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Human Rights

David Goodall has reignited the euthanasia question: will there ever be an easy answer?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 3:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 3:33pm

I refer to the renowned Australian scientist who chose to be euthanised in Switzerland (“David Goodall just turned 104 and his birthday wish is to die”, May 2). Goodall said his quality of life had worsened significantly and he was happy to “have the chance to end it”.

Euthanasia is assisted suicide to relieve pain and suffering – some countries allow it but most do not, and debate still rages over whether it should be legalised or banned. 

First comes the right to die of a mentally competent, terminally ill person. Those for legalising euthanasia insist that it is the right of such a person to avoid excruciating pain and embrace a timely and dignified death.

Opponents, however, point to the possibility of abuse of such a right, especially when it comes to socially vulnerable groups, and say assisted suicide is akin to legalised murder. Also, they raise questions about the likely denial of palliative care and hospice facilities. Religion also teaches that life is precious, and the taking of a life, even your own, is one of the ultimate sins against god. 

I believe the desire of a mortally ill person to die with dignity bears consideration. A person who is bedridden, and at the mercy of others for simple everyday tasks like eating, using the restroom, changing and bathing, can find life very degrading. They may not want to be a burden or be remembered in this way. Giving them the opportunity to choose when and how they die lets them take control of their own life and is empowering.

There is no easy answer to whether euthanasia should be universally accepted. But I believe that there must be one in the future.

Benson Wong, Tseung Kwan O