Wednesday, January 2, 2013

a conversation on euthenasia

I took a trip south today with a couple of my boys to visit elderly aunties, one in a home, one house-bound. In the car on the way home the conversation got on to the topic of mercy killing (in no way related to the fact we had just spent the day visiting said elderly aunties!). One said he could see the logic, if a person was dying anyway.

'Hmm,' I said over my shoulder, my eyes on the road but my attention on the back seat. 'And who decides if they are 'dying anyway'?'
'The doctors, I suppose.'
'And what if they're wrong?'
'Would that happen often?'
'Well, think of Granny-Em. Think of all the times the doctors have told us she has only minutes or hours or days.'
'That's happened a lot, hasn't it?'
'Let's just say I've planned my mother's funeral more times than any man should have to. But let's take that time about three years ago when they said she hadn't long. Only hours, maybe minutes. She was in quite a bit of pain then too. What if the doctors had said 'why not let us give her a shot that'll end this and put her out of her pain? She hasn't long anyway.' '
'Then Granny-Em would have missed out on the last three years.'
'That's right ... three Christmases ... seeing you guys grow up ... her Golden Wedding Anniversary ... a 'mercy killing' would have taken all that away from her ... and us.'

We drove on for a while in silence. I glanced in the mirror. I couldn't see his face but I could almost feel his mind working. Then he said:

'Maybe mercy killing isn't such a good idea after all.'

I smiled, my eyes on the road, my attention on the back seat.

'I tend to agree with you.'

1 comment:

  1. Kenneth Davis (copied from FB)
    The subject came up while talking to my brother about his father-in-law. Dr. Lloyd Newton was an Ordained Christian Minister in Washington State. He also served in the military and wrote several books. My brother looked up to him. My brother had been the black-sheep of the family and Lloyd had helped straighten out his son-in-law. In the end, Lloyd could not care for himself at all and had loss control of his faculties. Mark said he didn't think it was right that such a brilliant and honorable man should have to fall to that point of pain and humiliation - perhaps euthenasia would have been more humane. Almost in the same breath, my brother mentioned how impressed the doctors and nurses were by the smiles and laughter Lloyd brought them - as they cared for his needs. They said they felt like he had turned the table on them - caring for their need of love and laughter. Imagine the witnessing Lloyd would have missed, if someone had done him "a favor". As my great-great grandfather wrote to his brother (both pioneers in their 70's) "We should not complain about our aches and pains but give glory to God that He gives us the strength to endure them. In that way we can witness to others." (summarized)