Objectors of assisted suicide would like the laws against assisting suicide strengthened. They use arguments that belong in the Dark Ages and try to curtail personal freedoms with the excuse to “protect vulnerable people” and “saving souls”. Thankfully more people are now more enlightened and ready to assess those views in a more objective and liberal way. I think it’s about time that each one of us, members of a XXI century liberal society, are granted the freedom to decide our own lives –and deaths. If I decide at some point in the future that the quality of my life is not good for me, then I want the freedom to terminate it. And if I need help to fulfil my wish, I should be able to obtain it from a sympathetic person who then should not be prosecuted for assisting me.
My life is my own, irrespective of what religious people think. I do not accept the religious beliefs of people who think they are morally superior and want to impose their views on me, or even who want to “save my soul” I don’t want it saved, I want to be able to do as I please with my life. And with my “soul”. At present, I am in good health and of sound mind, but nobody knows what the future holds, and thinking of a situation when I might be diagnosed with a degenerative or terminal illness, I do not want to receive palliative care. I do not want to suffer the indignities of having people to care for my most basic physical needs and I don’t want to be in pain. I do not want palliative care, no matter how much carers try to convince me of how good it is. And if I try to end my life I do not want to be resuscitated against my wishes. The bottom line: the quality of my life is the most important consideration. Not how long it is, and certainly not the moral views of anybody outside of my own. I am the only one who can judge the level of quality that is acceptable to me.
This is my belief. I do not try to impose it on others. All I ask is that people’s beliefs are respected, whether they wish to end their lives or not. The problem comes when people need help to end their life. A sympathetic relative, friend or doctor would need to assist and they should not be penalized for an act of mercy.
What I am advocating is the option. Having the option means each person decides what they want to do according to their beliefs, values or wishes: It’s not compulsory one way or the other, but it’s there for anyone who needs it. Opponents to this freedom say that elderly and disabled people feel vulnerable and they need to be protected. But I, and many others, feel terrified that we may be made to endure a prolonged, painful and undignified end. And who is protecting Our rights? The argument regarding vulnerable people is, of course, a consideration, as opponents say, that “not every next-of-kin is a loved one”, but workable safeguards can be put into place. One idea is for people who wish to have the option of assisted suicide to carry a card stating their wishes. This would be something similar to a Donor Card, where people opt to donate organs after their death. The Assisted suicide card would state clearly people’s wishes for euthanasia and for help if required. The card could be validated and renewed every so often in the presence of a lawyer and/or a doctor. That way the intention would become very clear.