My response to Stella Young – Some things are worse than death
It’s hard to disagree with someone you’ve always admired and respected as an intellectual and advocate for causes close to your heart. I experienced significant cognitive dissonance whilst reading the wonderful Stella Young’s article on voluntary euthanasia ‘Disability – a fate worse than death?’ (http://www.abc.net.au/rampup/articles/2013/10/18/3872088.htm). My primitive brain couldn’t wrap itself around the surprise that came with reading about Stella’s opposition to legalising assisted death in any form. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great article with some points that did make me question my stance, but my vehement support for voluntary euthanasia held on.
I believe in humans being able to make their own decisions, as long as these decisions don’t harm others. Take drugs, get fat, get tattoos, have an abortion, swear, refuse medical treatment, or dance naked, I don’t care, just don’t hurt others if you decide to do so. I do acknowledge that some of these actions could indirectly hurt others, such as family and friends suffering with a loved one’s drug addiction, but I do believe that’s their choice. As someone with a lifelong debilitating disability (muscular dystrophy), choice is one of the most important things in life for me. I’ve been stripped of many choices in life; I didn’t choose to be in a wheelchair, I didn’t choose to have others help me with everyday activities, and I didn’t choose to suffer from the mental illnesses that come from this loss of choice. I didn’t choose this life; I was just an unfortunate participant in the genetic lottery. Don’t get me wrong, I have a fantastic life. I have loving friends and family, I’ve had a great education, and I’m a generally happy and content person.
I just want the choice to control my own life and more importantly, my own death.
Stella stresses the misconceptions that the general public have about people with disabilities and their apparent quality of life. She’s right; most people assume that a disabled life would be unbearable. There’s a prejudice, but unfortunately this prejudice is sometimes accurate. Some disabled people’s lives are shit. There’s no sugar coating it. There’s no amount of therapy, help or positivity that can change some people’s circumstances. If this is truly the case for some people, why not give them the CHOICE to end their lives with dignity? There are some things worth than death, and being in great pain, discomfort and misery are some of them.
Of course this doesn’t mean that everyone with a disability should kick the bucket. That’s the beauty of voluntary euthanasia, it’s voluntary. This is why I can’t see how someone could be opposed to it. It is a personal choice that an individual will make, having considered all the options, and being deemed mentally fit to do so. The rules will need to be incredibly strict to avoid what Stella discusses in terms of discrimination and ill treatment from medical professionals, I agree with her wholeheartedly with that.
I think assisted suicide is the next step in bettering our society. Death is an important part of life. We need to remove the taboo and fear around it. I believe that everyone, regardless of disability, should be able to choose when and how they die. I definitely want to be able to control my own passing. My particular type of MD deteriorates my muscles over time, rendering them weak and essentially useless. There is no set diagnosis for me. I don’t know what my condition with be like in 6 months, a year, or a decade. When it gets to the point where I feel excessively debilitated and I have no quality of life, I’d like to be able to choose to die comfortably. I will inform my family and friends that it’s my choice and that yes, it will be upsetting, but continuing living would be even more upsetting for me.
I know it seems morbid for a young woman to be planning her own death, but I’m not scared of death. Without getting too philosophical or deep, I don’t see death as the end. I’m not religious at all, but I take comfort in the fact that the atoms that made up who I am will then be redistributed into the universe, from where they came. I’ve always been open about my desire for an assisted death when the time comes. My family is well aware of my wishes and accept my reasons. They love me enough to support my choice.
That’s what it is; a choice. A choice we need to offer those who want it.
Posted on October 18, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged assisted suicide, choice, death, disability, euthanasia, family, government, humans, laws, life, love, Muscular Dystrophy, Stella Young. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
You’re really lucky your family supports you. I am disabled and often in severe pain. When I told my mother I wanted a legal right to die she got a religious nut psychologist from her church to come and tell me I’m going to hell if I go through with it. Actually, looking back, it was rather amusing. Like you I am hoping some day everyone will have the right to die, disabled and able bodied alike. Sadly, I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.
p.s.- when I first came across your YouTube channel I read your name as Fear Baldness, instead of Fear Blandness, and I was like wtf kind of name is that?! lol I’m a dope.
Yes, death should be one of those things that we get to choose. I like the way they handle drug addicts in the Nethelands. You register as an addict and they give you a small flat and the drug of your choice… you can elect to get treatment, if you don’t want to be an addict anymore, but otherwise you get to indulge your addiction without hurting others and you will die of it in a few years, which is a shame, but better than the results you get from drug addition in the USA or Brazil.
Personally, when I get so I am on the verge of losing faculties of mind or the ability to care for myself, I rather think I will take a swim in the ocean – our beach has a vicious rip tide and several people a year die like that (presumably unintentional). I hate the idea of going into a hospital and dying, leaving my “heirs” several hundred thousand dollars in medical bills to go with my corpse.
There is a doctor in rural South Carolina who I like evry much. He got in big trouble with the AMA for telling his elderly patients that when they get really sick, they should take care of their affairs, say goodbye to their friends and stay at home – don’t go near the hospital… if you go to the hospital, you’re still going to die, but then they’ll take your farm. I hate for-profit medicine.
So we are in complete agreement. For purely selfish reasons, I hope you delay the final alternative for a long time. I think you are a real going concern and lots of people care about you and would hate to see you gone. And one final opinion: if what you have is mental illness, I think we need a lot more mental illness on this sorry little planet.
When I first heard of the concept of euthanasia as a teen, it was presented in the panicked tone that it can only lead to cash strapped children pushing their last parent in a wheelchair off the proverbial stairwell to get at the inheritance money – ‘a slippery slope’ they called it.
Over the next few months I changed my stance. Long after it became clear to me that some form of euthanasia needs to be legal, I found a gem of an idea that made my stance a lot easier to defend.
If your family dog is clearly suffering of ailments that no one expects to ever get better, it’s a cruel thing to say “I love this dog and I won’t let it go. I won’t let go for as long as it takes it to draw its last, god given breath.”
There is a cognitive dissonance here in not allowing our fellow humans the same privilege to end their own suffering. A sane person is somehow considered unfit to make the decision to let go because their sanity is somehow obliterated by the single idea that no one sane could ever choose death. It’s a cruel cycle. Let’s be grown-ups about this. The childish fears, the need to feel in control, the absurd idea that our life is more sacred than a dogs and on that account should be protected even from its owner – it’s sanctioned cruelty against our fellow men.