I read an article about an 86 year old man who killed his suffering wife with a revolver. She had been suffering for years and begged him to end her life. I couldn’t help but picture facing my wife in the same situation. Seeing her suffer. Tears rolling down her eyes as she begs me to shoot her. “Will it hurt” she asks. I can picture her final moments, while I’m holding her tight. My last conversation with her – we don’t deserve this. God.
This got me thinking: This can’t be happening. Not in 2013. We’ve sent a man to the moon for God’s sake and we can’t figure this out? I wonder why we can’t have an adult conversation about Euthanasia? A man should not have to make the decision between watching his wife suffer or concede to her pleads for death – he shouldn’t have to be the one to kill her – and surely he shouldn’t be shamed in public for it!
This isn’t only a question of killing yourself. This is a question of morality. A question of what the Government’s role in your life, your suffering, should be.
Should a man be allowed to kill himself if he so pleases? What about help someone else end their life if that’s what they want? Where is the line drawn when it comes to the rights to your own body, murder, and protecting the mentally ill from themselves? Maybe it’s easy to see why no clear solution has been developed yet.
It seems simple. The right thing to do might seem like picking a side and demanding legislation to enforce it. You demand the government outlaw such actions in the name of protecting the mentally ill or as not to encourage such suicidal behaviors. We do no want to send the wrong message about the value of human life! I admit, that sounds reasonable.
On the other hand perhaps you have experienced the slow deterioration of a loved one when you were powerless to help. You could do nothing but watch as they died – slowly in agony – losing their dignity and their life I can only imagine what watching the love of your life plead for you to end their life must feel like. Not wishing those circumstances on anyone you demand a person’s right to end their own life, if they see fit, be protected under the law. That seems reasonable too.
So where is the balance? What is the right mix of the prevention of suffering and protection of those who need psychological or clinical treatment for depression? I think the solution starts with having an adult conversation.
An Adult Conversation about Euthanasia
The truth is that there are appropriate times where Euthanasia may be appropriate and other times when it’s not. The problem is, in my opinion, doctors or other care-givers have been excluded from the decision making process. They are prohibited from appropriately diagnosing or aiding in these situations at all. What’s left is a black market where the truly and critically dying are bunched together with the mentally unfit and suicidal.
If doctors were able to appropriately diagnose and aid with ailing patients and utilize Euthanasia when appropriate people would not have to resort to shooting their loved ones in the head with a revolver to ease their pain. If a person could go, in confidence to a physician, and request an end to their life the doctor could carefully determine if the person is truly suffering or if they are simply ill and need additional treatment.
Instead, what our current system does, is make innocent people murderers. Or refusal to discuss Euthanasia makes it virtually impossible to distinguish the mentally ill from the critically suffering. It forces people to decide between helping their loved ones pass or watching them suffer for days, months, or even years. In the end – sometimes it even prevents treatment completely.
Perhaps what we need is to recognize that Euthanasia is neither good nor evil, but a necessary part of medicine. We should treat it just like any other serious medical procedure.