Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Right to Die

Now this is rare. 8:36 on a Tuesday evening and I am compelled to blog. I've just watched a discussion program on Insight a brilliant show on SBS our multicultural public channel, Tuesday nights, which confronts all sorts of issues, some fun, most serious. Tonight Euthanasia . . .it was heart-wrenching to listen to particularly elderly people's experiences of losing loved ones because our liberal (read conservative) government (they don't even warrant a capital letter) refuses to recognise someone's righ to die and the provision of information that might make that happen.

Whilst my much loved Dad with whom I shared a house for 15 years was a strong opponent of such things, watching him die 12 months after a bowel cancer and subsequent liver cancer was horrendous. He passed mercifully quickly for us all and fortunately with little pain, it was possibly the most difficult thing I have had to cope with in my entire life. Had he suffered, I would have wanted to at least provide a legal option for him to bow out gracefully.

I'm different. I'm pro-euthanasia. I want the right to take Nembutol when I'm ready. Hey I'm a smoker, I'm overweight, I have a family history of various cancers, I even have terminal illness insurance so that I can visit Paris before I kark it (don't write me off just yet) but I would like to have the choice of a dignified death. A suite in the Hyatt overlooking Sydney Harbour, my family around me, a quick dose of an oral medication and life as I knew it is over. I was stunned, ney (now that's a word not often used in the 21st century) outraged by our new Minister for the Aged, some little wet-behind-the-ears 40 something called Pyne who emphatically refused to even consider the possibility of legislating for legal euthanasia because old people are so infirm and stupid they might succumb to family pressure or misinturpret family overtures that they are passed their use-by date.

We euthanase pets to allay their misery(I once paid for a mouse to be humanely put down due to an incurable skin disease and my beloved Basil, and Brenna were put to sleep before my eyes, quickly and painlessly despite my distress) . We cut down diseased trees, we lob not just old people but those at the end of their lives into 'palliative care' to pass the buck on their misery under the guise of pain management. Most of these institutions are virtually Solzhenitzyn style cancer wards where the dying are tube-fed and fitted with morphine butterfly clips and forced to ingest useless nutrients and laxatives until they pass . . . I want to be able to have the choice.

I don't want to have to go to Switzerland on my dying legs to arrange my own departure from this planet through Dignitas. I don't want to have to buy the drugs in Mexico and risk the border patrol (yes I have thought about this) any more than I want to tattoo 'don't resucitate' on my chest to be left alone. This is a world gone mad. If I'm dying, I want to make the choice about how I die and where. I've paid my taxes. I can get an abortion - free . . . I can turn off the life support of an immediate family member after five days . . . neo-natal staff can starve a deformed newborn until it expires . . . but I can't choose my own moment of death . . making these decisions are awful burdens for the families let alone the participant. I don't want my family to have to make such decisions about me. So please, if you're bringing drugs into the country, I'd like 50 mls of liquic Nembutol just to keep on the top shelf of my wardrobe . . just in case. Wake up people, it's not Soylent Green . . .it's human rights.

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