Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tony Nicklinson

UPDATE: Within 48 hours of this writing, Mr. Nicklinson died of starvation after refusing to eat and contracting pneumonia. Rest in peace.

High Court rules that man must prolong his suffering rather than dying with dignity

It's not often that I get into politics on here. Actually, this might be one of the first times that I've written about sociopolitical issues on here. Regardless, when I saw the above post in my Google Reader feed the other day, I couldn't help but think about it. In time, I decided I'd write about it.

To paraphrase, for those who didn't read the link, an Englishman named Tony Nicklinson had a stroke in 2005, and was paralyzed from the neck down. He can't communicate via any means other than blinking, and wanted to have doctors end his life, rather than suffering, trapped in his body.

As that link above's title shows, the High Court said no. Quoting the Friendly Atheist article, "if doctors let him die before it's 'his time', they will be prosecuted".

This situation makes me think of a serious topic that I haven't really given thought to in a long time: euthanasia/assisted suicide/assisted dying, or whatever else you want to call it. A decade ago, when I was a religious teenager struggling to reconcile my faith's views on things with my own views, I was against euthanasia, for much the same reason that I would presume the High Court was -- sanctity of life, and everyone having a "time to die", all that crap. I considered it part of my belief system, even though I wasn't strongly against it; I said I was for religious reasons, but felt deep sympathies for those who truly were suffering.

Now that I've become aware of Nicklinson's sad story, it's given me pause to think on my stance these days. I'm not sure when it happened, but some time between now and a decade ago, my mind was changed. Maybe it's because I've dropped the religion, or maybe it's because I just feel too sympathetic for those like Nicklinson, who are doomed to die in long, drawn-out suffering, in a prison of a body. All that I do know is that I'm for assisted dying when the alternative is months, years, or even decades of the person's own personal hell-on-earth.

Thanks for putting up with a serious detour, and I hope it made sense, because it did in my head. I'll see you guys on Friday, right? :)


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