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Dying with dignity and right to die movements may be opening Pandora's Box

Most adrenaline junkies can tell you how a rollercoaster ride is like a drug, and once you've ridden that coaster a few times you are already looking for your next fix which usually means visiting that amusement park for the latest and scariest ride. The same goes with other forms of entertainment such as horror movies and violent shows. Once we harden to them, we get bored and unless the next horror movie scares us worse than the one before, or if the violence isn't on a grander and bloodier scale it is considered boring.

It's human nature to be unaffected by these things once we get used to them, and while we are talking about the entertainment industry as an example, there are ways in which this works for others as well in real life situations that could have grave consequences.

Pandora's Box

People in today's world are polarized; they seem to have their minds made up concerning a variety of issues and they are either for something or against it. They seldom are in the middle, offering compromises or other ideas that could be better. If a person does this they will quickly be shut down and most likely won't offer an opinion again.

The Dying with Dignity and Right to Die movements have made great strides in recent years, and due to smart information campaigns designed to bring about awareness of those that suffer needlessly, statistics now show that the majority of North Americans as well as others around the world now support these movements, which has prompted many countries to enact legislation that allows for doctor assisted suicide to end their pain and suffering. Many argue that these laws are not open enough, that is to say they don't address this issue on a wide enough scale and that not enough people qualify to have their lives ended by a professional. While both of these movements have good intentions, and are meant to allow those that actually want to end their life to do so, they may have opened a Pandora's Box, of sorts, that we may not be able to stop.

We need to be careful about what we wish for...

What if you suffer with Huntington's Disease, are considered non verbal but some family members understand you? What if you also have a feeding tube, and although this may not be ideal for you, you want to live and experience some joy? This is a real scenario of a person very near and dear to me. She does not want to die and has made that choice very clear. Now, since the value of human life has been diminished unintentionally by these groups, she could, in the future, have that choice taken from her, have her feeding tube removed and be allowed to die in a few days.

A recent proposal in the United Kingdom would allow doctors to end the lives of patients with dementia or other neurological diseases, such as Huntington's Disease, who can no longer feed themselves, without consultation from family or other caregivers.

This would mean that a patient that would otherwise live for years would die and that feeding tubes would be cut off and the patient would die of thirst and starvation in a matter of days. It would also mean that many would not seek medical attention due to the fear that a doctor would deem their life as not worth living and would order them to die.

Presently, doctors in the UK can order this provided they have permission from the family, however, the proposals say that not only should doctors be able to end the life of those with dementia, but others as well.

According to the Daily Mail:

The British Medical Association's "new rules should cover 'those patients who have a recognised degenerative condition – such as advanced dementia, Parkinson's or Huntington's disease – that is likely to result in the patient being unable to take sufficient nutrition orally'.
It added: 'Due to the degenerative nature of their condition, these patients are on an expected downward trajectory and will inevitably die, usually as a result of their underlying condition, although perhaps not imminently and could, potentially, go on living for many years.'Stroke patients and those with 'rapidly progressing brain injury' could also be included." 

Care Not Killing member, Dr. Peter Saunders has condemned the proposals and told the Daily Mail:

"This is a recipe for euthanasia by stealth, but all in the name of autonomy and best interests – the very worst kind of doctor paternalism justified on the grounds that the patient would have wanted it. There are conceivably tens of thousands of patients in England and Wales who are vulnerable to the use and abuse of this guidance. It will be almost impossible to work out what has happened in a given case and there are no legal mechanisms in place for bringing abusers to justice."

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of WeHaveAFace.



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