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Mel Does Words: Euthanasia

Dignity in death or immoral waste of life?

A week ago my dogs, Jessie and Summer, were put down due to old age and a multitude of things, I was so upset that we could end the lives of some of the best friends I’ve ever had. We had gone to see the Vet and had the options discussed and whilst my dogs were happy, they were living day to day and their quality of life was only diminishing daily. Dad made the tough call and my beautiful dogs were put to sleep together, their usual Vet coming in specially for them, to say goodbye. They were surrounded by people who loved and cared about them and they were with each other to the very end.

In the end the family felt that we had done the right thing, making sure that these creatures we loved so dearly had lead a life full of quality and would not have to bear the slow decay of time. It was and is comforting, even now as I write this and feel overwhelmingly sad, I know I feel sad for me, not for them, because they’re no longer in pain.

This past week though, my brain has been ticking away at the idea of euthanasia and why it is such an accepted thing for us to euthanise our pets, but not people. I thought about posting some of my thoughts here, then wondered whether it should just be a mental ramble about what I think on the situation?

I took myself to Google to make sure that I wasn’t going to say anything stupid, to make sure that I was educating myself as much as possible on the matter, and what do you know: they’re talking about it in Victoria right now. In fact it was a hot topic during the NSW election earlier this year, one that a large portion of voters supported the idea,according to Vote Compass 72% of voters strongly supporting voluntary Euthanasia. Notably in the Northern Territory a law was passed in 1995. The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act legalised assisted suicide for 2 years, during that time 4 people utilised the provisions of that law. There was also uproar in Australia, so much so that the Federal Government rendered the law obsolete due to pressure from people all across the country. Now 20 years later, people are viewing it differently.

So I’m thinking that we need to talk about this, because we are giving out pets a courtesy that we don’t give our fellow man. It’s also a courtesy we want to give to our fellow man.

My dog Summer had multitudes of tumours and lumps growing all over her body, some of them malignant, we were unable to operate on her to remove them, her rear leg muscles were starting to waste away. The humane decision was made to let her go peacefully and while she was still happy. We voluntarily chose to end a creature’s life without their consent because it was more humane. If Summer had been a human and had looked at this situation medically with the advice of her doctor, been told that they couldn’t operate on the large lumps that were forming on her body, that her legs would only grow worse and she decides that if its only going to grow worse, if it’s only going to cause me pain and there is no hope for recovery then maybe I should die on my own terms. Our laws say no, this can not and will not happen.

I feel that is wrong.

I do feel the need to say that I believe that all options must be discussed in this matter, that there needs to be serious checks and balances in place to help avoid people throwing away their lives needlessly. That families can’t just decide arbitrarily that it’s too expensive, turn off the machines. Counselling needs to be supplied, medical opinions need to be taken into account, a patient’s mental health needs to be considered.

If we’re going to have Euthanasia legalised, there’s going to be a lot of legwork and legislation that needs to be done so that we have a fair and humane system in place that can not be easily be taken advantage of.

Isn’t it worth it though?

Isn’t it worth the tough decisions and hard work constructing these laws to ensure that people don’t end up shoved away in palliative care, wasting away in their beds, in large amounts of pain and before the end of their lives having no idea what’s going on? These people who don’t get visited by their families because it’s hard to see someone you love so much dying slowly and painfully, knowing that they want to die?

It appears that the tides are turning and people are looking at Euthanasia in a different light. I truly believe that it is important for us to have serious discussion about this. It will be hard and emotional, but what important decision isn’t? We are talking about life, death and quality of life, if it wasn’t hard to talk about then you don’t care about it.

Most importantly is that we need to think of Euthanasia as going hand in hand with consent. No patient, no matter how desperate their situation, should be forced to die if they want to keep on living. No one should be afraid of going to their doctor thinking that they could be Euthanised without out their consent (though consent is a concept our society seems to be having trouble understanding, but that’s another whole kettle of fish.)

Think on this though: We afford our pets a more humane death then people who are terminally ill and in constant pain and we do it without their consent.

I am Mel, I have done words that were hard to write. I have deleted, rewritten and edited. I stand by what I say here, but afford those who disagree with me respect, so if you disagree with me, please have respect, be courteous and understanding and I will do the same with you.

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