it should be, and things need to change?
As I argued with another friend in a post a few weeks back, I am Pro Choice. I don’t get to say what the choice being made should be, but merely that I am all about the right to chose what is best for oneself without having to take a vote.
If we don’t want to pay for people to live on disability, and we don’t want to pay for people to get the care their medical experts believe is best for their particular situation, why won’t we allow the concept of voluntary self-termination to be part of the overall care plan?
Philosophers argue that allowing the concept of self-termination into the conversation inevitably leads to endorsement. Well, isn’t a well-thought-out argument the purpose of being a rational, civilized human being? If we can’t articulate why we believe something should be allowed, then I agree that more thought is necessary.
But, I also argue that rich people in our society have been opting for euthanasia for years, without detriment, because their ability to obtain access to other options due to their wealth means that they don’t have to live by committee.
Many people may take exception to some of the names I’ve called out here, but if you take a look at the timing of David Bowie’s latest album, his appearance in the videos related to it, and his struggle to determine his endurance against liver failure, you may come to agree with me that it’s a subtle confirmation that he, too, chose his end date.
As I’m reading an article in the New Yorker about this controversial issue, I am in agreement that the mother who is the subject of the article, Godelieva De Troyer, may have been a histrionic attention-seeker, who was not a “suitable” candidate for euthanasia. But, that is from my perspective of seeing her as someone with funds, someone who lived on her own and had emotional issues vs. financial issues. Do I have to keep her company and deal with her issues? No. Therefore, it’s not my call about what she chose to do with her life.
As I’m driving down the street and seeing homeless people, people who get up every day and find a new way to keep on struggling to live, to endure, I have no easy answers to this question. But, I do believe that someone who choses to end their life peacefully, with euthanasia, is not necessarily depressed or suicidal.
As I’m reading my latest science fiction story, Patricia Briggs “Fire Touched”, it talks of a werewolf that is thought to be suicidal but who finds a reason each day to keep on living. He’s tired, but he’s also trying. Does that mean he’s suicidally depressed? No. That means that he’s a logical, thinking creature who is trying to understand the meaning, purpose and value of life, over the sure certainty of death. A death that awaits us all in its own time.
We all have crap that happens to us in life. Our “baggage”. Whether or not one can carry that bag any further, or chooses to abandon the trip all together, is a personal decision.
As I’m trying to figure out what to do next to complete my own Death with Dignity paperwork, I want everyone to know that I’m not doing it out of depression but out of certainty that no one ever gets enough time in this life.
I don’t want to be kept alive, hearing every breath I take echoing like Darth Vader sound effects in my ears, and I don’t want to be propped up with medicines that delay the inevitable while causing other problems which shrink my world little by little each day.
If all of life is a circle, as Harry Chapin believed and sang about, shouldn’t we be thinking about how to make our life count while we can enjoy it, vs. trying to delay the inevitable until we are completely miserable and at the mercy of the folks around us?
No answers here. Just something to think about on this cold and rainy Monday.