The Leading Edge, 31 July 2015
A New Zealand nurse reflects on how her experience of caring for the elderly and ill convinced her that euthanasia presents too many risks to the vulnerable.
There was the family that stood in the corridor of a very busy ward and argued about why the individual who held power of attorney was wasting everyone’s time by requesting medical staff keep the patient alive, and that they instead needed to refuse treatment and let nature take its course otherwise, on discharge, the patient would have to go into care and that would eat into their inheritance.
There is not so much a reasoned debate going on as there is just a slew of stories and slogans designed to tug at the heart, to illicit sympathy and stir in us an emotional desire to demand death from our doctors for these beautiful people.
But what about the elderly? The mentally disordered? Those with intellectual and physical special needs? The lonely? The poor?
What will they get out of all of this? Humanity has gone down this road before, it didn’t end well.
There’s a saying: hard cases make bad laws.
To those who support euthanasia, please do the research, please look into the danger that your support for euthanasia presents to the truly vulnerable. Please look into the wonderful work being done by palliative health care professionals in New Zealand.
As I reflect on the many instances of heartlessness that I have seen over my career, it strikes me that there’s no predictive formula for abuse. It cuts across all demographics, all areas of life, all diseases and disabilities.
My experience tells me that there can never be any sort of effective safeguard written into an assisted-suicide law that will ever give protection to the most vulnerable members of our community.
That’s why we need to focus our efforts on ensuring that people live with dignity whilst dying, as well as ensuring that they are afforded care and protection when they are at their weakest by medical professionals who have been encouraged by the state to uphold life and it’s inherent sanctity.
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