Thursday, 4 February 2010

Do we have a right to die

Recently a quadraplegic man "won the right to starve himself to death" (here). It begs all sorts of questions. The case was not so much about this man's rights as clearing any palliative care agency of negligence if they decide to agree with his wishes not to accept food....and that they should respect his wishes not to be force-fed.
A correspondent to The Advertiser rightly asks the question whether this decision is actually 'civilised', as many claim. Not because it allows a person to suicide by starvation, but because by allowing in principle a person's right to determine whether they should not be treated, the person then has to go through a slow but excruciating process of dying by starvation.
I think this is a good point.
Whilst I personally believe we should not go down the track of allowing active euthanasia (that is, doctors should not be allowed to inject people with drugs the sole purpose of which is to take away their life) there are going to be dilemmas like this which need better solutions.
Remember the movie, My Sister's Keeper, which is about death and its excruciating closeness. We need to do more than take intellectualy decisions.

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