Please read the note at the end of this post before commenting. This is NOT a thread for euthanasia-law debate.
I’ve been trying and trying for many days to write about the Christian Rossiter “right to die” case, and I just haven’t managed more than an incoherent wargle. A chat with rb has convinced me that that’s better than nothing, so here it is.
If you haven’t been following along, that’s probably because all of this has been happening in Western Australia. Christian Rossiter is a forty-something year old bloke who used to climb rocks and cycle and do all sorts of physically active stuff. He now has a high spinal injury, and can no longer do those things.
So what have we, as a society, done for him? Set him up with communication devices such as a internet-enabled computer he can operate (he has talked about not being able to turn the pages of a newspaper)? Offered him opportunities for social inclusion, to the fullest extent that he can manage it? Equipped his home and supplied home nursing care so that he could live in his community and retain his social context? Provided any sort of life enrichment whatsoever?
No. We shoved him in a nursing room, in front of a television set. Oh, but it’s cable, so that’s alright, eh? We did all we could!
Now he wants to die. He’s been fighting for his right to refuse nutrition, because he can’t handle being shoved in a bed in a nursing home with nothing but Foxtel for company. Today, he won that right.
Everyone’s talking about this being a “good outcome”, a “win”. Apart from the folks who say that it’s not that great, because hey, we should be knocking him off quicker. They’re all talking about how obviously they would choose euthanasia too, if they couldn’t walk or eat or blow their nose. Because such a life could never be worth living. Because such a person is valueless.
All I can come up with is gurgles of rage and horror.
I have not yet seen ONE PERSON question his treatment, question the way we as a society have failed him – NOT in our lack of provision of a way to quickly bow out, but in our COMPLETE failure to support him in finding out whether maybe, just maybe his life could be worth living.
And I am PISSED. And sad. And horrified.
Now, perhaps if all of that equipment and opportunity and support had been offered, he might still decide to die. And that should be his right.
Or maybe he wouldn’t have made that decision.
Why haven’t we so much as given him a chance?
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[Note, if you hadn't figured this out already: I am going to moderate the fuck out of this thread. If all you have to talk about is whether or not advance directives or euthanasia should be legalised, go do it somewhere else. If you can't figure out that this is not what this post is about, read it again till you do.
There's no shortage of places to talk about the right to die, pro and con. There's a critical shortage of places talking about the right to have a life.]