|Go your own way.|
Last week I responded to a link posted on Facebook, to an article weighing in on the euthanasia debate. I shouldn't have done it. It was insensitive to have commented - the poster was a family member of the article's author, and that author is very ill, speaking of palliative care from a place of experience, so talk of death is a delicate matter. But I didn't want to discuss the author's choice to fight for his own life. I respect that choice entirely. I wanted to discuss his argument, which was firmly against legalising euthanasia, and therefore against allowing others to make a choice that does not parallel his own. Even though I regret being boorish enough to vocally disagree with the article, I probably never could have stopped myself. Maybe it's because the writer used his own condition as leverage for his side.
The questions surrounding abortion and euthanasia are similar in many ways. With abortion, we're talking about the right of a woman to decide on the course of her own life after the moment of conception. Should she wish not to become a mother, or not to have more children than she can handle, or not to bring a child into an unstable family, or not to bear the child of her ex-lover or her rapist... is no reason a relevant reason to terminate?
With euthanasia, we're asking whether a terminally-ill person has the right to control the timing and circumstances of his own death. Should life always be preserved, even when the person living it would prefer to forfeit such suffering as they endure? Should quality of life be forsaken for quantity?
Dear reader, you will know my positions on both issues. I believe in choice. I believe in the ability of people to make the right choices for themselves. And I do not believe in the right of other "moral authorities" to make choices for us about our lives.
It makes me unbelievably angry when I hear people arguing to refuse others the right to make choices about their own lives. This is why I couldn't keep my mouth shut. A sick man arguing against euthanasia is, in terms of argumentative weight, the same as a pregnant woman arguing against abortion. It's hard - and rude - to say so but ultimately his own experience does not transfer to anyone else's. I'm probably pushing it now, but in my experience, it seems that some of the most active opponents of the right to choose are people who (a) already have a bias toward the anti-choice view, and (b) have experienced circumstances in which they were afforded/denied that choice. Like "I'm pro-life: I'm a mother"; or "I'm infertile and I hate the idea that other people can get pregnant and abort if they choose to". This is beside the point. One person's choice should not dictate the lot. As though allowing the legalisation of euthanasia will mean all sick people will be pressured to shuffle off quickly. As though allowing abortion to remain legal will mean all pregnant women will feel they ought to terminate.
Why is it that conservative and religious debaters seem to believe nobody can be trusted to make the right decisions for themselves? Why is it that they believe that the different choices made in other people's lives will somehow cheapen and damage their own? Do they really have so little faith in humanity?