A person I know is going through a tough time at present. Her elderly relative is at the end of their life and is in palliative care. The decision has been made that nothing more can be done for this person and not to prolong their life. This means that all treatment has been withdrawn, and the person is left to die naturally in whatever time frame it takes for their body / organs to shut down. The only treatment being offered to this person is pain relief as it’s required. This is what I understand of the situation from what I’ve been privy to.
If this is indeed the case – and I believe it is, and is a common practice – I think this is incredibly cruel. Even more so if the person is mentally competent enough to know what is happening. If this person were an animal there would be outrage.
Why then this scenario for a human being? I know there are many reasons – personal views, religious beliefs etc. Probably the most problematic is, who should be the one to make the decision to euthanise a person? Should it be their doctor – or could they be accused of not doing enough for their patient? Should it be the hospital – or could it be accused of just trying to free up a desperately needed bed for someone else? Should it be the person’s family – or could they be accused of wanting to get their hands on their inheritance a little faster?
I am all for allowing people to die with dignity and not to increase unnecessary suffering, as should be expected for all living creatures. The main issue muddying the waters is who decides. In my ideal world, everyone would have a health directive clearly stating their wishes, and that euthanasia is an option open to humans. I hope by the time I reach this stage of my life society has advanced to the point where I can choose for myself ahead of time and die with some dignity.
Sorry for such a heavy topic, a lighter note next time I promise!