For me, movies are often remembered for a single line of dialogue that sums the story up in just a few words.
I will die with or without your help
In the movie Life Is A House, a critically ill father was asked by his son if he was going to die. The father, played by Kevin Kline, responds: ''We are all going to die, I am just going to die a little earlier than we expected’. In the movie Whose Life Is It Anyway?, the central line of dialogue is, not surprisingly, ''whose life is it anyway?''.
These two lines of dialogue sum up two of the principle arguments in favour of legalising euthanasia. The other argument for many will be ''if you don’t help me, I will find a way of dying without you''.
Assisted dying involves the relief of pain and suffering. It can also relieve the individual of the distress and responsibility of finding their own pathway out of this world.
Read more from DJC: A truly valuable lesson from my 60 years
I believe that every individual has a perfect right to take his or her life -- and have never heard a cognitively sound reason why they shouldn't
I've heard plenty of emotive arguments and some very sound cognitive arguments for safeguards. But I've yet to hear a cognitive argument against euthanasia that will stand up to the socratic test.
I've also heard the religious arguments against legalising euthanasia. There are most certainly those who believe that God frowns upon it, while others says it constitutes a moral sin to take one’s own life or the life of another. Setting aside the support by many religious people for state-sanctioned executions and killing in war (which seems to fly in the face of protestations about mortal sins), sins are surely between an individual and their God.
Just as I don't believe anyone should have to behave in a manner consistent with my beliefs, I shouldn't have to behave in a way consistent with theirs. If someone’s faith forbids euthanasia, they shouldn't do it. If euthanasia or any other behaviour is consistent with their beliefs, then why shouldn't they be able to?
The more common cognitive arguments against euthanasia include:
I believe the first two are really just arguments for effective controls and processes. The requirement for evaluations by independent and qualified third parties, as per the recent Victorian legislation, is sufficient to negate both of these arguments.
And in my view, the third and fourth arguments are completely negated by the line from the previously cited movie Whose Life Is It Anyway?
If it is my life, I should be able to take it whenever I want, regardless of my state of health, age or circumstances. Certainly, there should be the requirement for counselling to explain in detail the pros and cons, and even the intended and unintended ramifications, but it is the individual’s life to do with as they wish and in the end, they are only bringing forward what is going to happen anyway.
Other common arguments against euthanasia -- such as it devalues life, is incompatible with palliative care, and that it is not in the best interests of the individual concerned -- are highly emotive and subjective. They are such that it would be very difficult to debate socratically.
Who values life or determines what value it has? I have no intention of playing God in this way.
How is artificially relieving pain for relatively short periods incompatible with relieving it permanently through an artificially induced death, which simply brings forward the inevitable?
Who should determine what an individual's best interests are? Surely, given that they are sane, it is up to each individual to make such decisions.
For me, it all gets back to those two movie lines ''we are all going to die, I am just going to die a little earlier than we expected'' and ''Whose Life Is It Anyway?''
Conservatives should stop trying to control the lives, and deaths, of others!