|read the story here|
I wasn't very much interested in the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia until about ten years ago when I first had regular access to the Internet. Shortly thereafter I met the good folks at Not Dead Yet and learned how deeply prejudiced the euthanasia movement can be against those of us with disabilities.
Naively, I'd always thought that those who kill themselves generally are in deep emotional or physical pain and find death an acceptable solution. No one can know how much pain he or she might tolerate. I cannot judge others. I am too weak to judge others.
But killing oneself and being assisted in killing oneself are two different enterprises. What I do know is that government-sanctioned assisted suicide will eventually lead to "a wink-and-a-nod" euthanasia. There is, after all, the example of Holland and The Remmelink Report.
What troubles me is that so much of the outright advocacy for assisted suicide, or euthanasia, has an aura of thanatophilia -- an undue fascination with death.
I was reminded of this today when reading a story in the online edition of Britain's Daily Mail, an interview about and excerpts from a memoir titled So Far Away, by Christine Hartmann.
When I was in my early 20s, my mother told me she wanted to kill herself when she reached the age of 70.
She was completely calm as she explained her decision. By contrast I sat on the floor of my flat, shaking.
Ignoring my distress, my mother continued to discuss her plan to commit suicide in 20 years’ time, before she reached ‘old age’. She explained she would eat wisely, exercise daily, and take her blood-pressure medication. She would do her best to maintain good health and good spirits until the final moment. Then she would take her life.
Ugly, was my first thought. Self-righteous, pretentious, supercilious were other words that came to mind, especially as I read further into the story.
‘Killing yourself is selfish.’
‘Yes. I’m doing this for myself. But I’m also doing it for both of you. You’re too young to understand, but someday you’ll be glad I did it this way.’
‘I love you. Please don’t do it.’
‘I love you too, Tina. But I’m going to do it anyway.’
Over the next 20 years we would have this conversation again and again. She insisted her action would be the best for everyone. It gave her peace. But it tore me apart.
Perhaps cruel is the best word.
The odd thing is that the daughter identifies herself later in the story with "I believe strongly in the 'death with dignity' movement ..."
"Dignity" seems a concept at odds with what euthanasia brought to her life.