it’s my right to choose.
I first heard about Phil Nitschke when he was working at Royal Darwin Hospital and he appeared in the local press waffling on about nuclear warships visiting Darwin and the lack of a disaster management plan in case an accident happened.
The next time I saw him was at the senate hearings (I think) about the Rights of the Terminally Ill legislation that offered Territorians a dignified exit and which was subsequently overturned by the Feds at the direction of a person that Professor Bunyip should have reserved his undiluted spleen for. (If that is a hanging
participle preposition and offends the literate amongst you, then I apologise.) He was unusually articulate and extremely passionate at the hearings. Of course most of what he said was trivialised by the press and misunderstood by the politicians. He seems to have become more and more confrontationist as he “continues to promote his proposed suicide pill, has produced a suicide bag, and has constructed a carbon monoxide suicide machine.”
I’ve blogged before about my thoughts on the right to die including my total and absolute disgust at opponents who have orchestrated the public vilification of people like Nitschke and an endless stream of obfuscation and outright lies in an attempt to support their arguments. I was browsing a link to ONLINE Opinion when I happened to notice the latest effort by Mary Joseph in pumping up public opinion to try and stop me from exercising my right to die.
This is the danger of legalising euthanasia or assisted suicide. It puts the onus on each suicidal or terminally ill person to decide to continue to live. These options can be difficult to resist when you’re ill – even more so when others believe the “rational choice” is to end your life.
It would be impossible to frame adequate safeguards against non-voluntary euthanasia if voluntary euthanasia were to be legalised. It would be next to impossible to ensure that all acts of euthanasia were truly voluntary and that any liberalisation of the law was not abused.
Philip Nitschke co-wrote an article in the medical journal The Lancet detailing the experience with euthanasia in the Northern Territory. The article revealed that “pain was not a prominent clinical issue in our study. Fatigue, frailty, depression and other symptoms contributed more to the suffering of patients”. These are the factors that should be addressed if we are to prevent more people abandoning themselves to the despair of suicide.
The drive for euthanasia may well reflect a lack of understanding of the treatment options available to people with a terminal illness. Palliative care accepts that a point has been reached where a cure is no longer possible. It switches emphasis from medical treatment to treating symptoms so that the patient can live or die in the most comfort possible.
No-one who has nursed a terminally ill patient knows that “the treatment options available “ are limited, usually to taking the patient to the edge of unconsciousness using huge doses of morphine. What kind of life is that ? Where is the dignity in just existing ? I don’t want to keep breathing with all the senses of a cabbage.
The article continues the right-to-life mantra that only the God-fearing religious have rights. The right to be bigoted, the right to interfere in other peoples demise, the right to overturn legislation legitimately passed in other jurisdictions. No where in any of their propaganda do they discuss the rights of the terminally ill.
And all this bullshit about better palliative care will reduce the desire for suicide – some pain CANNOT be ameliorated. No matter what care is provided, no matter how good the pain management, no matter what the chances are that there may be remission, when I can no longer wipe my arse I want to die! And nobody else has the right to stop me.