Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why Nick doesn't want euthanasia legalised.

Professor Nicholas Tonti-Filippini

Bono look-alike, Professor Nicholas Tonti-Filippini is no stranger to suffering. He has a terminal illness and has reached the limits of what palliative care can offer. The pain relief available to him is of limited effectiveness and only lasts a short time.

He is dying and in pain, yet he doesn't want euthanasia legalised. Why?

Professor Tonti-Filippini has written to state and federal politicians to express his opposition to legalising euthanasia. At the heart of his argument is his view that it demeans and devalues those who are suffering terminal illnesses.

I cannot speak for all people who suffer from illness and disability, but think I can speak more credibly about suffering, illness and disability than those people who advocate for euthanasia presenting an ideological view of suffering and disability.

Facing illness and disability takes courage and we do not need those euthanasia advocates to tell us that we are so lacking dignity and have such a poor quality of life that our lives are not worth living.

Addressing the proposal to allow the Northern Territory government to legalise euthanasia he said
I would like to record my own view that it would not benefit seriously ill Territorians, particularly those who are terminally ill and suffering intractably, if the Euthanasia Laws Act was rescinded. The current legal situation, while not perfect, does provide a measure of protection against the terminally ill being regarded as a burden.

As a chronically ill person I know well what it is to feel that one is a burden to others, to both family and community, how isolating illness and disability can be, and how difficult it is to maintain hope in the circumstances of illness, disability and severe pain, especially chronic pain.

The fear of being a burden is a major risk to the survival of those who are chronically ill. If euthanasia were lawful, that sense of burden would be greatly increased for there would be even greater moral pressure to relinquish one’s hold on a burdensome life.

Seriously ill people do not need euthanasia. We need better provision of palliative care services aimed at managing symptoms and maximising function, especially as we approach death. Rather than help to die, the cause of dignity would be more greatly helped if more was done to help people live more fully with the dying process.

The proposal to make provision for a terminally person who is suffering to request, and a doctor to provide, assistance to die makes it less likely that adequate efforts will be made to make better provision for palliative care services. Legalised euthanasia would give those responsible for funding and providing palliative care a political “out” in that respect.

You can read the whole of his letter here.

Louise Blencowe's father, Trevor Cairney has provided several resources on this topic at the CASE website. It is worth thinking about this issue, because there is a strong push for euthanasia to be legalised in our state and federal parliaments. Is it as simple as some folk think? Is it the answer for those suffering from pain and/or no longer wanting to live?

The article Life's End is worth reading and chewing over. And at that location, CASE also gives excellent support materials in the form of other articles and talks which you can freely download.

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