I find myself trapped in a complex moral dilemma, and I’m not sure where I stand.
It all started after reading a story about a 41 year old Canadian man who suffered from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) otherwise known in Canada as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Long story short, the healthcare funding he needed to survive was cut, and alternately he chose to be euthanized in what’s called medically assisted suicide. You can read the article here.
Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I’m new to the concept of medically assisted suicide. I’ve got no blind eye to corrupt pharmaceutical companies and the money corporations make off keeping the sick, well sick, and stuffed with medications, but for some reason I’ve never crossed the idea of medically assisted suicide before and it’s left me somewhere between pro and con without any idea which way to lean.
On the one hand, anything with suicide in the name turns me off. Suicide is bad; it’s always been perceived that way. You don’t kill yourself, you keep going. You fight. You live.
But on the other hand, I’m one hundred percent about human being self rights, and the belief that we are free to make our own decisions, especially if the concerning matter involves ourselves, and only ourselves.
So where does that leave me in the realm of medically assisted suicide?
Is it okay to die if your condition is never expected to get better? If you’re physically handicapped, but your mind is 100% active, alive, and aware of its surroundings, is it okay to choose death?
Is it only okay to die if staying alive merely prolongs your suffering and there’s no part of you that’s even aware you’re alive?
Is it okay to die simply because your life feels like a burden on yourself, your family and loved ones, and you just don’t want to keep on going anymore?
Are any of these scenarios acceptable in society, or is it absolutely wrong to die regardless of whether you’re a vegetable, have an extremely limiting disease or condition, or merely because you want it?
Do you have the right to die?
My first instinct says no. You can’t just choose to die – that’s not how life works. What if you have a mental illness that you must persevere through to find the beauty in life. Isn’t it the duty of other humans to ensure you get the opportunity to battle your demons and create a life worth living? Is it worth the struggle to say you will live for your loved ones, because the pain of losing you isn’t a fair burden to push on them?
Well, on the flip side, in almost every other instance, we tell each other not to concern ourselves with what others feel or want or think we should do with our lives. I would never advocate for a person to pursue a career they detest simply because their parents would be absolutely heartbroken or devastated if they were anything but. So why put your family and friends feelings and wants over your own when it comes to dying?
These are the moral grey places my mind has been wandering. Because while I feel certain without a shadow of a doubt in my mind that just “anyone” shouldn’t be allowed to choose death, what about those people suffering extreme, expensive, or overly unpleasant conditions that won’t ever get better? Do they have a right to end their own life and save themselves years of pain and agony and humiliation? Even if it’s not something their families want? My mind starts swinging yes.
Death is, as they say, a natural part of life. It is the next great journey we all must take and I don’t fear death the way the masses do. Is it fair to burden those in this life who would choose to take that journey before “their time?” You could argue that choosing death is making it “your time.”
And if you say no, it’s not fair to burden them, let them choose death, then where does the line get drawn? At what condition or what disease do we say, “you have the right to die?”
Surely we can’t just let any moody teenager or mentally ill person choose to end their life.
Or can we?
Where does it cross from being acceptable to negligent? Is dying a right that you and I should have as human beings in control of our own destinies?
Is it our duty to keep each other safe and alive? Or is it a dog eat dog, every man for themselves world out there?
And lastly, is it okay to force death on someone who strongly has the will to live, but simply cannot because they don’t have the right insurance or enough to money to care for their condition (my instincts scream NO)? This is what happened to the 41 year old Canadian. He pleaded for home health care. He didn’t want to die. But in the end, without the home care required for his condition, he really had no choice. His government sentenced him to die when they cut his funding.
If we open up the doors to medically assisted suicide, have we opened up the possibility that our government will start legally choosing who has the right to live and who has the right to die? Who’s worth the money and who’s not? That sure doesn’t sound like a decision I want to place openly in the government’s hands, let me tell you.
I know our planet is overpopulated. God it sure seems like it anyway. Could we argue that giving humans the right to choose death (without the stigma) is an answer to weeding out the weak and letting the strong triumph? That could be our new “survival of the fittest.”
If we all have “the right to live,” then should we all have “the right to die?”
I find myself trapped in this moral dilemma, and I’m still not sure where I stand.
Until next time,
Yours for (happy?) writing –