Sunday, January 4, 2009

Kym Bonython asks for the “right to die”

Euthanasia, Assisted Sucide, Right to Die

There is no such thing as a "right to die." A right is a moral claim, and we have no claim on death—death has a claim on us.

Art expert and former air force pilot Kym Bonython has thrown his support behind the latest attempt to pass voluntary euthanasia laws in South Australia.

Mr Bonython, 88, said on Friday he still had much to live for. "Some good friends of mine have died painful and lingering deaths and I know that, given the chance, they would have sought the right to have more control at the end of their lives.

But what does that mean “more control”? Does it mean that we should kill them? When people are suffering, that’s a reason to help them, not kill them.

Mr Bonython said a new bid by Greens MP Mark Parnell to pass the so called “right to die laws” had prompted him to reflect on the need for such legislation. Mr Parnell introduced the latest attempt to pass voluntary euthanasia laws in the South Australian upper house in November last year.

This Bill contradicts the purpose of government which is to defend and protect the lives of its citizens. Both euthanasia and assisted suicide contradict that fundamental purpose. The Greens bill adds confusion to the existing “Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care Act” by attempting to incorporate voluntary euthanasia provisions.

Upper House MP Dennis Hood has condemned the idea.

"Let's be clear, if this law passes what happens is we're making it legal for the first time to actively and deliberately kill human beings," he said. "This is something our society moved on from many, many years ago and to go back is a retrograde and cynical step by the Greens and they deserve to be condemned for it."

Some people see the so called "right to die" as a parallel to the right to life, but this is based on faulty reasoning. The right to life is based on life being a gift we can neither destroy nor discard, whereas the "right to die" is based on the idea that life is a thing we possess and may discard when it no longer meets our satisfaction.

Mr Parnell says polling shows that 80 per cent of South Australians support a person's so called “right to die” with dignity. This is hardly the right question to ask. Most people probably think you should have a dignified death.

Finally I would like to leave you with a quote from Wesley J Smith.

“Assisted suicide is a radical change in ethics that will prove, over the long run, impossible to meaningfully restrain once the basic premise becomes popularly accepted. And that is the argument we should be having. The very narrow debate in which we are now engaged to limiting assisted suicide to the terminally ill not only doesn't comport with the evidence of the consequences of assisted suicide consciousness, it is willful self delusion.”

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Euripides said...

If there ever was a slippery slope ideal, assisted suicide is one of them. Wesley Smith is absolutely correct. Once accepted, assisted suicide will be impossible to curtail.

Secular Heretic said...

I certainly agree with you there Euripides. There is a line there that we must never cross over. Although I think we crossed over it many years ago with abortion. With abortion it was only permitted in extreme circumstances then the laws slowly changed and permitted less extreme circumstances until now you can just make up a reason.

MD Views said...

This problem was recognized by Hippocrates and immortalized in the oath after his name. Prior to Hippocrates, medical doctors were more like witch doctors. They healed the body, but they also knew how to kill. You were never quite sure if your call to the doctor would result in healing or death. If your death meant more gain for the doctor, the doctor might just do you in.

One of the great leaps of Hippocrates that made the oath so sacred was the separation of healing and killing. The right to life. The promise, the oath, that if such a physician attended you in your illness, you knew you were safe. No monetary gain, family pressure, political pressure or social need would sway the physician from his life-saving task BECAUSE HE HAD TAKEN THE OATH! It wasn't a "code of ethics". It was an oath, the strongest and most solemn promise a human being could make.

Were that we could revive its meaning. I hope to try.

Secular Heretic said...

Iv'e heard about the oath but I didn't know the details of it. Thanks for the information MD Views.