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Our Right to Choose Life or Death

Posted May 22 2009 11:55pm

Yesterday's blog was about healing - Theta Healing - and consequently about life, but today I am concerned with our right to die in a dignified fashion.

I have written about this in the past - Dying With Dignity - and have long considered the subject a very important one. Nevertheless, clearly, our Western culture does not come to the same conclusion, because we find instance after instance of individuals, either in terminal situations, enduring great pain and who desire a dignified way to die, or individuals who are not in terminal situations, but who are living completely untenable situations, and wish to have a legal way out, but who are not granted this option.

The case of Chantal Sébire, a 52-year-old woman living in France with an incurable cancerous tumor in her nasal cavity that had totally distorted her face over the years of duration of her sickness, comes to mind. She had petitioned the French courts for some time to be allowed to undergo assisted suicide. Her doctors stated they would be willing to help her, should the law decide that they could legally do so. This permission, however, was not granted, as President Sarkozy requested another rigorous round of clinical testing be done.

Madame Sébire died several days later, and as we now know it was not a natural death. The argument given by French courts that doctors are not there to prescribe lethal drugs, is right if we consider the atrocious events that occurred under the guise of medical experiments during the Holocaust. However, when our domestic pets are in pain or no longer have a quality of life, do we not opt to make their end less difficult? Am I saying that we should equate our human loved ones, or, indeed, ourselves, to our pets? Of course not. However, I am saying that we should have the same rights as those that we would give our pets. We as humans, are not less than they are, and yet we do not have those same rights.

Over the past four years seven individuals I was close to have died. Some were friends and some were relatives. They died in Mexico, Spain, the UK, Canada, and South Africa. One in particular suffered horrendously prior to death. Palliative care was not enough. Was the suffering necessary? Another was well on the road to similar suffering. Palliative care was soon not going to be enough. Help was given. The road was shortened. The process was more dignified, more loving, easier. Choices were offered and taken. Is that wrong??

A Time article states: " Some French observers of Sébire's case note that laws banning assisted suicide haven't prevented it. Instead, they say, the prohibition has only sent the practice underground, where doctors and medical workers secretly consent to respect patients' pleas to end their lives via over-medication or other means that aren't often detected. Some suspect that may be how Sébire finally died. "I find it very difficult not to offer an exit door that isn't one of love with one's family," commented French Foreign Minister and trained doctor Bernard Kouchner on radio station RMC Thursday. In the future, he said, France must prevent desperate terminal patients from "having to commit suicide in some kind of clandestine manner in which everyone suffers — especially their loved ones. I have a lot of admiration for Chantal Sébire [and] we must create an exception to the law... that would be human, necessary."

Photo Courtesy of Windswept Art
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