Friday, February 10, 2012

'I love you, Mum'

People who want to see euthanasia legalised say it would only be for people who were terminally ill and there would be no such thing as a "slippery slope" leading to ever more categories of people who qualified.

It isn't true, of course. The Netherlands, where euthanasia was legalised in 2001, permitted it originally only for people who were terminally ill, in irrelievable pain, after repeated requests, and with the consent of two doctors. Now Dutch parliamentarians are discussing allowing it for any and no reason, including just being "tired of living." Not only doctors, but psychiatrists are reported to be euthanising patients.

Once euthanasia were legalised, there would be pressure to end the lives of the old, the infirm and the disabled. Vulnerable people would have their lives put at risk. Caring, not killing, needs to be the aim.

Consider the story of Simon Ellis. Simon was in a car crash in 1992, when he was just 18. He suffered two skull fractures, he suffered brain damage and he lost the use of his arms and legs. Doctors said he would never speak again.

Nineteen years later - over the recent Christmas holiday - Simon, now 37, told his mother "I love you." Then he spoke the names of a brother and a sister. Now, says his mum, "Every day we come in to see him someone comes up to us and says he has said something new. He really is getting there and it is amazing to see."

Simon is cared for in a Sue Ryder care home. Said Laura Gill, manager of the home: "We are absolutely thrilled with the progress Simon is making and we hope his speech continues to improve. It's fantastic to see him so happy, full of life and able to share his wonderful sense of humour."