The Right To Die

https://www.yahoo.com/news/column-californias-aid-dying-law-100053133.html

The Right To Die debate is one I have strong opinions on. Ever since Brittany Maynard decided to end her life to avoid inevitable agony and suffering and watching her discuss this in many interviews, I concluded that the Right To Die law should exist for everyone, everywhere.

There are pitfalls no doubt. I can imagine nightmare scenarios where people are ‘terminated’ by bored relatives who do not wish to take care of them. So obviously safe-guards must be paramount. That said, I am open to the RTD law be expanded to include dementia patients and those with serious Chronic Illness, including long-term-depression.

That’s murder! You may say. And part of the invariable slippery-slope! But I would disagree. Unless you have been the victim of Chronic Illness and/or long-term-incurable-depression you cannot speak for others who suffer each and every day.

A few years ago I killed a kitten who was suffering. It was in agony, unsavable and its liter mates had died in excruciating agony. It was a Sunday and no pet-store nearby was open to euthanize the kitten. To spare her suffering I put her to sleep myself. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, I didn’t actually think I had it in me (to take a life) being vegetarian among other things. But the compassion for her suffering over-took the fear of harm.

The harm was her suffering any longer and that is how I see RTD laws.

Obviously we have to put into place protections against this being misused. I recognize that many deeply devout folks believe God takes us when we are ready, but I have never subscribed to that. How is suffering in agony EVER God ordained? If a God exists I do NOT believe he/she chooses people to suffer in agony for years on end. Thus for me, that argument is moot.

Without the issue of ‘taking God’s job away’ we are left with the morality of RTD laws. If I see someone suffering as horrific as it is, to consider their dying at my or their own hands, I would want to help them not suffer. If that was their true wish.

In the case of dementia patients, if they sign a waiver now they can ask not to be force-fed and kept alive, but it still means those wishes can be ignored, effectively they can exist for years as a vegetable, and do nothing about avoiding that outcome. This isn’t a pragmatic thing. Obviously our society is going to be destroyed by dementia cases as more and more develop it, but irrespective, this isn’t about convenience of death, it’s about the mercy of death.

Few of us (I know some exceptions) would wish to shit on themselves, not be able to eat, remember, function etc, and lose all dignity and awareness. Most of us would prefer to die. Giving us a way to write this out and have a representative help us achieve this, seems to me, a mercy not a convenience.

The whole subject is heart-achiningly awful and we avoid talking about it for the most part. But we need to think of this. Just recently with Covid 19 ventilation, the question of dying and life has been very pertinent and young people who never wrote living-wills have been in limbo. It is never too early to consider these things because we really don’t know.

When I put my cat of 18 years to sleep it haunted me. Briefly I went back on my belief that RTD was the best choice because I thought; If I can’t handle the images and flashbacks of the catheter being put in my cats arm, and watching him being put to sleep, if I felt that was ‘wrong’ in some way, how could I handle it if it was my dad? Or someone I loved?

Truly I think I am nearly not strong enough to cope with that day. But despite that I would still do it. TO END THE SUFFERING. It would haunt me and yes it would feel worse to me than if they died naturally just as it would have been ‘easier’ if my cat had died naturally instead of being given drugs that killed him. Watching that was horrific and it did feel ‘unnatural’ because it was but sometimes it’s the only choice, and it’s the best choice and even if it leaves us feeling horrific, we should consider it.

I don’t regret putting my cat to sleep. But I regret that it had to happen and I still get flash-backs of the last moments. If I had to do that with a human-being I know it would be the hardest thing I ever had to do. But if I loved that human being and it was THEIR WISH I would hope I had the courage and love within me to do it or be part of it or at very least, support their wish.

Having had chronic illness I know we can be ‘not in our right minds’ and so the issue of ‘how sick is too sick?’ must be considered. Depressed people for example, may be able to be cured, so are they really the right candidates for euthanasia? I don’t know the answer, I only know that if someone I knew had suffered for 20 years and wanted to die, I would find it hard to deny them that mercy. If all else had failed.

This is not what we want to think about but right now, out there, are many people who are in this VERY situation right now and have no recourse to end their suffering. I believe safe laws CAN be made that protect against abuses and I believe at this juncture in our societies evolution we need to consider those things, not to keep our sick numbers in check, but to be merciful to suffering.

The courage of Brittany Maynard has stayed with me ever since I heard about her and followed her story. Some may say that is morbid. I say it is honest. I still think of her, she affected me deeply and opened up this debate. I hope others can get over their prejudices of what they believe others should do and give people a CHOICE. Just like my best friend who doesn’t believe she would have an abortion but believes others should have the right to choose if they want to have one. Such is this debate about an individuals right to choose their outcome. Who can honestly deny that in the face of suffering?

I often think if I live to be old, I will be alone and I fear that very much. I think if it were possible I would choose to end my life simply based on not having enough money to keep going or enough reason and family left to make it worthwhile. Is that wrong? Maybe. But one day that too may exist as an ‘option’ and a mercy, to help those who would otherwise resort to suicide which can often fail and leave awful aftermaths. This is a very sad subject but it’s one many of us will one day face one way or another. I don’t want to dwell on it, but equally, I don’t want to pretend it could never happen.

I think now more than ever, we have learned, anything can happen and we need to be prepared. Taking responsibility for our lives AND our deaths is a responsible decision, and helps those who may be left in our lives, follow our true wishes. I hope I never have to find out, but I believe we should all be prepared for both the best case scenario and the worst. Contrary to popular opinion, taking ones life is probably the hardest thing a person can do, not the easiest. But as this article above states, there are worst things than dying and I would say suffering in agony meets that criteria and forces us then, to consider this subject honestly and with compassion.

The moral imperative

dont tread on me alabamaDon’t look away because you’ve already made up your mind

hang loose / stay nimble Kingfisher / remain open

this isn’t a soap box and I’m not ranting

this is a page among many pages and a thought among many thoughts

I hope you read it and T.H.I.N.K.

This is for the person who thinks women and girls shouldn’t have a choice

did I lose you with that last line? What happened to the certainty of your convictions?

If you are ready to condemn a rape or incest survivor to bearing their rapists child

and possibly having that rapist fight for custody/visitation and be awarded it

then consider how you might want to give me the time of day

before closing yourself off back to your old way of thinking

after all … I’ve changed my views many times based on EVOLVING

we don’t stay the same, we shouldn’t stay the same

life is not a vortex

so here goes …

What makes you believe a girl of 15 who is raped by her step father should

bear his child?

Because I hear you say on the radio; “The child is not to blame so we should not punish them by murdering them”

and the certainty in your voice

astonishes me

as I think of what it will feel like to be

raped at 15 by your step father, bear his child at 16 and then tell the child at 13 when she is old enough to know, who her father is

watch her face crumple

should that child never exist? She may go on to do great things that is true

But we are putting the rights and the acts of predators before the rights of that 16 year old

We are raping them again

We are telling them you may be an individual but you have NO right over your body

you were raped and now you are going to be given this life sentence

and your child will be too

and yes, that child may grow up to be something amazing

but sometimes we don’t need to know every eventuality

we just need to know what is wrong and what is right

and it is wrong to make a child bear a rapists child if they do not want to

just as it is wrong to give that rapist any rights over that child’s life

there is really … no punishment great enough for rapists and molestors

but we are going soft and we spend far more of our time

trying to undermine the rights of women and girls

and I have decided (call me paranoid if you wish) this is

a conspiracy against women and girls

and before you say “oh but other women think so too, it’s not just men!”

I will nod and agree, because I have seen and heard those other women

in fact one is my neighbor and she said; “I don’t understand why a person has to have an abortion they are just lazy because they did not use birth control”

and I wondered because she is a lovely person and quite bright

HOW she could think this and WHERE that judgment came from

but despite this, despite other women damming other women as they have always done

it is the masculine need to control women that is at the crux of this debate

it is the male led world (still) that tries to close its fist around women’s private parts

and tell her what she can do with her own body

and it is the misinterpretation of what we perceive God to want and dictate

that leads us to condemn, insult, hate, shame, loathe, obliterate

the rights of other women to do what THEY NEED TO DO

and sometimes what they need to do is

have an abortion

and it’s not only in the cases of girls who have been raped by their step fathers

but mothers and wives and adults and middle aged women

who for a variety of reasons have decided

as human beings they have the right to decide what to do with their own body

and if there were a war and there were two sides

and someone said to me; will you fight for our side

despite being a pacifist I would

because I have worked with the women and girls who have come to me and said

my parents did not let me have an abortion when I was raped by my uncle

I had to bear this child and that child grew up knowing I hated it

though I tried not to

and I was condemned again for hating the product of my rape

although I could not stop myself

too much of the burden is upon the women

and I do not think those grey haired men who sit in judgement

would wish to adopt my child of rape or your child of rape

I do not think they would wish to have a child of color

or a feminist or a lesbian as their child

I think they want to turn the clock back to when

women did not speak out or wish to assume any control

of themselves or their daughters

and yet

what they do not understand is

before their time

women were in control of themselves and their daughters

and they flourished

until they were defeated

but as with any battle

there can again be

a revolution

and I suspect the time is coming

when women will once more (they should not have to)

rise up they should not have to)

and say (they should not have to)

to their daughters and their sons (they should not have to)

this is not okay and I am not going to lie down and take it

and when that day comes

I will be part of that battle

and would die defending

the right of women and girls to do what they want with their own bodies

and those who will come at me with

what about the babies rights?

what about the rights of the unborn?

what about how murder is wrong?

will hear me reply

what about your cruelty? Enforcing laws

draconian and otherwise upon the bodies and souls

of women and girls

all because it comforts you to judge

others

rather than yourselves

and who is saying anything about

the men who get women and girls pregnant

and how often they do not want

to be saddled with a child

and this is my last thought on the matter;

What would men do if they were the ones who were

raped and abused and what would they do if they

could become pregnant and had to carry a child

and were told by women

oh you should carry this product of rape to term

and give it up for adoption because it is selfish of you to abort and it is murder

when there are so many childless couples who would be so glad of your

birthing factory abilities, sorry, I mean, unwanted child

what would men say if they were told

I am sorry you were forced to have sex and got pregnant

but you cannot have an abortion

be mindful of the sanctity of life in this overcrowded world

and shut your legs in future

the undertone, it is all in the undertone

and I say

if men were to wake up to that?

there would be abortion clinics on every corner like Starbucks

and that more than anything else tells you what you need to know

if you are still listening

and not assuming you know

what women should do with their bodies

because you possess

the moral imperative

 

Choice

thHere’s to you, a sterile woman

for your children will not

inherit the earth

whilst underneath your sweating arms

tired with empty burdens

you hold up the belief

less is more and more

is not always best

if that ruffles a few feathers

puts a nose out of joint

causes a skirmish

so be it

you will stand

among the tall old men with their placards

of ‘don’t kill babies’ and headless dolls

throwing fake blood at women

who enter the sanctum

you will stand and spread

your merciful wings

shining they stretch

to cover even the fearful

do not be afraid you say

I will see you safe

murderers! murderers!

the tall old men shout

rattling their signs and faux uterus

rot in hell!

the words of a good Christian

spat on her dress a glob of hate

you feel nothing no damage

you are the light who guides

these women have decided

and it is their right

not an easy choice

but one they alone should make

not governments or men

with signs and garish photographs

of bloody murder as they proclaim

swearing hate with

bible in one shaking hand

where lies

their mercy?

 

she sits here

in a quiet kitchen

without children underfoot

longing

empty

sad

and is still

and is yet

glad

to protect the ones who can

choose

as she cannot

for her womb

is absent and if they knew

the haters would

say

this is God’s doing

you deserve to be barren

damn you

such is the gentle heart

of a believer

 

Many women I encounter say they would never have an abortion because of their personal beliefs but equally they would never take away the option for someone else. That is what this is all about. Choice. Personally I have noticed  a shift toward restricting/banning abortion, swings-and-roundabouts, in 20 more years it’s going to shift the other way. Point being, abortion is never ideal, but the right to make a choice is an ideal worth striving for, worrying that this is being ignored. When you search for pro-choice online there is not as much as pro-life, giving the impression we’re shifting radically. I’d say it’s more the vehemence of extremists scaring others to speak out, thus I speak out, as a woman who cannot have children and would love to, but believes others need to make their own choices about their own bodies. Will be interesting how many followers I lose by the days end. And that’s okay.