Re: Friend says final farewell with dignity (The NEWS, Letters, Feb. 6).
My dear Aunt Margaret passed away recently after a long, painful battle with cancer at the age of eighty-four. She was a dedicated mom and grandmom, devoted wife, and a community volunteer. She spent her last months surrounded by family, dear friends and a compassionate bedside medical team who managed her pain and provided tenderness at every opportunity.
In her last days, she was offered the option of a medically-hastened death. This idea troubled her greatly. She did not wish to impose upon a doctor the role of genteel executioner, nor did she wish to sacrifice the dignity of his oath in order to advance a set of self-serving conditions.
Consider those countries which have decriminalized euthanasia. Eventually the decision to end life is either imposed by another’s notion of quality, or we convince ourselves that suicide is a dignified way to deal with any amount of pain (physical, emotional or financial).
I say to Mr. Reitsma, it isn’t a matter of passing moral judgment; it is, rather, a troublesome journey into moral complacency. Do we have an obligation anymore to address suicide rates? Or are they merely indicators of an emerging cultural paradigm where we now respect choices made under difficult circumstances that we cannot possibly understand?
I would not suggest anyone suffer needlessly or prolong their life artificially. But there is an important difference between death by natural expiration (do not resuscitate), and death induced by state-compliant, state-paid agents that we now feel legally entitled to as partner in our ultimate demise.
Here’s a novel idea – let medical professionals provide medicine professionally. Let them examine, prescribe, and do no harm.