Right. Let’s get down to it. With some help from Polly Toynbee.
But here the usefulness of faith ends, for it is mainly the power of the religious lobby that forces people to die in pain and indignity due to beliefs on the nature of life and death shared by very few. For 20 years now, every poll on the subject shows that 80% of people want the right to be helped to die at a time and in a way of their own choosing. But that kind of “choice” is not on the agenda.
And furthermore, even if the beliefs were shared by very many, even if they were indeed universal, they would still be both wrong (in the sense of inaccurate) and disgusting. (Which is the same problem that always comes up in discussions of for instance ‘honour’ killing and the like. I heard an example on the BBC World Service the other day, talking about the murder of Hatin Surucu in Berlin recently: the reporter said that clerics are telling the people in their mosques that ‘honour’ killing is not in the Koran. Well, clearly that’s one useful precaution under the circumstances, but the fact remains that even if it were in the Koran it would still be disgusting, contemptible, reprehensible. That the question to ask about a social practice that does obvious, radical, extreme harm to some people is not ‘Is it condoned or recommended or mandated in the Holy Book?’ but ‘Is it a good or acceptable or justifiable practice? Is it a cruel savage domineering controlling practice with no shred of justification?’) They would no doubt be much, much harder to get rid of; indeed they would probably be impossible to get rid of, if they were universal; but they would still be bad and wrong.
What kills you in the end if you have cancer or other terminal diseases? Not often the cancer itself. Nor the morphine that people innocently imagine will one day waft them away on a cloudy pillow of dreams to some opium-fuelled nirvana. What people actually die of, like Terri Schiavo, is dehydration when they can no longer swallow enough water to live – and it takes time. Enough morphine to die quickly is very rarely administered these days. Instead, cautious doctors, extra wary after Harold Shipman, give just enough morphine to kill people by degrees. It is enough, in the very end, to render them unable to drink so they die, semi-conscious, of thirst. Hospices don’t put up drips to keep people alive, but they don’t give out death-dealing injections either. The legal compromise is death by dehydration or sometimes slowly and gasping for breath by morphine-induced chest infection – “old man’s friend”. That is the great unspoken truth.
There. That’s nice, isn’t it. Something to look forward to. Read it all. Read about morphine-induced constipation and hallucinations.
Good though palliative care can be – my mother had the NHS at its very best – its own practitioners admit they often watch people die in great mental and physical anguish. People clutch at doctors’ sleeves, begging for an injection: “Can’t you do something?” How easy it is to slip into death-like unconsciousness under an anaesthetic, gone into oblivion before you can count to five. That little death in the operating anteroom is a paradigm for how the good death could be for those who want it.
Let’s hope the law is changed in the UK. And here – though it obviously won’t be any time soon, with these unspeakable bastards imposing their ‘culture of life’ on the rest of us even though we don’t want it. Because of their sick pathetic delusional beliefs.
As the Pope rasps out his last breaths, his bishops are using his final suffering as a testament to the religious requirement to endure whatever quality of life God sends. Both C of E and Catholic archbishops here will fight any attempt to change the law. Politicians have taken their cue from the churches.
The religious requirement to endure whatever quality of life God sends – what complete raving nonsense! If there is a requirement to ‘endure’ then doctors and medicine are illegitimate, right? Or, if the requirement to ‘endure’ somehow means the requirement to endure both illness and what medicine and doctors are able to do about it, then why does it rule out medical decisions that it’s time to put out the light? Because religion is a diseased imposition on human life, that’s why. What requirement? What kind of God is this that wants people to suffer as much as possible at the end of their lives? What is the matter with archbishops that they believe this kind of crap and impose it on everyone else? Serial killers and torturers go to prison (and in the US are executed) for causing that kind of suffering, but archbishops are respected for it.
Do archbishops live outside? Do they shiver in the cold and get wet in the rain? Do they blunder about in the dark, bumping into things? Do they eat all their food raw? Do they abjure clothes, books, transportation, medicine? If they have a headache do they not take aspirin? If you prick them do they not apply a band-aid? What is this hypocritical incoherent inconsistent sadistic mindless drivel about ‘what God sends’?
Go, archbishops, and sin no more.