If you want to know more about the debate on assisted suicide and euthanasia, book now for SPUC's conference, 5 - 7 September, Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire. Dr Colin Harte will speak on "Suffering for what we value: the legacy of Alison Davis". Paul Tully will speak on "Learning the lessons from the Liverpool Care Pathway". There will also be a workshop on "Assisted Dying - how to convince people you don't want it".
Many nurses would refuse to abide by the assisted suicide lawComments on this blog? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
SIR – Max Wind-Cowie (July 25) rightly provides an unequivocal challenge to the reasonable approach to understand and even accommodate the views of those in favour of assisted suicide (a more honest term for the currently entitled “Assisted Dying” of the Falconer Bill). Such an attitude, he correctly suggests, can appear as if the vital argument is already lost. Repetition of the long held prohibition “thou shall not kill” is vital in resisting the perennial and dangerous calls for a change in British law. Jesus said “let your yes be yes and your no be no”.
Medicine and nursing in the 21st Century ever seeks to increase the percentage of patients achieving a pain-free existence in the terminal phase of illness. Patients with end stage disease are a constant challenge to the vocational skills of their caring team, whose culture is vital to inspire confidence in vulnerable patients. In my professional experience, patients look to their carers to affirm their lives, not offer them death as a defeatist, cheap and easy option.
No one, of any age or degree of illness, is granted a pain-free existence. To suffer is part of the human condition. We see practical love operating frequently in times of natural disaster, to make bearable the suffering of those having experienced loss, trauma, persecution, injustice or bereavement, in other words, in all forms of suffering, whether mental or physical. What makes suffering bearable is the constant, invaluable support by family and friends, and of course, the carers in their loving concern, support, and practical care for pain, wounds and misery.
No one should be unaware that rather than pain, “fear of being a burden: underlies many people’s request for assisted suicide, where it is legally-sanctioned. What an incredibly sad premise for this proposed law.
The worst pain, then, experienced by dying people is the fear of abandonment by their carers. Do we now compound this fear by offering the abolishment of the burden of suffering together with patients’ lives in the increasing numbers now seen in other European countries?
Nurses will be the ones expected to fulfil the requirements of this Bill. I know many of religious conviction and none, who will refuse to implement any such law. Such a stand would, no doubt, lead to their persecution for a so-called lack of “compassion”.
Yours faithfully, TERESA LYNCH RGN, MSc
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