It's About Who Decides (One More Time)

Being forced to die against my will would be terrifying. And I, personally, wouldn't care whether the death panels making that decision were staffed by private bean counters from an insurance company -- our current situation -- or government bean counters from the Liberal Nazi Socialist Death Squad Agency -- as imagined by the more crass or hallucinatory right wingers.

Being forced to live against my will is terrifying. Strapped into a chair so I can sit in front of a TV set. Or with a tube down my throat while my brain screams somewhere. Or . . . anyway, I can't even stand to think about it. And I, personally, don't care whether the people condemning me are on a private hospital "ethics" panel or represent the power of the State.

I'm not sure why any of this is hard for anyone to grasp. It's not about death. It's about who decides.

My right to control my life and death: essential. Somebody else controlling my life and death: hell on earth.

Unfortunately, I can only say that in bald and boring words. Terry Pratchett recently weighed in on this. Nothing further remains to be said.
Let me make this very clear: I do not believe there is any such thing as a 'duty to die'; we should treasure great age as the tangible presence of the past, and honour it as such. ...

But neither do I believe in a duty to suffer the worst ravages of terminal illness. ...

Life is easy and cheap to make. But the things we add to it, such as pride, self-respect and human dignity, are worthy of preservation, too, and these can be lost in a fetish for life at any cost.

I believe that if the burden gets too great, those who wish to should be allowed to be shown the door. ...

[earlier]
[M]y father's problem was pain, and pain can be controlled right until the end.

But I do not know how you control a sense of loss and the slow slipping of the mind away from the living body - the kind that old-timer's disease causes.

I know my father was the sort of man who didn't make a fuss, and perhaps I would not, either, if pain were the only issue for me. But it isn't.

I am enjoying my life to the full, and hope to continue for quite some time. But I also intend, before the endgame looms, to die sitting in a chair in my own garden with a glass of brandy in my hand and Thomas Tallis on the iPod - the latter because Thomas's music could lift even an atheist a little bit closer to Heaven - and perhaps a second brandy if there is time.

Oh, and since this is England I had better add: 'If wet, in the library.'



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