When terminal illness robs people of a long and happy future, leaving them only with the ashes of suffering and decline, who would say that we should refuse to end their suffering should they openly request it? Those that propose we deny people the right to choose an end to their suffering are proposing that force people to endure against their will. Let us talk plainly; this is torture.
There are some who would point to how palliative care can mitigate pain and suffering. If so, and they believe pain relief intervention can mitigate suffering, then they have nothing to fear from giving people the choice. If palliative care is effective people will choose to live. However, if they are wrong and palliative care is not as effective as claimed giving people a choice will allow them to end their suffering. If people are not given that choice they are condemned to a fate more terrible than the worst possible punishment the state can impose. We do not after all permit the torture of criminals.
People in need of this law change are not yearning for death; they simply want the reassurance that if the time comes they will have the human right to end their lives on their own terms. There is nothing brave in needless suffering. The opponents of choice seek to ensure thousands more are denied the opportunity to make their own decision.
Those who support end of life choice are not trying to encourage people to end their life. We all care deeply about our loved ones and wish to see them live long happy lives. This issue only occurs when the door to a long happy life has closed and people are facing slow decline. It is not for me or anyone else to tell those unfortunate souls in this situation what they should do, when the suffering outweighs the value of continued life.
Similarly forcing medical professionals to conduct or help with end of life procedures is a violation of their rights. However, in a situation where medical intervention cannot help, where medical professionals have exhausted the options and an individual faces either a slow painful end or ending their life early it appears to me that helping them would be the compassionate thing to do.
Right now friends of mine face this future. Nothing can diminish the heartbreak one feels for a family suffering the illness of one of their own. There is no illusion that giving people choice will make it easy, or the prospect of death any less upsetting. It is heartbreaking to see. The only thing worse than giving people this choice is to deny it to them. To force them. To trap them. To punish them and their family. We have the right to choose; it is only time before the state accepts it.