Looking at the current news stories, three salient events highlight the talk around euthanasia: and their basic message is, society doesn’t care. It would prefer you to die badly.
Lord Falconer’s long-awaited Commission on Assisted Dying report was released a few days ago. The usual flurry of controversy. The shoring up of opinion by strident anti-euthanasia talking heads, the usual warm glow of supporters claiming it was a move in the right direction. A move in the right direction for whom?
Not the people needing assistance in dying now. Not the people for whom life has become unbearable and their illness unrelievable. Not the people who might have chosen a peaceful death with a ‘Gladd Bag’ produced by an elderly lady, since hounded by the FBI. Not for people like Lauren Gill and Jamie Chianese, who desperately ended their lives last month with horribly toxic chemicals in the back of a car. Not for those who might have received expert support and counselling if archaic attitudes didn’t prevent them from coming forward. Not those who must die alone rather than have a loved one present. Not for this organisation – which would like to become redundant if the state would look after the needs of persons rationally and reasonably wanting to draw their life to a peaceful close.
The end result is, society puts peaceful means of dying as far out of people’s reach as it can. North Sea gas, barbiturates, Gladd bags. UK law prevents loving support being given in person to some dying people at the time they most really need it. It says, “Don’t use helium, don’t use pills, and by law have a catalytic converter fitted to your car in case you were thinking of exhaust fumes . . . instead, use noxious and corrosive household chemical, dangle from the end of a rope, or throw yourself into traffic.” Because determinedly suicidal people, whether rational and terminally ill or not, will find a way to die by suicide. Society merely mandates the most accessible means. In this respect, our British society has the mentality of a torturer.
Nice try, Lord Falconer. Better luck next time.