Friday, July 23, 2021

Let me live a happy life with motor neurone disease, no to assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Dr Peter Scott Morgan
Dr Peter Scott-Morgan, who is a tech pioneer, wrote an excellent opinion article that was published by inews in the UK titled: Pioneering tech lets me live a happy life with motor neurone disease (MND) – I’m wary of assisted dying law changes. Scott Morgan examines the issue of assisted suicide from a personal point of view and as a person who has researched the issue.

Scott-Morgan begins his article by acknowledging that when he heard about the assisted suicide debate, he intuitively supported it, thinking it was reasonable, compassionate and humane. But then he changed his mind:
But as a scientist, I’m trained to question even the obvious. So, I set about researching the bill’s pivotal assumption that it’s possible to ensure informed choice without pressure. And I focused on motor neurone disease (MND) – a cruel, incurable disease often associated with assisted suicide.

Scott Morgan writes that he has spent 30 years analysing complex social systems to predict unexpected consequences and as a person with (MND) who was told he had 6 months to live in 2017, he understands the issue of assisted suicide. He than writes that his research has uncovered three things.

1. His overall quality of life is exceptional. Scott Morgan writes:

Already, my overall quality of life is exceptional. I have love. I have fun. I have hope. I have dreams. I have purpose. And I’ve found the trick to enjoying total paralysis is simply to imagine you’re in a luxury spa hotel and the maître d insisted you put your feet up, and don’t move a muscle.

That isn’t true for everyone with life-limiting conditions, but it should be. It would take a tiny proportion of the NHS budget to ensure people get the support that they need, as well as the help that allows them to live in a way that is rich and fulfilling.
2. It’s impossible to make the choice to live – let alone thrive – if you don’t know about and have access to life-saving procedures. Scott Morgan explains:
Mine is only one instance of rewriting the future of extreme disability. How many doctors tell their newly-diagnosed MND patients that there’s such hope? It’s impossible to make the choice to live – let alone thrive – if you don’t know about and have access to life-saving procedures.

Let’s give an example. To survive with MND long-term, you typically need an operation called a tracheostomy that lets a portable device breathe for you, as well as a cough-assist machine that clears your lungs of phlegm.

In the UK, decisions on whether these options are available to you if you have MND are made by local NHS trusts, not nationally. As a result, some who desperately want to live with MND aren’t able to have the operation – because of where they live. Tracheostomies are commonplace in some health care systems such as Japan. It is rarely used in United Kingdom where it is reported that approximately one per cent of those with MND have one.
3. It’s impossible to ensure people make their decision without pressure when the current system is so unrelentingly negative. Scott Morgan writes:
Just do an internet search of “MND” and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll be slapped in the face by a two-year average life expectancy, heart-breaking descriptions of how the “cruellest disease” translates into “intolerable suffering” – for you, for everyone you love – and a level of negativity that made even me doubt scientific logic.

Avoiding coercion requires people to believe there are serious alternatives. Otherwise, it’s a sham ritual of decision making whose outcome was never really in question.
So Scott Morgan concludes:
So, what do I now feel about the Bill to change the law on assisted suicide? Anguish that some with extreme disability may unnecessarily kill themselves in anticipation of what they believe will inevitably happen and upset at the injustice of protecting an individual’s human right to choose to die, without putting the same effort, education and funding, into their right to thrive.

...Perhaps unknown to its designers (of the assisted suicide bill), these proposals risk unnecessarily culling the very people who would cost the most to keep alive and help thrive. That may be economically convenient. But it’s also cruel and uncivilised.

We’re better than that.
Peter Scott Morgan proves that legalizing assisted suicide does not provide equality or a death with dignity but rather reduces equality and eliminates real choice.

1 comment:

Speighdd said...

While I am in general agreement with Dr Scott-Morgan, I would challenge his apparent acceptance of a right to choose to die, and would suggest that he is unintentionally following the pro-death lobby in confusing the right to BE ABLE TO choose to die, with a right to ACTUALLY CHOOSE TO die. Only the former is the right in general to the exercise of freewill: the latter a particular exercise of that right, whose wrongfulness as a particular choice disqualifies it from being rightfully made, and therefore invalidates any right to make it.

While there is, of course, a right to choose to accept death suffered unintentionally,there is no right to intentionally choose death itself, since that is the choice of self annihilation, either by ceasing to exist, or by never knowing that one has ever even existed, or by forever wanting, but never being able, NOT to exist.