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Dear Sir or Madam,
Euthanasia? All life is terminal!
Regarding this controversial topic you may be interested in my, Australian, views on the matter:-
While I appreciate that the Hippocratic Oath in effect stipulates physicians should “do no harm”, this is not the end of the matter.
To only allow (or disallow) a “terminally” ill person to decide when they wish to end their life is looking at this problem from the wrong end. It is not if they are ill, terminally or otherwise, but a person’s quality of life – their perception of that quality, which should be the main issue.
Recall and understand that all life, repeat ALL life, is terminal – we cannot escape the end. It is terminal! Sooner or later we all die – ill or not. Palliative care, however well administered, will not halt this process. Furthermore it is impossible to accurately determine the exact time or date in the future as to when a person may die. So to stipulate a time or date (in Australia six months is suggested), sometime in the future which may determine whether or not a person is “allowed to die” is regrettable, to say the least.
Why should anyone have to “live” according to another person’s expectations? We have no “right” to interfere. It is not our life; it is not our choice.
We, and by “we” I include all humans, were presumably born to live in the world. Now if a human being decides, for whatever reason, that the life he or she is currently experiencing...
We, and by “we” I include all humans, were presumably born to live in the world. Now if a human being decides, for whatever reason, that the life he or she is currently experiencing in the world is not a “quality life”, who is to say they are wrong? We, you or I, cannot experience that person’s view with all the emotional, stressful or painful events they may have suffered or endured during their life to date. How can anyone, other than the person concerned, determine what level of “quality” is acceptable or unacceptable?
We can have no idea how this expression of life plays out; or how life events affect a person’s outlook, towards themselves or others – no one can “know” this except the person concerned. They make a choice based on such experience – good, bad or indifferent - it their decision. You or I are in no position to say they are wrong.
What evidence, what insight do we have such that anyone can proclaim that a particular person’s view or expression of life is wrong and that we (or at least the “experts”) alone know better? We may not like or approve of their view but - so what!
Furthermore, what evidence is there for the “experts” to state that those who wish to end their life may be suffering from a “mental disorder” (hence the requirement – in those Australian States that have passed or are considering passing legislation allowing Euthanasia - for a psychiatric assessment on any person wishing to end their life). Disordered from what? From “normal”? As far as I can discover there is no accepted definition of “normal”. Possibly those considered “mentally disordered” react to life’s trials and tribulations differently from those around them – God knows there are enough “odd-ball” people in the community! Are they “wrong”? Or are those who condemn euthanasia just being intolerant and lacking in understanding or compassion?
Consider what (in Australia) may have a bearing on a person’s perception of a “quality” life; a lack of adequate employment; the current gross inequality in income; inadequate provision of low cost accommodation leading to homelessness; inequality in access to adequate medical intervention; inequality in access to adequate levels of education; widespread condemnation of various religious beliefs and practices (in Australia, principally those that are non-Christian); widespread racism; abuse (abuse in any form – emotional, financial, physical or sexual) and bullying, particularly the use of social media to attack the vulnerable.
Then there is widespread over prescribing of antidepressant and antipsychotic medications (remember that, allegedly, one in five -1 in 5 – will, allegedly, suffer from a “mental illness” in their lifetime). There are many reasons why all concerned should be critical about psycho-pharmaceutical drug treatment, such as uncertain causes, the problematic accuracy of the few diagnostic tests available, commercial conflict of interest, poor understanding regarding the mechanism of drug action and their many side-effects together with the related problem of publication bias [Note: The reanalysis of the – originally ghost written - GlaxoSmithKline Study 329 relating to their antidepressant drug formulation paroxetine, Paxil, (also known as Serotax or Aropax) provides an illuminating, if unfortunate, example of these issues].
And then there is extreme pain. Anything that results in an actual or perceived loss of personal control will (possibly) bring about a loss of dignity and of “hope” - those most subjective attitudes of mind.
Furthermore for some to say that only God can decide when or where any person dies is surely a gross over assumption – how do they know? What special insight do they possess? Is it not possible, because (I assume) God gave us free will that God may have already decided to allow a person who wants to die, to die?
Then what about those who say that the legalization of euthanasia would see the end of compassion? Surely it would be more compassionate to allow someone who wishes to end their life to do so in a private setting of their choice, with (possibly) family and friends in attendance?
Far rather this than, to get their way, forcing a person to take extreme actions – drinking or drugging themselves to death; jumping off a high rise building or cliff; driving at high speed into the support column of a freeway overpass or into a tree on a country road; consume rat poison or drink some corrosive liquid (such as ammonia) and take four days, in agony, to die.
Recall also that the British philosopher David Hume (1711 –1776) said, “I believe that no man ever threw away Life while it was worth keeping.”
Finally I will repeat a quote, from the Indian sage Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986), who said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”.
There we have it – in a nutshell!
What follows below is a “Black Box” warning, relating to anti-depressant medications:-
US Federal Drug Administration Product Information Warning:
Patients with major depressive disorder, both adult and pediatric, may experience worsening of their depression and/or the emergence of suicidal ideation and behavior (suicidality), whether or not they are taking antidepressant medications, and this risk may persist until significant remission occurs. Although there has been a long-standing concern that antidepressants may have a role in inducing worsening of depression and the emergence of suicidality in certain patients, a causal role for antidepressants in inducing such behaviors has not been established. Nevertheless, patients being treated with antidepressants should be observed closely for clinical worsening and suicidality, especially at the beginning of a course of drug therapy, or at the time of dose changes, either increases or decreases.
Read into this what you will (particularly with reference to the re-analysis of Paxil – above).
I will be very interested in any response you may offer.
87/2462 Albany Hwy
Western Australia 6110
Phone: +61 413582949
PS. I am a 78 year old retiree who has never had any contact with any euthanasia group. Also for your information, I am twice a widower – my first wife committed suicide and died in agony and the second, after 36 years of a loving relationship, suffered a severe illness and whilst in palliative care was given, at my suggestion – and without any questions being asked – higher and higher doses of morphine (via a syringe driver) until she died.
The family was in attendance at her death, which was quiet, dignified and peaceful.