I’ve always been a staunch activist for assisted suicide. I believed aggressively that assisted suicide should be available to pretty much anyone who is of sound mind to choose it.
This article made me question some of those things.
I wondered, for example, if my grandmother, who I think would have chosen assisted suicide, would have been “of sound mind” by the time she got to the point that she desired that option.
I wonder if I could ever choose that option and be of sound mind.
I remember when I was 16 and my grandmother was dying, she couldn’t remember who her children or grandchildren were, and she was in excruciating pain. I said to my sister that if I ever got like that I would hope someone would kill me.
I wonder, now, if I had known how my body would feel at age 24, if I would have wanted someone to kill me now. Right now I don’t want to die, despite the pain I’m in on a constant basis. Despite the neurological and psychological difficulties I face on a daily basis. But if I could have requested suicide in advance, would I have, knowing my current situation in advance?
Another question that plagues me, is what would have happened if I was so disabled and I was not in as supportive of a family. Would I be more likely to choose assisted suicide, or worse, be seen as a burden by a less-supportive family or system and coerced into suicide? These are things I never considered when I first made my pro-assisted suicide stance.
I believe, for example, that my grandmother should have been able to make the choice whether or not to receive assisted suicide. However she had Alzheimer’s, and I don’t know if she would have been considered of sound mind, and whether she should have been. I don’t believe my family capable of coercing her into such a thing, but how are medical professionals supposed to determine that?
I wish I knew more about how medical professionals determine whether someone is being coerced into a treatment, as this is a venue in which I feel under-educated. It may very well be that there are not a lot of stop-gaps in place to avoid coercion, but if so, then this is a much wider problem than just assisted suicide. How does one determine if a person is being given or, alternatively, refusing life-saving treatment due to the will of an influential family member? These are issues I have never considered and I grow increasingly worried about as my own health deteriorates and as I become more concerned with disability issues.