Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Only humans should suffer..."

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I want to call your attention to an article called "Only Humans Should Suffer: The End-of-Life Double Standard" by Mary Shaw. Shaw tells us of the race horse, Barbaro, who was euthanized after suffering from a leg injury that could not be healed and then makes this point:

With his Kentucky Derby win, Barbaro became no less a Philly sports hero than Eagle Donovan McNabb. But there's one big difference: If a football player (or your uncle Joe) were to suffer a terminal injury that left him dying a slow death in constant excruciating pain that even modern medicine could not control, he would just have to suffer.

As of this writing, Oregon is the only state in the U.S. that allows physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients in pain who want to die with dignity on their own terms. Efforts to pass similar legislation in other states have failed, due in no small part to challenges by those who confuse a "culture of life" with a culture of forced suffering.
In addition to Oregon, physician-assisted suicide is currently legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland. Everywhere else, the terminally ill are forced to endure sometimes horrific pain at the end of life, or end their misery with a plastic bag, a noose, or some other undignified means. And those sad, desperate acts will continue as long as so-called "pro-life" factions keep fighting attempts to widen the acceptance of physician-assisted suicide and provide more people with the power to choose a comfortable death over a horrible, lingering, painful one.

What it boils down to is this: While life is precious and should not be thrown away lightly, modern medical science cannot yet provide adequate pain control in all dying patients, even in the best hospices.
So why do we treat our dying animals with more mercy than we give our dying people?

Why, indeed? I do not want my animals to suffer at the end of their lives and I will do the right thing by them when their time comes. But who will put me out of my misery when my time comes? A caring, compassionate society will provide for physician assisted suicide. But our society is rigid, judgmental and punitive.

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