Is it time the law was changed?
Picture the situation: you are suffering from the advanced stages of a disabling illness. You are struggling to carry on, but the pain of not being able to do the most basic things for yourself, like eating, washing,excreting, scratching an itch, getting into a more comfortable position in bed, and sometimes even swallowing or breathing is causing you great fear, anxiety, and, maybe, depression. There is no way out, it's getting worse, and the physical pain is becoming intolerable.
The medical profession work hard to cure you, but have got to the stage where there is nothing more they can do except keep you alive, probably by artificial means, such as drip-feeding, and oxygen,so that you can remain conscious and suffer more pain. You half want to live, and you half want to hasten the end.
In my previous experience of this sort of situation, sitting with someone who is dying, I have seen how morphine puts that person into a dream-like state, with hallucinations, and, as the dosage is increased, they fall asleep, and it stops the pain and the restlessness caused by pain. The person becomes unconscious, and may not regain consciousness before slipping away. It is a relief, because it leads to a peaceful death, rather than lingering a few more days in misery. But, unquestionably, large doses of morphine do hasten death.
To my simple mind, this is Euthenasia. The hated concept.
Is it the most humane course? Definitely.
So it is my belief that doctors practice euthenasia all the time, but down-play it because many religious people think it is wrong. And I believe that doctors get round the law and Hippocratic Oath by saying that the intention is to ease pain and not to hasten death.
Hippocratic or hypocritical, which is it? It's time the law was changed to reflect reality. Why pretend?
My mother's end of life was very much like your descriptive narrative. At the very end, as she quietly slipped away, no one in her hospice room regretted that she had been freed of the unimaginable pain and anxiety she must have endured. Will the law be changed? Not likely. Will doctors continue to treat the terminally ill at life's end with the compassion that will not allow them to permit needless suffering by those patients? I hope so.
So if they treat terminally ill patients with the compassion we would want for our loved ones, why can't they do so openly and withiin the law?
Why can't we call a spade a spade, and accept that this goes on, instead of pretending it doesn't happen, or that it is illegal? Who are we kidding? Who are we trying to please?
Appearances are everything and mean nothing. While I believe this is a decision that can be made by the individual only, the responsibility of the act would be shared by survivors. In the United State the Law condones the heinous crime of capital punishment. Its' citizens turned their head while a President ordered the infliction of torture. But the USA is too moral to allow an individual the right of self determination. The tongue in cheek is hurting my jaw. Frankly, I am not comfortable with a more open release of restraint. Not because I think self determination lacks value, my concern is the slippery slope syndrome. I believe that the current End of Life policy, while not an honest one, provides enough restraint to protect the patient and enough leeway for a moral and compassionate delivery of care by the attending care givers. We really can't tell our Physicians that one of their treatment options is to assist in a suicide. DNR writs are there for a purpose.
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