Vodpod videos no longer available.
A recent documentary about assisted suicide will be shown on the British telly, but it will be unique in that it will show a man who is terminally ill actually commit suicide and die. As you might expect this has sparked controversy.
The film follows Craig Ewert, a 59 year old British professor who suffered from motor neurone disease (MND), a disease that attacks the neurons and cripples the person, causing them to have to live on a ventilator. Mr. Ewert decided to travel to a Swiss facility in order to take a lethal cocktail to end his life, after making peace with his family, and he allowed the process to be filmed for this broadcast. It is a crime to assist a suicide in the UK, which necessitated the trip to Switzerland.
This was a choice the man made, after suffering with the disease for some time, unable to take care of himself, and faced with the prospect of a miserable existence and a burden to his family. The controversy, as you again might expect, comes from people who don’t believe in assisted suicide, as if it were something you can form a belief about.
I recognize that this is a touchy subject, because of the circumstances surrounding terminal illness. The terminally ill are often depressed at the prospect of what lies ahead, and in such a depressive state, could be influenced by others to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily consider if healthy. Of course, if they were healthy, the depressive prospect wouldn’t be before them, so it’s understandable that suicide might be an acceptable choice.
Personally, I would want to have that choice. I would not want to have the choice taken from me by someone who doesn’t know me, can’t understand the circumstances, and who has prejudged the matter without such knowledge. If sufficient safeguards are in place to ensure a sound and reasonable decision on the patient’s part, then he or she should be allowed to take his or her life. Actually, I would probably fear the decision of a religious person more than someone like me, who doesn’t believe in an afterlife. I know that this life is all there is, so I would certainly have to be at wits end before I chose to voluntarily end it. A theist might not think that way.
As a humanist, it seems to me that human life is sacrosanct, but my life is still mine, and no one else’s. Others should have no right to tell me what I should or should not do with my body, especially if their beliefs are infused with their religion. The final say should be mine.
I’m curious to know how others feel about this.