Monday, November 9, 2009

Right To Dignity

Recently our PM Lee mentioned that S'porean should get use to the idea of hospice care due to our aging population.

We got over the 'sensitivity' of organ donation issue in recent years, I wonder when we will get over the issue of Euthanasia.

What we have is Advance Medical Directive. It has been around for ages and few years back, the government tried to revive it with little success. Not many know of its existence nor what is all about. Why - because it is neither here nor there - just beating around the bushes. It allows us to reject medical intervention but does not allow us to die with dignity.

Euthanasia allow us the right to dignity by choosing when we want to end our lives, when it becomes meaningless and causing and emotional stress to our love ones as well. It is painful to see our love ones wasting away day by day.

At the other end, it is also about us letting our love ones who is suffering to have a choice and learning to let go when the time comes.

When we are in uncharted territory and uncomfortable with certain 'sensitive' issue, we like to hide behind 'Morality and Religion' to justify our stand.

The common argument is we should not intervene with nature. Is not all the current medical treatment intervention ? It is for saving life - as the argument goes. Yes, I agree on saving life, but not to prolong suffering when it is just a matter of time before the person dies in the case of terminal illness.

We think it is humane to practice mercy killing on suffering pets and animals, however it is a different matter when it comes to human being. Is it that different ? Are we practicing double standard of morality ? Could it be due to our own selfish need and fear of religious guilt that we refuse to let go of our love ones ?

I am speaking of my personal experience. My father died when I was six. My memory of him is one of hospital and lying on the sofa at home resting. He was in pain, I knew that even as a child. Then there were my 2 uncles - all suffering from terminal illness. Those of us who have been with people suffering from terminal illness would know how bad the last stage can be. They are not able to attend to their basic personal needs (bowel movement, feeding, bathing....). Besides physical and emotional pain, they loss their sense of dignity and being engulf by helplessness. I think to know that your love ones are suffering because of our deterioration is even more painful.

It is the quality of life that matters. Perhaps one of the reasons most want to live a long life is because of fear of the unknown and difficulty of letting go of the familiar.

I know I would choose euthanasia to end my life in dignity and to spare my love ones from pain if the law permits it. Will it happen in my life time ?

No comments: