Nurse Rachel McKenzie writes against assisted suicide (Letters, 23 April), saying that in her experience dying patients tended to try to secure “more life, not death”.
If Ms McKenzie’s experience is that dying patients usually want to live for as long as possible, that is absolutely no problem for any sensible advocate of assisted suicide.
I am pretty sure I should want to do that myself.
However, the unfortunate sub-text of Ms McKenzie’s letter seems to be that assisted suicide would be pressed upon dying patients who want “more life, not death”.
That is false. The proposed legislation allows only that assisted suicide should be available to those who want it.
I note that she says “more life, not death” was what patients “tended” to want. Tendency is not unanimity, and there is no reason why every patient must be made to follow the preference of the majority.
As I said, I suspect that I should be one of those who would seek every extra minute of life.
But I would not be so cruel as to deny assisted suicide to those who feel differently from me when faced with great suffering.
Rachel McKenzie’s letter sets out the scenario for the majority of people who are approaching death, and we must be grateful for the excellent palliative care which is available.
However, her approach is very one-dimensional, suggesting “more life” in every case; but this approach ignores the voice of the individual who, contrary to the examples she quotes, says: “It’s enough; I want to end my suffering.”
A truly compassionate application of “care” includes enabling empathic assistance to a terminally ill person who wishes a timely death and which might actually help the family’s grieving process by providing an opportunity for all to say “goodbye”.