Friday, February 9, 2024

Assisted suicide debate: these sick people cost a lot so it’s time to move them on

This article was published by Mercatornet on February 8, 2024.

Ann Farmer
By Ann Farmer, a writer in the UK.

Matthew Parris, a former member of Parliament, is one of the UK’s leading commentators. It has been said that his columns in the London Times and The Spectator are “essential reading by many in Westminster”.

So when he talks complete rubbish about “assisted dying”, it’s important to put him right.

In a recent article in The Spectator, Parris claimed that “assisted dying is inevitable” although this campaign faces opposition “from religious people who often hide their personal investment in their faith and attach themselves instead to secular and medical claims, aware that ‘God’ does not, these days, clinch a public debate.”

I won’t hide the fact that I have religious convictions, but I speak as someone who has lived with the misery of chronic illness for decades. It’s not the wrath of God that I fear, but the penny-pinching of gods in the National Health Service.

I have Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome (problems with collagen, loose joints), Sjörgren’s, PoTS, dysautonomia and gastroparesis. Together these affect balance, gait, muscle strength, energy production, stamina, digestion, lungs and skin (although thankfully a few bouts of skin cancer have responded to treatment).

I call it SSS – Several Syndromes Syndrome. In Belgium it is called “polypathology” and it is an accepted reason for requesting euthanasia. When it first came on with full force, over 20 years ago, it felt like going suddenly from middle age to old age. Now I have to use walking sticks, a wheelchair and mobility scooter, but I seldom go out and need a long period of recuperation when I do.

These add up to a permanent disability. There is no cure.

But in my experience, doctors did not care. I encountered a signal lack of interest and downright rudeness – one doctor even shouted at me that “they found nothing wrong with you in the tests”. Another asked me: “Why are you walking like that?”

Recently it was quietly decided that people with hypermobility but without constantly dislocating joints do not need specialist care. It took me ten years to get a diagnosis, at my own initiative, after changing doctors several times. Eventually I self-referred to an NHS specialist I read about in the newspaper and after a battery of tests and a miraculous coincidence, finally I got a diagnosis, or rather diagnoses.

Since then I have met with good, caring doctors, but there are no guarantees – doctors are human too.

Even before the Covid pandemic overloaded the health service, I became horribly aware of how convenient some medicos would find it if patients like me simply gave up and went away – preferably permanently. Legalising assisted dying would be the last piece in the puzzle of treating the long-term sick/disabled/elderly – all of whom could all be classed as terminally ill.

If they couldn’t patch us up, they could despatch us. If they couldn’t help us out, they could help us on our way out. It’s a little problem called human nature, common to us all, which means that we cannot trust humans to “safely kill” the weak and helpless.

Matthew Parris is admirably candid about me, or people like me. We should die.

“As to adding pressure upon the terminally ill to lift the burden they’re placing on others… well, let me bite the bullet. In time, I think that the spread and acceptance of assisted dying may indeed do that. And let me bite deeper into the bullet. I think this would be a good thing.”

He explains just how good a thing it is:

“With advances in medical science, humans will get older and older, spending longer and longer as invalids, and with more and more of the last years of their lives in a condition that brings little pleasure and increasing pain. The option to foreshorten this will have to be more easily available and social mores will change to accommodate it.”

Well, thank you, Matthew Parris! Presumably I should book in at a Swiss assisted suicide clinic for next week.

Parris may well have some idea about the reality of living with chronic illness, but it does not show. The instinct to live is very strong, unless people are mentally unwell, in which case we try to prevent their suicides – despite the fact that they might be facing a long life of mental “misery”. And once assisted dying is legalised, logic dictates that, as in Canada (although the next step down the slippery slope has been paused for a while) they will be the next in line for this “benefit”.  

Parris fails to mention any obligation on the rest of society to improve conditions for the aged and infirm and fails to acknowledge that our health service was meant to serve all who need it or might need it in future, funded by everyone. It was not established for the well and wealthy but for the sick and poor.



Anonymous said...

Yet another BDTD statement.