Week 4: Why is it illegal?
By Daniel Browne
So, the aim of this blog was to take light-hearted jabs at the ins and outs of the law. But when it comes to the issue of euthanasia, I’m afraid the joke’s already in the debate surrounding the subject. Actually, the debate is fine… it’s the lack of effect that it’s having that isn’t.
The Age reports the percentage of Australians that support euthanasia is 75%, the ABC says it’s “more than 70 per cent” and The Australian has it at a whopping 85%. Whoever you believe, it seems that euthanasia has a bigger support group in Australia than it did in the Netherlands (63%) at around the same time that they implemented their assisted suicide laws. So why isn’t anything being done about it here?
Last year my dearest grandmother lost her battle with cancer. She spent her final three months in palliative care, with most of her stay there being for pain management purposes. The war-hardened Polak never once asked to be put out of her misery. Now, I know that as far as anecdotal evidence goes there doesn’t seem to be any point in me sharing that, but by witnessing the agony in her face every single time she adjusted herself in bed I knew that hers was a fate that I will never want for myself.
Now that I mention it though, I can’t imagine how we would have received her pleas if she had in fact wanted to head off early, bypassing the horrific pain she endured. Maybe it would’ve sat well, knowing that she was free of pain and in a much more peaceful place; that she loved us enough to release us from having to see the constant anguish she was in. But maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe we’d have hated her for it; for not having the courage to see it through to the end or for being selfish enough to rob us of what was left of her. And that’s what’s stopping anything from being done about the law; nobody wants to step up and have the assisted deaths of anyone on their shoulders. Because we all know that sooner or later there’ll be a family of a deceased who won’t accept the decisions of their loved one and take it out, either through legal or illegal means, on the person ultimately responsible.
I guess my only suggestion is that if you think assisted suicide would ever be for you then take measures to ensure you’d be able to pull a DIY job on it if the need ever arose–the only thing selfish about assisted suicide is in the fact that it is, in fact, assisted.
This ‘taking things seriously’ business is making my brain hurt, so let’s finish up on a lighter note by taking a quick moment to poke fun at rapist-looking Brendan O’Neill (against campaigns for the legalisation of euthanasia) and his movie screen sized forehead.
Oops, someone seems to have beaten me to it…