Thursday, March 20, 2008

Euthanasia as a right

This week, there have been several articles about a French woman, Chantal Sebire, who legally sought assisted suicide due to severe pain and trauma caused by inoperative and incurable cancerous tumors in her face. She was denied by the French courts. Two days after the ruling, she has died.

The first time I saw her picture--a close-up--I was horrified by my own revulsion. But more than just that, I was intensely moved and felt the deepest compassion for her pain and agony, not only from her physical pain that was all too apparent from the distortion of her bulging eyes, but from the alienation she must feel from others. Chantal herself said that children fled from her in horror. She was tired of the pain, both physical and mental. She should have legally been given the honor of being allowed to live, and die, as she chose.

Euthanasia should be made legal. We put our pets to sleep when we recognize their quality of life has irretrievably declined. Everyone, if sound in mind, deserves the right to die with dignity if they so choose.

How can anyone argue that it is immoral to seek a dignified death when we live in a country that thinks nothing of killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in a fabricated war fought in the name of democracy and non-existent weapons of mass destruction? How is it that capital punishment continues to be executed? The hypocrisy runs far deeper than Eliot Spitzer's forays into prostitution.

And we're kidding ourselves if we think that a subtle form of euthanasia doesn't already exist in this country. Doctors intentionally place terminally ill patients on increasingly higher doses of morphine and other painkillers to speed their death along as an act of mercy. This was done for my grandfather who passed away from a disfiguring and grotesquely painful bone cancer in his arm. Of course, he should have had a say in that matter, but I'm here to tell you that this goes on in hospitals all across the country, every day, and no one says a word. Let's take what is hidden and make it legal.

It is my body. It is my choice. And when the time comes, it should be your choice, too.

No comments: