May I just say I'm pleased Maggie Barry's parents received top-class palliative care before their deaths. That's a good outcome. But for the National Party MP to use the experience as the basis for her stand against voluntary euthanasia inflates an already well-established sense of conceit to startling new levels. According to Barry, since her folks escaped a nightmarish end to their lives, there's no reason why everyone else can't as well.
Or, in other words, there's no need for euthanasia.
It's true. This isn't the first time Barry has happily displayed the thought processes of your average household cat. Only last month she became a countrywide laughing stock after objecting to a childless opposition MP debating the paid parental leave bill. Apparently because Labour's Jacinda Adern didn't have kids, her opinion on the matter was worthless. Barry, however, considered herself an expert on account of a teenage son.
It's hard to know what's the more disturbing; the idea of people being told how to die by a former TV gardener, or that a government MP could be quite so simplistically arrogant. Not only is Barry content to base her view on the most subjective of samples, she's also had the temerity to tell advocates of euthanasia they don't understand the issue. If there were awards for imagining the world revolved around your own head, she'd already be the best of show.
Have previously blogged my support for legalised euthanasia, much to the consternation of some churchy types. Just as with the issue of abortion, I feel people should have the right to choose. As far as I'm aware, no-one's lobbying for euthanasia to be made compulsory. No-one's suggesting a state cull. Just that people should have the right to legally end their life, with assistance and support from others, if they so wish. It's about having the right to choice.
Last time I wrote about this I was attacked for scaremongering after detailing the horrible death of my mother. She died of cancer in a public hospital about the same time as Barry's. Denied fluids to speed her death, she was effectively killed off anyway, but in the most perverse way possible. My father died of cancer too; at home and uncomfortably. An elder brother was overwhelmed by leukaemia in 2005. I'd definitely take my own life before going through what he went through.
The real scaremongers in all this? It's those who seek to derail the inevitable arrival of voluntary euthanasia by warning of death squads and coercion; the whole "thin edge of the wedge" argument. It's those who, rather than admitting some people have no option but to die horrible and painful deaths, lie and deceive about the existence of such suffering. It's those so wrapped up in their own lives, they're happy to dictate how the rest of us should die.
And the most nauseating bit is that we already practice euthanasia, we just don't like to admit it. We're hypocrites. Given so many terminally ill people die at home, often with loved ones in charge of administering pain relief, you'd be naive to think it's not already happening. Hospitals still deprive terminally ill patients of fluids. Why? To kill them. Even the "do not resuscitate" option is euthanasia by stealth. Don't agree? Try it on a kid and see what happens.
Encouragingly, though Maggie Barry's parents had no need for euthanasia, the rest of New Zealand is not so convinced. Poll after poll shows increasing support for the option; ie: more people want the right to avoid the suffering they so often see around them. That Barry wants to deny us that choice should come as no big surprise. Given her stance on the PPL bill, she probably thinks no-one should comment on euthanasia unless they've tried it.
» Read more of Richard Boock in the Sunday Star Times.
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