This morning , I went to see a client and he requested that I hop in to his car so we could have serious personal talk while he drives to the hospital to see his own friend who was dying from cancer at the hospital.
At the hospital, the sight of this friend of my friend dying, helpless and his whole body ravaged by cancer left me sad and teary.
As I watched this piece of humanity, waiting to die in agony and unspeakable pains, my mind began to think of the spread of assisted dying worldwide.
I honestly believe that freedom should include the right to choose the manner and timing of one’s own death, while cautioning that the practice should be monitored and regulated to avoid abuses.
Assisted dying is now legal in one form or another in a dozen countries, and the trend seems likely to continue. Last week New Zealand enacted a euthanasia law after 65% of voters backed it in a referendum.
The same week Portugal’s parliament passed a broader law. Assisted dying is still illegal in Britain, but the House of Lords is debating a bill to allow it. The spread of assisted dying is welcome, but the rules are often too restrictive.
In some places only those with less than six months to live are allowed help to die. Patients, like my friend’s friend can be terminally ill and in intense pain, but unless a doctor estimates that the end is very near, they cannot end their own suffering.
No rules in this area are perfect. All should be subject to revision in the light of new evidence. But the principle that individuals are entitled to choose how they end their lives deserves to be upheld more widely especially in Africa where medical health care is almost zero and terminally ill patients are left to rot away in pains unattended to.
May we remain in good health now and always!