Before I dive into my take on euthanasia, I want to make a disclaimer.
I’m not sure what I think about euthanasia being requested by someone who is terminally ill, and their pain cannot be alleviate by ANY treatment. However, I believe in miracles and maybe just as some may see euthanasia as the final option, prayers for a miracle is a great first and last resort.
I begin to worry when anyone requests euthanasia and they are not bedridden. People will have differing views on my stance whether they support euthanasia or not.
New Zealand Act MP David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill has passed its first reading in parliament. The select committee has received over 30,000 public submissions and several oppose the bill. Although, different groups and individuals oppose for different reasons.
If the bill becomes law, it would allow NZ citizens and permanent residents over 18 years old to seek assisted suicide by a medical physician. They must be suffering from a terminal illness that is likely to end their life within six month or a grievous and irremediable illness.
Even if the safeguards are enough to prevent euthanasia being misused, as Seymour claims, what will safeguard against the government making amendments in the future to liberalize the bill. That's what scares me.
Pain and suffering - I want out
Mr. Seymour doesn’t want his bill to be as liberal as euthanasia legislations in European nations. In Belgium for example, deaf twins were legally euthanised because they couldn’t bare their psychological distress. Only time will tell if legislation in New Zealand would get out of hand.
Already, I find the stories of Kiwis I’ve watched online who want to be euthanised really discouraging. They describe their tragedy or diagnoses which result in their abilities degrading. Some discuss how they can’t take care of their own personal needs anymore.
People in these videos are not bedridden. Well, their illnesses have not progressed that far yet at least.
As someone who has lived with a disability my whole life, I’m puzzled! Do they need education on living with a disability or is the pain and distress beyond what anyone can bare? I must say they have great courage and patience to advocate for a way to die with “dignity”.
Could people surrounding these individuals encourage them to redirect their courage to see the joys that's left? Look deep enough, I bet there’s plenty.
Each case is different but I'm responding to the videos of people that have become impaired in some way. I don't know how unbearable the pain and distress are for these people, but if they can alleviate the pain I encourage them to make the most of the life they still have.
Living with a disability isn’t all that bad! What you need support with may increase greatly, but with good supports, life is bearable, sometimes even fun!
Choosing when to die is a human right, but suicide isn’t?
One article I read on Stuff NZ attempted to distinguish the difference between euthanasia and suicide. I say attempted because their definition for each both implies the individual deciding to end their own lives. The only “actual” difference is the method they use.
Jones, the author, claims that many people believe that individuals choosing when they die is a basic human right. He uses this position against the common view that the timing of someone’s death is left in God’s hands.
Jones defined suicide as one dying by their own hand which begs the question, does the apparent human right include suicide?
Again, I don't want to include the extreme cases of terminal illness. Though, why should someone not in palliative care be able to request euthanasia? Just because one takes the medical route of ending their life makes their “choice” acceptable?
Am I ignorant or missing the point? A law is passed, Belgium, or possibly New Zealand, making medically assisted suicide legal. This removes people from their pain and misery so it’s, dare I say it, moral?
I don't understand what difference it would make if I only removed “medically” from the paragraph above. Where is the line! When does choosing to die becomes moral and not suicide?
Supporters of euthanasia may say I’m heartless, but frankly I don't see a difference.
Reasons to live
Life is tough on everyone whether we have an impairment or not. We all experience struggles, distresses and pain. The duration and amount of these experiences vary.
Attempting to go through the lows and woes of life alone is dangerous. How we respond to what life throws at us can build us or break us.
Creating communities where people feel valued. Improving disability support and palliative care services. Supporting people to feel real connection to the world around them. These are the keys to giving people reasons to live!
Manuele Teofilo lives in South Auckland with his parents and siblings. He has graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Human Services and plans to work in the disability sector. He enjoys getting around in his electric wheelchair and having fun with people.