There is much emotive propaganda against assisted dying and I want to expose here just exactly what the objections really are and the reasons for them.
We have seen recently various individuals talking on television on both sides of the debate. The opposition lobby seem, though, to be much more forceful and appear to have no scruples about the way they represent their argument. Terry Pratchett`s Dimbleby Lecture was incisive, well considered and persuasive, though when up against the thrust of our opponents, I feel the imperatives must be represented with equal strength, even if necessary statements are difficult to deliver.
I find myself wondering why the argument against assisted dying should be more ruthless than the argument for it? I have a sense that with a gathering momentum of public opinion supporting the plight of the terminally ill, the opponents feel considerable threat to their position and react as viciously as possible. After all, they are not only defending their point of view, but their egos and their unconscious guilt.
In this dynamic between the two sides, there is also an element of " parent- child" in the posture of one camp to the other. I have noticed in the last months how those against assisted dying assume the role of "parent" whilst those in favour of the argument are rendered "child" and I think that this reflects the power imbalance of the terminally ill against the healthy (we`ll come back to this in my next blog on this subject).
If you have been following my blogs thus far, you will know that I have discussed the compartmental conscience as a servant of guilt avoidance. I believe that those against assisted dying are in fact deploying their compartmental conscience both to defend themselves personally from guilt and against societies collective guilt in regard to the terminally ill. This guilt arises both because of the guilt associated with the inability to cure the terminally ill and restore their lives, but also because of the very driving argument that disallows the patient the right to determine their own lives.
It is indeed immoral to deprive the terminally ill of rights that are available to the rest of us .... and guilt is incurred serially for societies insistence upon treating weakened people like children who are incompetent to make their own decisions.
Guilt builds upon guilt, though, and personal and societal guilt at not being able to reverse terminal illness leads to disrespect. Somehow, depriving the dying of the right to choose how and when to die is a way of gaining control in a situation where individuals and society have no control at all. This small gain of control palliates the guilt people feel when confronted with the issues of dying. Unfortunately, it is a stance that serves the carer, doctor or health professional against the interests of the patient, whilst masquerading as true concern for the patient.The fittest "animal" dominates the weakest.
How many times have we heard recently that assisted dying must not be allowed because people may wish to die out of a misguided sense that it would make life easier for their friends and families? This is a ruse indeed. What is actually happening here is that the guilt that health professionals feel in regard to the terminally ill, is assuaged a little by being in control of their patient ..in deciding that they cannot choose when to die; their compartmental conscience then kicks in to legitimise that control by persuading everyone that they are not depriving patients of rights, but protecting them. It is, sadly, a reverse of the truth. "Caring for people" as a disguise for not being able to care about them, is not only a sad state of affairs but truly selfish. Undoubtedly, this quasi-caring that we hear repeatedly in the media, does make those health professionals feel better, but this should not be the focus of their attempts at reason!
When we present our argument for the autonomy of the terminally ill and our basis for the ultimate compassion of assisted dying, we need to have an awareness for the lack of psychological awareness displayed by it`s opponents. For, although they are subject to their own inadequacies, and fight their cause based upon them, they think they are motivated by caring, just as parents feel that they need to decide things for their children in order to care for them. We, generally, tend to want to use what we think is our better judgement when we deal with children, and we instinctively see the same situation with adults who face the end of their lives and parallel the vulnerability of children. The crucial thing here, though, is that we are talking about adults and, demonstrably, treating adults like children is not acceptable whatever our own inadequacies may be.
With me so far? I am going to return to this topic very soon.