August 4, 2008

Time to Shuffle Off This Mortal Coil

BEING in favour of euthanasia, - which should be legalised, with a living will to confirm - I support Dr Iain Kerr.

I have had a very varied life as a writer (now with writer's block) - much travelled, published, a member of various writing groups, two poetry awards, time with my partner pursuing our mutual interests in the arts and music. I'm now aged 90, living alone, my sister having died two years ago, propped up on eight tablets a day (three for the heart attack four years ago) and a liability to the state by living too long. I have little mobility, a trapped nerve in my right arm distorting my writing at times, little energy and am very limited in what I can do.

I can still read some hours away, do television quiz programmes with a friend to keep our brains alert, see another for help and stimulation. The physiotherapist I have is herself part of the therapy.

A stick, zimmer, "staff" (shopper, cleaner, driver), and getting my reluctant legs into his car for bank or chemist help me to cope. I know I'm heading for carers or a care home sit-still life. I'd like a sleeping pill to prevent that.

Esmee Nelson, 30 Windlaw Park Gardens, Muirend, Glasgow.

MEDICAL provision for suicide is a grotesque concept - the converse of the premise of medicine to sustain life - and any talk of "civilised discussion on the matter" makes one wonder about how low society's value of humanity has yet to plummet.

Euthanasia of humans remains taboo for good reason. One patient euthanised on the back of a faulty diagnosis of inoperable terminal cancer would be one too many, and it is still within living memory that supposed civilised societies "humanely" euthanised the handicapped, the mentally ill and others believing their conditions to be so hopeless it was irrational to seek their consent.

That is quite aside from the dangers of vulnerable people being pressurised into it by relatives to ease the burden on them, quite aside from the dilemma for healthcare workers of a religious persuasion (there are the horrific potential psychological effects on those who become latter-day Crippens) exacer bating the creeping callousness within the medical profession towards a public seen more as consumers than patients.

Those wishing to commit suicide cannot, of course, be stopped, but they should not expect others to bear the dreadful life burden of being their assistants.

Mark Boyle, 15 Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone.

Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

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