Reflections On A Moving Story

by Matthew Jansen, Kiwiblog guest post, 20 January 2016

Kiwiblog (which had written sympathetically about an elderly Australian couple who completed a pre-determined suicide last year) provided Matthew Jansen, Secretary of the Care Alliance, with an opportunity to put a different perspective of what the story meant.

The international experience in Oregon, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland is absolutely clear: the vast majority of assisted suicide cases are not for physical pain, but for social and psychological reasons. They are about fear: the fear of becoming less than we have been, less than we want to be, and of being abandoned.

This is the heart of this debate: people who say “I’d rather be dead than live like that” are implicitly (and in Matthew Parris’s case explicitly) saying that it is right and appropriate and legitimate to believe that some people – the “incompetent”, the disabled, the ill, the elderly, the different – are simply better off dead.

I think that’s wrong. I think the better response to such fears is to address them directly, and to support the person and their whānau to live their life fully. It’s more difficult, it’s certainly more expensive, but it is better.

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