Monday, 29 August 2011

Assisted dying debate - what does it mean for sharing life in all its fullness?

I've been reflecting on this story about assisted suicide.

It has been well said that modern society knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.

Perhaps one of the most distressing aspects of the way our society has developed recently is the way in which we deal with those who are coming towards the end of their lives. Where in the past Granny having a bed in the living room might have been a common scenario, now we seem much less able (or willing?) to care for those who cared for us, to hold the hands that held ours.

Of course, there are many reasons for this: dislocated and busy families, people living longer, the provision of supported housing which allows older people the choice of living independently. However, sometimes I think that society feels that, if a person is not contributing financially, they are of little value to our community- indeed, they are seen as a burden.

Perhaps nowhere is this more starkly portrayed than in the debate around assisted dying. while I recognise that those who advocate assisted dying are seeking a way to respond to suffering, I cannot accept that legislating in this way adequately takes into account the effects of such provision on our society as a whole. Nor does it affirm other responses to suffering or the experiences of many who struggle for fullness of life through the limitations of a range of debilitating illness and disability. Without a comprehensive approach to the end of life, and a full exploration of our interdependence with one another, I continue to represent the Church's current opposition to such a change in the law

We need to learn again to value what really matters.

1 comment:

  1. Why not, therefore, campaign for "a comprehensive approach to the end of life, and a full exploration of our interdependence with one another"? The law at present is barely adequate to the situation, where, in the normal run of things, many people other than ourselves will be making decisions about the practicalities, and even timing of our dying.
    The big stick of a prison sentence for assisting a death is sometimes waved around by those who lack sensitive understanding of the issues surrounding a particular case, even when the matter of assisted dying is even under discussion.
    The history of the Church (big big C) includes, at its best a concern to help us towards a 'good death' i.e. in dignity, surrounded by the prayers of our loved ones.
    Have you seen URC Scotland's Church & Society paper on this issue, which does dare to put a different point of view?
    I hope your comments attract further attention, Ian.


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