Simon’s choice

Say hello to 57 year old Simon Binner. Except you can’t because if you watched Wednesday’s programme on the BBC then you’ll know that Simon took his own life in a Swiss clinic last October.

Simon suffered from Motor Neurone Disease and the BBC followed his progressive decline over the final months of his life. It was an interesting programme in any ways and invites me to return to a subject that I feel very strongly about – namely the right of a person to decide the time and method of his or her demise.

Now I’m not advocating for a moment that perfectly healthy people who have just decided they want to die should go down this route or that they should assisted to do so, but I do believe that when the quality of life has declined to an unacceptable level with only the prospect of further suffering or pain or incapacity to look forward to then they should be allowed to decide when they have had enough. After all, if an animal is suffering, then we grant it euthanasia rather than watch it suffer.

“Ah” I hear you say, “but people are not animals!” Quite so. I agree and it is for this reason that I do not confuse human euthanasia with assisted dying. Euthanasia is a process initiated by a third party. In the case of humans, this would be called murder and should quite rightly remain illegal. Assisted dying is not euthanasia. It is initiated by the persons themselves and should be legalised.

It will never happen in my lifetime in the UK simply because of the strength of the Catholic lobby – people who believe in the sanctity of life than God gives and only God has the right to take away. This is, of course, superstitious mumbo jumbo. Suffering is not an act of faith, it is just suffering. I would like the opinion of these pious people when they are faced with what Simon Binner and his like are faced with. Perhaps they will feel differently?

What Binner’s case highlighted is that these decisions are never easy. They don’t always seem convincing to their loved ones. The sufferer is frequently torn between his responsibilities to his loved ones and his own situation. It is never clear cut.

What is clear is that the vast majority of people in the UK support the legalisation of assisted dying and it is time that our legislature and our elected representatives came to terms with this and moved into the 21st century, respecting the will of the majority rather than the vocal few…


12 responses to “Simon’s choice

  1. While the religious can believe that their god is making them suffer as an extra test-of-faith for those who love him most, you’re always going to lose the argument.

    Personally I’m quite happy for them to believe their god hates me if it means I can leave when I choose.

    • Quite so, Mick. I believe there’s something after death but I don’t think it a bloke with a big white beard who created us in his own image. Anyone who does is, in my opinion, kidding themselves

      • “…..I believe there’s something after death but…. ….”

        So you are ‘like in kind’ with the average Judeo-Christo-Islamo-Hindu-Jaini-Sikh-Buddhist-et cetera-et cetera-et cetera god-botherer, just ‘different in degree’.
        So the difference between you and say, The Pope, is just a matter of flashy doctrine and ponderous dogma? With no beardy guy, I reckon your tenet and creed would comprise such impoverished iconography, that even The Maestro Michelangelo himself would be unable to render it upon a ceiling.
        As for the Arts of Rome, thank god for god!

  2. As for religion, anyone reading my mixture can be in no doubt concerning my stance. Interestingly, Mother Theresa was an avid exponent of ‘suffering’ when in it came to her own ministry. A believer should suffer pain in her ill-equipped hospitals although she did receive money. But whatever happened to these funds? Interestingly, when she did become ill she received the best medical care available. Read and weep:

    • I have, on my travels, been to Mother Teresa’s mission in Calcutta. Her rooms are amazingly plain and simple – just a rickety old bed, table and chair. She seemed on the face of it sincere in her vow of poverty.

      What a shame that in their usual hypocritical way they flushed all she believed in down the toilet by spending a fortune on her elaborate marble tomb…

      • You ventured into the Black Hole? Even I fear to tread there. And I have trod in some very nasty places.
        Tho’ I’ve belted you an’ flayed you,
        By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
        You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

  3. It’s something I feel quite strongly about too. We ‘put down’ animals to prevent their suffering, even though they cannot explicitly say that they are suffering. And yet fellow human beings who are in extremis, and know it, are not allowed to be given the same courtesy.

    As for god botherers….

    As to what happens after your death, I don’t know. Nor does anybody else.

  4. “……What is clear is that the vast majority of people in the UK support the legalisation of assisted dying and it is time that our legislature and our elected representatives came to terms with this and moved into the 21st century, respecting the will of the majority rather than the vocal few…”

    Your Government has every intention of instituting this Right To Die shite – the country can ill afford to keep you baby boomers in Long Term Palliative care centres. BUT it has to make it ‘look’ like it is against it. To appease your vocal minorities. Innit? Besides, psychologically, if the Government doesn’t want to do something, the people are automatically inclined to want it done even more. It’s a quirk of Democracies. The Government, by appearing to be against it, can then ‘relent’ and that way when the ‘majority get their wish, the Government can go to this vocal minority and say, “The people have spoken! Our hands are tied What could we do?”

    The only problem with the Right to Die concept is the inevitable slippery slope to the ‘Obligation to Die’. Many will feel they have to accept an orchestrated death because not doing so makes them look selfish, you know, taking up space and using resources when they have one foot in the grave already. AND I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT EUTHANASIA!!!!!!!!! I am talking about self-imposed euthanasia. This is a MAJOR concern amongst academics discussing this garbage here in The Canadas. And then, the most insidious part of the slippery slope, the inevitable discussions on what are the proper constituent parts of a life worth living.
    Who gets to decide if one’s life is worth living?
    The patient? Are they sane?
    The doctor?
    The State?
    The patients next-of-kin who stand to gain from the will?

    Test Case:
    Fred is going bald. He feels that his life is now not worth living. Does he get to inject Potassium Chloride into his veins?
    The State, and most people would say, “Of course not!” But Fred truly believes his quality of life will be below and acceptable level. Will he be forced to stay alive? Just like the terminally ill folks are now? Though see below)
    Who gets to decide what is a good reason to die and what isn’t?
    Would you want to be on the panel that writes up those lists?
    Not me my friend!

    It’s a huge can of un-euthanized worms, that y’all will be very sorry you opened.

    You are deliberately kept ignorant and conditioned not to believe it if you hear about it, but ‘assisted suicide’ and ‘let me die’ requests are granted all over the place all the time in the Western World.
    I know this

  5. When we die and, I mean when our brains die, there is no longer consciousness. Sweet oblivion for eternity. I suppose it can be imagined as a dreamless sleep. As for thinking that our lives continue in some way after death: this is nought but wishful thinking. For those who propose such an ‘existence’ I would ask for some proof- ‘show me the data’ describing said existence. So called, ‘near death’ experiences won’t do for the obvious reason.