(Spectator) Isabel Hardman–Assisted dying will make old age seem unbearable

….one of the risks of the Assisted Dying debate is that it detracts from the debate about how to improve the experience of the living. Not everyone will think that being ”˜an old lady hobbling up the road with a trolley’ is an unbearable loss of dignity, as Pharaoh did.

In his book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande argues that:

”˜Certainly suffering at the end of life is sometimes unavoidable and unbearable, and helping people end their misery may be necessary. Given the opportunity, I would support laws to provide these kinds of prescriptions to people. About half don’t even use their prescription. They are reassured just to know they have this control if they need it. But we damage entire societies if we let providing this capability divert us from improving the lives of the ill. Assisted living is far harder than assisted death, but its possibilities are far greater, as well.’

Campaigners against assisted dying may disagree with Gawande’s support for prescriptions of medication that would allow a patient to end their lives if things become unbearable. What if life is physically bearable but painful as a result of an illness or disability, but emotionally overwhelming because someone fears being a burden on their family?

Read it all.


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