Monday night saw the documentary by Terry Pratchett, he of the Discworld fantasy books on “Choosing to Die”. For those who didn’t see it, it was about Terry Pratchett trying to establish whether he would be able to die at the time and in a way he wanted. In the documentary he followed two people to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland where they had chosen to end their lives. The final moments of the film saw one of the men who had Motor Neuron disease dying.
As upsetting, disturbing and strangely peaceful those final moments were I couldn’t help but wonder why on earth he had to travel to Switzerland, to a foreign place to end his life. Why is the government dragging its heels on this issue? Yes, it is an emotive and contentious issue. Yes, we have to protect the vulnerable to ensure no one is coerced into making this somewhat final decision. Yes, the argument against assisted dying is strong though mainly based on religious or moral beliefs.
But surely as a Human Being suffering from a terminal\debilitating disease, illness or injury we should have the right to choose to die with the dignity afforded to us. What right is it for another individual or even government policy\law to tell us that we can’t? Then if we do choose to go aboard it is at a cost, which then makes it only accessible for the rich. While there is a threat that your loved ones may be prosecuted on their return to the UK.
Living Wills are common place now, where they let your loved ones know what medical treatments you want or don’t want to help prolong your life if you are unable to make those decisions yourself. So why then when you are in “sound mind” you are not allowed to choose when to die.
I know that if the time came that I had to make that choice as upsetting it would be for my family and friends I know that they would support me in my decision. You go through life making choices all the time and when your life is full of pain and illness then you should be able to make that final choice.
To choose to die in your own bed, your favorite chair or place surrounded by the ones you love and who respect your final choice in life, must surely be a choice available to all.