My humble thoughts on assisted dying

Dare I write a blog on the assisted dying bill? (In typing the title I wrote “assisted drying” – that would probably be an easier topic!)

It is clear that there are a number of very strong opinions on this matter with valid thoughts and ideas to back up the arguments. I do not need to state that this is a highly emotive subject!

I have never known anyone with a life limiting illness who would chose to take advantage of such a bill and I’m sure, none of us can really predict how we’d feel faced with this situation.

I know the bill would only apply to a few people who fit a strict criteria, but no matter what protective factors are put in place what it ultimately comes down to is one person having the power to end another person’s life and I don’t know if this is ever ok.

Another point I find it interesting to consider is that we do all we can to prevent someone with mental illness taking their own life. When their illness, their mental agony, gets to a point where death is a more appealing prospect than life, who are we to say they shouldn’t do it? Having a mental illness is life limiting and life shortening (people with a diagnosis die on average 10 years younger than those without, due to medication, poor physical health etc). When my mind was sick, I believed that ending my life was a rational and well thought through decision. If the bill had been passed, someone requesting it be used would need to be free of mental illness, but in such a situation (with a chronic, life limiting illness) how do we separate the body from the mind? I have been given antidotes against my will, at times I was kept alive to live a life not worth living (I do, of course, look back and I’m grateful for this). If we fight for this to continue (e.g. campaign for better mental health services), who can say one person should be kept alive in a mental hell while another is allowed (if not encouraged) to request ending it?

I believe we should be putting more money into researching how to improve someone’s quality of life; this applies to mental and physical illness. I do not think we should lengthen a life just because we can; quality over quantity is more important for most people. Perhaps our thoughts and beliefs about death and dying could be managed better? It is ok to be dying. It is ok to be with someone who is dying and it does not need to be a taboo subject. Our minds are incredibly powerful instruments; let’s use them to manage the situations we find ourselves in, not, to find an escape route.

So, I heard someone say that MPs had voted “against the over whelming majority of the general public” that wanted the bill to be passed. I have not seen valid statistics to back this and I, for one, am very glad that killing people is still illegal.

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