Monday, September 29, 2008

Nobody has a duty to die.

The title of this article would appear to come from a person who opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide. But rather it comes from the Right to Die lobby who are busy doing damage control after Lady Warnock, the esteemed British ethicist stated that people with dementia had a duty to die.

Warnock stated in an article in the Church of Scotland Magazine - Life and Work:
"I'm absolutely, fully in agreement with the argument that if pain is insufferable, then someone should be given help to die, but I feel there's a wider argument that if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they're a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they too should be allowed to die."

Sarah Wootten, a leader of the Dying in Dignity euthanasia lobby group tries to distance herself from Warnock's comments by stating:
"Baroness Warnock is right on her first point. Terminally ill adults in unbearable suffering should be able to choose when and where they die, within strict legal safeguards. However, she is very wrong on her second point - absolutely no one has a duty to die."

Wootten leaves out of her article Warnock's strongest comments which were:
"If you've an advance directive, appointing someone else to act on your behalf, if you become incapacitated, then I think there is a hope that your advocate may say that you would not wish to live in this condition so please try to help her die."

In other words, even if you are incapable of making the decision, someone else should be allowed to make the decision to end your life. Therefore the "duty to die" should also be a "duty to kill"

Link to blog entry concerning Lady Warnock's comments:

Wootten further distances herself from Warnock's comments by stating:
"Of course, some will disagree - those who seek to impose their own beliefs on others and those who do not think we go far enough (read in Warnock). However, Dying in Dignity's position is clear. When even the best end-of-life care cannot allow all terminally ill people to avoid suffering they feel is unbearable, it is sadly inevitable that some of them will resort to traveling abroad to die, botched suicide attempts and "mercy killings". This situation is simply wrong: we need regulation at the end of life that allows choice while protecting vulnerable people."

Link to the article in the Guardian:
Nicely said Sarah, but where euthanasia is legal and regulated, such as in the Netherlands and Belgium, there are a significant number of cases of abuses and a significant problem with under-reporting of deaths.

In the New England Journal of Medicine study of euthanasia in the Netherlands in 2005 they found that 550 deaths that year in the Netherlands were people who did not request death or indicate any form of consent.

What Wootton and other leaders in the euthanasia lobby tend to ignore is the fact that these decisions cannot be effectively regulated because these are decisions that are made behind closed doors, with family members and medical professionals who have their own personal set of values. Many people believe that an imposed death is the most caring act one can offer for a loved one in their final days.

The only assurance that will ever protect vulnerable people is to always offer the best and most appropriate CARE and to never KILL.

Link to the New England Journal of Medicine article on End-of-life practises in the Netherlands - 2005:

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