PERSONAL TRAGEDY BRINGS THOUGHTS ON EUTHANASIA.
MY husband lay dying. The cancer that had riddled his body and sloughed off all medical treatments moved in for the kill.
The doctors and nurses were able to control the majority of pain through the use of a morphine drip, but there was some pain and discomfort as vital bodily systems shut down.
At 32, the process leading to finality was long: two weeks. With every breath I took and every beat of my heart, I pleaded with God for an end, not of my suffering but my husband's.
In the months prior to his death, and after the inevitable had been accepted, we discussed the end. Neither of us wanted suffering. Euthanasia was briefly discussed and dismissed. Not for moral reasons, but for political reasons: A gentleman who had performed a mercy killing on his wife was facing murder charges and we had a 4-year-old. In the best interests of the child we decided that losing a father was bad enough, having a mother in jail facing murder charges would be irresponsible.
My husband's final act of love for his son was needless suffering.
Forms of euthanasia, or physician assisted suicide, go on daily in hospitals around the country. Physicians and families elect not to treat secondary infections or other illness complications hoping to speed death and end suffering. In some cases additional doses of medication are given that hasten the end. Acceptable, perhaps, but still euthanasia.
Advances in medical technology have lead to survival, at least in the short term, through many disease and complications that would have killed in the past.
In many cases, advances have created time and the opportunity to cure. In other cases the advances have led to increased suffering. For those caught in the latter group the issue of euthanasia is raised.
The concern for most is the issue of protection for those who may not be able to protect themselves. We can all imagine cases where greedy families talk someone into euthanasia for financial gain. We can also visualize cases where financially strapped or tired families talk someone into euthanasia.
No amount of legislation will change basic human nature and, under even the best of circumstances, there will be incidents of abuse. In most cases, the euthanasia decision will be a soul-searching and agonizing one.
Allowing euthanasia will not undermine the republic or cause an epidemic of physician-assisted suicides. Those against euthanasia will not ask. Physicians opposed to the practice will not be in attendance.
Euthanasia will be an option to be taken advantage of by those who wish to. Not a perfect solution, but there are very few perfect solutions to any tough issue.