Saturday, 18 August 2012
Euthanasia and Tony Nicklinson
I've been following the story of 'Locked-in Syndrome' sufferer Tony Nicklinson since March of this year. A stroke during a business trip to Athens in 2005 left him paralysed from the neck down and as a result can only communicate via a computer that tracks eye movement. Tony has been campaigning for the right to die and I was genuinely saddened to hear this week that he had lost his High Court case.
Quantifying quality of life is very difficult, ultimately it comes down to each individual and how they perceive their own existence. Tony Nicklinson believes he has no quality of life and that his life is a living nightmare, I have to say I agree. Tony can't dress, feed or wash himself, he needs 24 hour care and can't communicate fast enough to participate in a simple conversation. Another daily issue Tony faces is that he's unable to scratch himself. It seems rather trivial but next time you have an itch try and see how long you can leave it without scratching, imagine seven years of that.
I'm aware that this case isn't about Tony committing suicide, it's about enabling a third party to under the eyes of the law commit murder. The argument that a ruling in Tony's favour would set a precedent for future cases giving too much power to doctor's is understandable. However if the system was regulated by the courts it would take the decision out of doctors hands.Tony is of completely sound mind and to condemn him to another 20 years of hell just to make a point about the value of life seems backward to me.
I'd be interested to hear your views on this whether for or against.
Tony Nicklinson died at approximately 10am on Wednesday the 22nd of August after refusing food and contracting pneumonia.
The law prohibited Tony receiving a lethal injection to end his life, instead he had to spend his last week in pain, coughing relentlessly, his body screaming out for nourishment and ultimately the sensation of his bronchial tubes filling with fluid. Abiding the law essentially increased the sensations of a crippled man's hell for fear of setting a precedent. Decide for yourself if that's right or wrong, it's not a difficult decision in my eyes.
I hope Tony's case will put euthanasia back in the spotlight and encourage parliament to consider change.