Friday, 17 August 2012

Kind Or Cruel?

Anyone with the slightest drop of compassion, must have felt sympathy with Tony Nicklinson and another 'locked-in syndrome' sufferer named only as Martin, when three High Court judges ruled that it was not the place of the courts to 'usurp the function of Parliament by effectively changing the law.

Tony Nicklinson wanted legal assurance that his doctor would not be prosecuted if he gave him a lethal dose of painkillers.  Martin wanted permission for volunteers to be able to help him go to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland because his wife felt unable to help him, even though she respects his wishes.

Under recent guidelines from the Director of Public Prosecutions only family members, or close friends who are motivated by compassion, are unlikely to be prosecuted for assisting a suicide.

Mr Nicklinson describes his life as:

“My life following my stroke is undignified, distressing and intolerable. I wish to be able to exercise the freedom which everyone else would have - to decide how to end this constant tortuous situation.”

Anti-euthansia campaigners and doctors leaders welcomed yesterday's judgement. Prof. John Saunders, chair of the ethics committee of the Royal College of Physicians, said a change in the law would have had 'severe implications for the way society views disabled people'.

I disagree.  The judgement shows the inability of our so-called tolerant and caring society to give us a legal framework that is more appropriate to the 21st century.  It is nothing to do with how society views disabled people.  That excuse should no longer be acceptable and each case should be judged on its own merits.

 One comment I heard yesterday was that Mr Nicklinson had to choice to refuse treatment and that would eventually bring about his death.  How cruel to suggest that he suffers even more in his desperation to leave his intolerable world.

Earlier this year the MSL Margo MacDonald launched a fresh attempt to give terminally ill people in Scotland the right to choose when to die. (Her previous End of Life Assistance Bill fell in a free vote).

Unfortunately Margo's Bill does not include cases such as Mr Nicklinson's or Martin's because they are not regarded as terminally ill.

I seldom agree with Poly Toybee, but I do today.


Joe Public said...

It should be everybody's Human Right to be able to decide if and when they want to die with dignity.

RMcGeddon said...

I read that Polly article and she seems to end up blaming it all on religion with rubbish like this..

"The palliative care profession has been the most effective opponent because of their wonderful work for the dying. But they are strongly religiously motivated and shameless in their pretence that they can ensure everyone always has a pain-free end"

If you have any involvement with relatives in palliative care you will know that they never claim to offer a definite pain free end and never mention religion. The one's I've met have been atheists.

The best way to die quickly is to get into a care home. The rapid decline is amazing to watch. Over use of drugs, depression and poor care are killers.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

It is a sad day when the law can assume the ability to pass a life sentence, yet declares it hasn't the capability to end a life in purgatory.

Apogee said...

Seems they are happy enough to play with legislation when its the human rights act.

subrosa said...

Good point Crinkly.

subrosa said...

Shame this type of situation isn't included in the HRA Apogee.

subrosa said...

It should be Joe but sadly it isn't.

subrosa said...

Having been involved with relatives in palliative care RM, I think it's a case of 50/50, although none spoke of religion as any reason.

The opponents to any form of assisted suicide (call it what you will) do seem to come from religious sources though.

Dioclese said...

Here we go again - 'anti euthanasia campaigners' which can be defined as a group of people unable to differentiate between deciding someone should be killed and some deciding he no longer wants to go on living.

These people make me sick. They have no right to decide that I must suffer for as long as possible. They're going to get one hell of a shock when they die and can't find a set of pearly gates...

Hamish said...

In the old days when you had a bank manager whom you knew in person and likewise a GP, you could rely on them doing the right thing. I am not convinced that Harold Shipman was as bad as he was painted,

subrosa said...

The sad thing in these cases is that if either man had the physical ability to stick a needle into themselves then there would be no protest Dioclese. They have no choices but to exist at the behest of their carers.

subrosa said...

I'm sure there are still some doctors around who respect their patients wishes Hamish.

Last year I wrote about the trial of Howard Martin who was a GP in Yorkshire. I know the man well a I was a patient of his when he was a Colonel in the Army Medical Corps. Even today I would trust him to make the right decision about my wellbeing.

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