May 17, 2016

Why I don’t support euthanasia (and you shouldn’t either)

Euthanasia marginalises an already vulnerable group and should not be legalised.

Shakira Hussein — Writer and academic in multiculturalism

Shakira Hussein

Writer and academic in multiculturalism

A report from a Victorian parliamentary committee is expected to recommend legislative changes that would permit assisted dying. The stage for such change has already been set through a series of recent media articles and public events.

Earlier this year, The Age reported the case of 55-year-old Anthony Virgona, who died after declining to undertake the regular dialysis treatment that had been keeping him alive. After 20 years of living with multiple sclerosis, 12 years of residential care, and three years of kidney disease, he’d had enough. Before his death, he told The Age that he believed that patients like him should be able to “make a choice to go peacefully” by taking a pill, rather than by waiting to die from renal failure after the withdrawal of treatment.

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25 thoughts on “Why I don’t support euthanasia (and you shouldn’t either)

  1. pertina1

    Dr Hussein can decide for herself how to depart this life and I respect her decision. It is a pity she doesn’t extend to me the same respect for my contrary views.

    1. Barry Reynolds

      Pertina1 I agree 100%, my body, my life and my choice

  2. Desmond Graham

    Agree with Shakira’s sentiments – the actual euthanasia few years ago that was publicised to take place and did eventuate was for a cancer patient. The forensic physician noted that, at the time of committing the suicide [euthanasia], the person did not have cancer as it had been cured and the doctor of death advising did not know she didn’t have cancer. In actual fact her abdominal discomfort was due to constipation.

    1. Woopwoop

      Well then the fault was with the “doctor of death” for not being thorough with his diagnosis.

  3. jackie dickinson

    I am sorry you have MS, however every case is different.My cousin in the Netherlands took the Euthanasia option after months of suffering with pancreatic cancer which no treatment was able to relieve or cure.
    At the age of 76 and after speaking to the required psychiatrists and specialist oncologists he died with dignity , painfree surrounded by his family.
    He was spared the agony of excruciating pain, unable to eat ,drink, or communicate if he had been left for “nature to take its course”.
    Even doctors here will increase the pain relief which sometimes sends patients over the edge as in my Fathers case.We were made aware of this but his pain was unbearable so the family agreed it was best for him.
    Euthanasia should be an option if correct procedures are followed as in my cousins case.
    I have an Advance Health Directive to say I do not want to be rescusitated, medicated, or have any procedures which will keep me alive artificially when there is no hope of recovery.
    I just want to be pain free, and I would like to decide if possible if I want to stay around in agony, with family reluctant to visit because I am deteriorating, or put a peaceful end to it with some dignity.

    1. tonysee

      You seem to imply that ‘nature taking it’s course’ is necessarily painful, Jackie. I don’t think that’s true in the great majority of cases.

      Also, as the author spelled out, we are allowed under current laws to take medication even if it risks death. But to take medication in order to die is to ‘occupy an entirely different moral space’.

  4. Camm

    Whilst your views are indeed heartfelt, your views remove agency from those afflicted to make their own choices. And as long as strong safeguards exist, I believe we should be able to mitigate any potential issues of coercion.

  5. jackie dickinson

    This is an unfortunate case, but a 2nd opinion should be compulsory to avoid mistakes.

  6. tonysee

    Thank you Shakira. Any attempt to show that this issue doesn’t come down to a simplistic ‘left vs right’, ‘enlightened vs troglodyte’, ‘compassionate vs heartless’, etc., binary is welcome. It’s complicated. We really need to listen to all views.

  7. MW108

    This piece is a classic ‘2 Jews, 3 opinions’ level review -almost-of the fabled but unfounded slippery slope argument that if you regulate assisted dying for one specific set of circumstances pretty soon the govt or some other bogeyman will come for you just because you are a feminist, or academic or something else. i guess Crikey has to accept diverse views on this topic, but FFS at least get a fact-driven dissent from the body of evidence.

  8. LesMallett

    You not choosing to exercise a right is not the same as denying me the right to have the choice. I have lived with a potentially terminal illness for 22 years. If it ever progresses I will kill myself. I am not going to put myself or anyone one through me losing control of my bodily functions.
    So with all due respect take your philosophical BS and get out of the way. I have the right to choose what happens to my body, not you.

    1. David Hand

      No one is stopping you taking your own life Les. Shakira’s point, which I agree with, is the coercion that is likely to occur around the line that must be drawn between murder and euthanasia. It’s all very well to use a pin up, like you do, of someone losing control of their bodily functions but when parliament draws the line as it must when making policy, I doubt it will be that easy. Added to that is the fact that most deaths are also de facto financial transactions and vulnerable people are likely to be coerced by the financial beneficiaries of their death and this will become a real problem.
      I fully expect elderly vulnerable people to front up at a euthanasia centre should any appear in Australia, claiming to have “chosen freely to determine what happens to their bodies”. They’ll even sign the forms.

      1. Dylan Nicholson

        The Netherlands has had legal assisted suicide for 14 years.
        Nobody’s seriously considered revoking that as far as I’m aware, simply because situations such as you raise that could potentially become an issue can be dealt with by carefully formed policy.

  9. Graham Henderson

    The issue is the inviolable right of the individual to personal autonomy and self determination.
    The presence of terminal illness or unrelieved pain are irrelevant. Yes there should be safeguards, and no, they won’t be perfect, but the existing laws deny the right of every living person the chance to control their ultimate destiny.

  10. Dog's Breakfast

    “For Andrew Denton, the fear that legalised euthanasia would undermine the welfare of people living with a disability is a cynical red herring”.

    The number of red herrings used against euthanasia would surely feed the world for the next century. David Hand offers his own versions.

    It is just as likely, probably a stronger argument, to suggest that people given the right to die will hold on for those extra few months/years, and perhaps inspire us all. Not having that right, people have to make decisions in the most difficult of circumstances and as often have to hurry the procedure before they might otherwise wish to ensure it gets done.

    The usual linear thinking leads to poor analysis. The slippery slope is surely the worst argument against anything, and is usually proffered when all other arguments have been exhausted. See also ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it….”, arguments of those who have run out of arguments.

    It amounts to this, if I want to determine the timing of my own death by state-assisted suicide for rational reasons, my opponents say I can’t, and yet I make no claims on their end of life decision making. That’s it in a nutshell.

    As it is, the impending departures of the baby boomers makes this a policy certainty some time in the next 20 years.

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