Saturday, September 8, 2012

Why Anna Soubry is Right about assisted suicide

Today, Tory health Minister Anna Soubry is all over the papers for coming out in favour of assisted suicide.

At last, I found myself shouting as I unfolded the Times from my mailbox.   Soubry, though a Tory, is refreshingly candid and extremely realistic about this matter.

Indeed I am totally confident that by the time I am in my 80s (should I get there) it will be totally normal to end one's own life early in the event of terminal illness.

Personally, I know I will do this, without any doubt at all.   Three reasons. Firstly, I am very bad indeed at being ill.  I get very depressed, very difficult to deal with and have a very low pain threshold.  Secondly, I don't want to cost my family and the state ridiculous amounts of money keeping me alive for an extra year or two during my inevitable decline.  Thirdly, I want to 'check out' in my own way and my own time.

Of course I do see why people hang on to the bitter end.  They want just one more day, week, month with loved-ones - or they hold on to some hope that the end may not be nigh.  Others think of dying in a similar way to child-birth, a natural experience which is, in some way, essential if one is to be in touch with one's humanity.

My own experience is different.  My own grandmother died 8 years after a terrible stroke that left her like a baby, unable to communicate or help herself.    She would have wanted to go had she any notion at all of her condition, which she hadn't.   It broke my heart to see her having to live a life she wouldn't have wished on her worst enemy.

Some people - religious people invariably - will argue that following her stroke, my grandmother became, in a sense, a different person and that we perhaps shouldn't judge her final years by the critera that she would have done as a fit woman.   Again, sorry I don't buy that.  Just because she couldn't make a decision post-stroke wouldn't make it wrong to see her will made while compus-mentis realised by assisted suicide.

I say this with a lot of pain, but I would have administered that ending for her, had this been legal and she had signed to say that was her will.   I would have felt no guilt, just relief that I had been able to do one last thing that she would have wanted.

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