There has been a huge furore in Belgium over new legislation that allows for the children to be killed by the state. Sorry, what I meant to say there was that minors had been given the same right to ask for their intolerable suffering to be ended as adults have - and should have world-wide.
The usual cries of ‘oh but it can be abused, and children could be coerced into asking to be killed’ came screaming from the religious fringe hiding behind the misnomer ‘pro life’. We can manage pain, they say.
But they can’t. The medical profession does not yet understand pain. It cannot reliably medicate to relieve back pain, let alone the pain of advanced cancer. Or perhaps the pro-lifers - sorry have to stop there for a moment because every time I use that phrase a bubble of nausea forms at the back of my throat.
These anti-choice pundits are not ‘pro-life’, because what they advocate is not life, it is existence - in pain and horror and suffering, and usually because they are religious. There is no ‘life’ in the horror they would have people endure.
Where was I? Ah, yes. Or perhaps the ‘life-haters’ really do think that wrapping somebody in a fog of opiates until they can’t remember who they or their loved ones are counts as palliative care?
I cannot repeat often enough that it is a relatively simple matter, at least for a society that gives a damn, to put measures into place to adequately protect everybody, adults and children alike. Measures that already exist in a number of other European states and which the ‘life haters’ don’t like people to mention. This is how I would do it.
After an application for surcease of suffering, the case must be reviewed by a panel of doctors, at least two of which must not be professionally connected to the applicant’s doctor. If that panel agree that surcease is an option, the matter goes to a second panel, whose default response is to refuse and who must be convinced that there is a reasonable cause, that the applicant is aware of what they are requesting, and that there is no evidence of coercion
And let’s be honest. Any system can be abused, but if somebody is that determined to relieve themselves of an awkward grandparent or child, there are much easier ways than doing it than through ‘voluntary euthanasia’
The ability to end one’s life, or to request help ending one’s life, when it has become intolerable through terminal or whole-life ill health should be a basic human right, of adults and children, and we should not be held hostage to dying in pain and horror by a bunch of outdated fools who are more interested in their religion than in the well-being of others.