Friday, December 12, 2008

DEATH: RIGHT or PRIVILEGE?

There are a few reasons (one utterly mad one) why we have chosen to buy a house in the French Alps, an hour away from Geneva.

1) The original (and at that time main) reason was that in case we had to move to London, our dogs would face 6 months quarantine but if we moved them to France (like Lord Patten did with his dogs), we would be able to ditch quarantine. THEN after a few months, they could travel back and forth on pet passports.

2) In case we were insane (or rich) enough to spend most of our time in London, France would be an ideal and convenient location for a second home.

3) And finally---I KNEW IT!! ---because it is only one hour from Geneva, we would be close to a place where we can choose to die voluntarily.
(Of course, tomorrow, I'll probably get run over by a bus in Mong Kok)

Probably because we are childless, my husband and I are big supporters of 'assisted suicide' and as early as 2000, I have done some research on it. (JUST in case..alam mo naman ako..) Dignitas in Zurich is the most famous place to go to but the whole of Switzerland, the Netherlands and some states in America (Oregon and Washington) allow it.

Already there is so little in life that we can control and if we can control when and how we die, depending on our situation, it could be either a right or a privilege.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this topic particularly in the UK (it is technically a crime to assist suicide even outside the country) but no one has been put in jail yet. Prosecuted, yes.
-I'm telling you, it's that bloody religion called Christianity!! Meanwhile Jesus' body might be underneath a parking garage --did you see that on National Geographic???

In fact, I have brought it up at dinner parties and the table would go silent or worse, my dinner partner would turn away. Except if he was Swiss.

Now reality TV has gone a step ahead of Survivor.

Broadcast challenges British ban on assisted suicide
By Sarah Lyall
The New York TimesThursday, December 11, 2008

Almost completely incapacitated by motor neuron disease, Craig Ewert, 59, looked at an interviewer and laid out his options, as he saw them."If I go through with it, I have death," Ewert said. "If I don't go through with it, my choice is essentially to suffer and to inflict suffering on my family, and then die."

He chose the quick way. On Wednesday night, Britons could watch Ewert's death on television, in a film showing how he traveled to a clinic in Zurich in 2006 and took a fatal dose of barbiturates. Broadcast on Sky Television, the film - "Right to Die?" - is said to be the first shown on British television of the moment of death in an assisted suicide case.

It has thrown a new bomb into an already contentious debate. It is illegal in Britain to "aid, abet, counsel or procure" suicide. But while the law is clear, its application is murky. Ewert's wife, Mary, was not prosecuted, despite the fact that she broke the law by, among other things, helping him travel to the clinic.

By coincidence, Britain's director of public prosecutions announced Tuesday that he would not file charges against a couple from Worcester who, in September, took their paralyzed 23-year-old son to the same Swiss clinic, Dignitas, so that he could kill himself.

Nor, said the prosecutor, Keir Starmer, would he prosecute a family friend who helped organize the trip.

In a statement, Starmer acknowledged that while there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the parents, Mark and Julie James, it would not be "in the public interest" to do so.Their son, Daniel, was an avid rugby player who was studying construction engineering. He became paralyzed from the chest down after being injured while practicing with his team in 2007. He had tried to kill himself three times.He then convinced a succession of doctors that he wanted nothing more than to die and that he could not do it on his own. "Not a day has gone by without hoping it will be my last," he wrote to Dignitas.His parents begged him to reconsider, until the end. But when he would not change his mind, they said afterward, they resolved to support him.

About 100 Britons have committed suicide at Dignitas in the last decade, said Jo Cartwright, a spokeswoman for Dignity in Dying, a lobbying group. Those cases have often provoked police investigations in Britain but have never ended in prosecutions, she said.

Meanwhile, the authorities periodically prosecute people who have assisted in suicides in Britain. They are rarely sent to jail, Cartwright said, but face many months of distress while waiting to stand trial."The law isn't working," she said. "People are being forced to go abroad to die because they have no other options."Only a handful of places, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington, allow assisted suicide, and only according to stringent criteria.

Britain's law against it is now being tested by Debbie Purdy, who has multiple sclerosis and who is seeking assurances that if her husband travels to Dignitas to help her kill herself, he will not be prosecuted on his return. She lost the case this year but has appealed the ruling.Parliament has been reluctant to debate the issue. But Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Wednesday that he opposed legislation that would allow assisted suicide."I believe it's necessary to ensure that there's never a case in the country where a sick or elderly person feels under pressure to agree to an assisted death, or somehow feels it's the expected thing to do," he said.

Mary Ewert, Ewert's wife, said this week that she was not sorry that her husband's suicide had been broadcast."For Craig, my husband, allowing the cameras to film his last moments in Zurich was about facing the end honestly," she wrote in The Independent, a British newspaper. "He was keen to have it shown because when death is hidden and private, people don't face their fears about it."

In the film, Ewert comes across both as severely disabled and absolutely determined that he is doing the right thing. His final moments are almost unbearably poignant.L

ying on a bed at the Dignitas center, he signs a consent form with the help of his wife. In his labored voice, he says, "I love you, sweetheart, so much."

She responds, "Have a safe journey, and see you sometime."

Using his teeth, Ewert presses the button that will turn off his ventilator. He drinks a fatal mixture of barbiturates. And then, as a piece of music he has selected - Beethoven's Ninth Symphony - plays in his room and his wife gently rubs his feet, his life begins to ebb away.

10 comments:

fuchsiaboy said...

Funny I just finished reading the same article on the International Herald Tribune over my nth cup of green tea. The last paragraph describing his poignant passing was bittersweet. I guess death is really a hard topic for some people. :)

Cha said...

i think the show is good that it showed how people deal with death since it is a sensitive topic. yet, bottom line is that we can choose how to die, how to deal with it.

Twilight Zone said...

very shocking, i dont have any word, sigh.

Charlotte said...

hello kitty......
it's too scandalous for my catholic background. (HAHA...but seriously.) Frankly, i'm more interested in the topic of "living in the French Alps, an hour away from Geneva." Are you somewhere in Chamonix-Mont Blanc area? I'm super envious.

Sam said...

As much as we tout the right to life, are most of us open to the idea of deciding when to go, in an intimate fashion one feels good about, sorrounded with people who knew our lives best? This same article has been water cooler and coffee station buzz at my workplace for the past few days but I guess I made a boo boo when I asked , does anyone care to travel to Dignitas, or even Oregon and Washington, if and when? Kahit bangaw hindi lumapit sa lunch table ko after that remark #?! Bakit? nagtatanong lang po!I agree with you fuschiaboy, death is a hard topic to talk about, matapang lang talaga si Ms. Kitty. Compare the number of comments in this post against the Boorish gehl! Go figure... Happy Friday to all!!

Cris said...

I got a shitstorm thrown my way in a health seminar class because I had the "myopia" to ask why I should be convinced of the premise that suicide is a public bad. However, huffing and puffing aside, they - including the prof who was so excited to start a research project on suicide - couldn't give me a well-reasoned argument...well, not even any argument except that there exists a database which has estimates of the value of human life. And I was just being genuinely inquiring, ha.

ANDYTOWN said...

how come some governments allow war which means death to thousands of people (who don't want to die naman... they're just victims)...

or, some governments legalize the Death Penalty, while not allowing people to die (through assisted suicide) if they really want to...

haaay, life is full of contradictions... :-(

Oriellini said...

I've read the same article at IHT online.I even cried when i saw it on bbc and PATROL.We should all live life to the fullest and full of meaningful memories.I asked several of my friends over a piece of blackforest somewhere in Alabang,and they all stare at me pointless and mocking me for what to them is a useless topic.I pity them!!!

P.S

Kitty darling,any annoumcement when will the book be availble?

dementia said...

If only euthanasia is legal in this 3rd world country but that's hoping for too much. Paano na ang mga can't afford like me? I want the option to choose when and how I die.

dindin said...

when my dad begged us to convince his doctors to let him go, we made him believe we consented because he was in so much pain (stage 4 pancreatic cancer, last year). as painkillers and sleep medicine were injected into his IV, he gave the most profoundly heartbreaking smile of joy to be finally relieved of his pain. i understand this desire to go when you want, i really do. the expression on my dad's face when he thought it was euthanasia justifies, in my head, assisted suicide. (of course, he was just given a higher dose of painkillers and could you imagine the look on his face when he woke up the next morning! it was actually very, very funny... even he was laughing when he realized he wasn't dead yet... still, we lost him. but he went peacefully.) food for thought. thank you kitty for writing about this. it's different when you see a loved one suffer with no end seemingly in sight.

+bobby velasco+ 1950-2007