Dignity in life, dignity in death

Published on June 17, 2011   ·   No Comments

by Laurie Penny

Theological dogma should not dictate policy when it comes to assisted suicide.

It’s not easy watching a man commit suicide on camera. The public uproar over the BBC documentary Choosing To Die, in which author and Alzheimer’s sufferer Sir Terry Pratchett visits the Dignitas euthanasia clinic in Switzerland, has reopened the debate over whether or not sufferers from terminal and chronic illness should be allowed to end their own lives. In the film, we watch Peter Smedley, a British sufferer from motor neurone disease, as he swallows the killing draught; he coughs as he begins to fall asleep, and asks for water. The prim Dignitas “escort” refuses. His wife, the picture of pseudo-aristocratic dignity, holds his hand as his head begins to drop to his chest. Sir Terry sits opposite the Smedleys as they say goodbye, swallowing obvious tears. It is terribly hard to watch.

It is no harder, however, than it would be to watch a man die slowly and in pain, longing for release. Sir Terry, whose own encroaching mortality is a constant, ominous presence in the programme, concludes with wobbling lip that this was a good death,

Read More: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/laurie-penny/2011/06/suicide-life-end-lives

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