Obligation to discuss subject

I THANK Annemarie Field for her column on euthanasia in the Herald of February 25. It was good to read a dissenting opinion, and know the Herald does not support popular prejudice in this case.

Like her I was saddened to read venues where Dr Philip Nitschke might have enlightened us on this subject were closed to him.

Modern medicine and technology can be used to keep people alive for periods of time which would never have been possible in the past, and which are neither kind nor purposeful.

While this can be a blessing under many circumstances, it is not always so. The difficulty lies in making the judgement between the two cases.

If doctors work under an oath which obliges them to make no judgements about the quality of life, but only to prolong it, they clearly cannot be expected to shorten their patients’ lives deliberately.

Likewise the law is of no help if we are trying to revise or consider the wisdom of the law.

Nor is the Christian position necessarily helpful in stressing life is a gift from God. If life, then why not death? And if death can be a gift too, why can we prolong life, but never hasten death?

Of course there are dangers in allowing people to end their own lives prematurely, or in allowing others to end them. Great dangers perhaps.

But that is surely a reason for us to think about these problems, not to make judgements without hearing different viewpoints.

The reality of medical technology is these difficulties are not going to lessen, however appealing the ostrich’s attitude may seem.

We need to think how to welcome death as well as how to live good lives. There are no easy answers, but surely we have an obligation to think about them?

Jonathan Chiswell Jones

Hankham Road

Stone Cross