Greetings Blognic Attendees Plus Some Thoughts On Assisted Suicide.
Well, I was in a good mood until I got to the newspaper kiosk and saw this splash headline on the early edition of The Thunderer and my temper got increasingly worse as the week went on. And on that note, I should flag up this very good post by Fiorella which highlights what might be called the feminisation of euthanasia.
If we consider the age group that is most likely to be effected by changes in the law on euthanasia – the elderly - women are going to bear the brunt because, as SCBI points out in its paper ‘Euthanasia and Women’, women by and large live longer than men in western countries and the majority of older persons are therefore female.
Women are more likely to be poor than men in old age, more likely to have taken career breaks and been unable to contribute to pension schemes and more likely to have earned less during their working lives, regardless of their qualifications. Professor Silvia Canetto of Colorado State University found, during her research looking at the Hemlock Society’s database, that mercy killings are typically administered by men to women, and two-thirds of victims were female. Professor Canetto concluded that “the taking of one’s own life tends to be seen as a masculine act, thus mercy killing appears as a more permissible way for women to commit suicide.”
But as Sidney Callahan comments, the issue goes deeper than that. Like it or not, women tend to take the role of carers within society, more so than men. Even today, women still play a significantly greater role in the raising of children, for example, so the transition from carer to dependent can be extremely harrowing for women and lead to feelings of worthlessness and frustration. These feelings need to be addressed compassionately, not compounded by creating a culture in which ending one’s life is treated as the decent thing to do. The 'right' to die very quickly becomes the 'duty' to die as some euthanasia advocates already acknowledge.
This, of course, is precisely the point and what is so terrifying about the bland reassurances mouthed by the slick salesmen of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, or Dignity in Dying as it now likes to call itself. The VES (DiD) won't guarantee that any legislation in favour of assisted suicide will not be abused because it cannot do so. Yet as with capital punishment, if mistakes are made - and let's be frank here, no one is infallible - the finality of death ensures they cannot be reversed, undone or found unsafe with compensation paid to the person involved.
The debate over assisted suicide will be played out in the coming months. It's not completely unlikely that an MP favouring assisted suicide will come top of the private members' lottery and put forward a bill for its legalisation or decriminalisation. We'll have our heartstrings tugged by newspapers publishing emotive copy accompanied by pictures of Debbie Purdy and Polly Pot will be given free rein to foam incoherently about the religious interfering with the natural right of every free born Englishperson to head for the exit doors at a time which suits them.
All that is predicatable. But for one thing, prudent legislation is not best made when driven by the din of shrill ideologues who deal in hard cases but refuse to consider the potentially awful costs of assisted suicide. And for another, despite the Voluntary Euthanasia Society's aggressive colonisation of the terms, compassion and progress don't just belong on one side of this debate. It would be as well for Care Not Killing to remind everyone of that fact.
Hat Tip: My fellow member of the Potty Polly fanclub and do read his elegantly-written post on the subject of assisted suicide too.
Oh and read Dominic Lawson as well. He's sober, thoughtful and very insightful; a world away from the deliberate hysteria of the VES (DiD), in other words.
And when you have done all that, go forth and do good things.