I mentioned the other day that, even though I am useless when it comes to knowing what's going on in the news, I do occasionally come across a story that I become obsessed with. It's happened again.
After I got back my holidays, my attention was caught by a headline on the internet, and then after reading the story linked to it, I started to devour all I could about it. It made me cry a bit, but I've not been able to stop thinking of it since. It's one of those cases where nothing is black and white, it's all grey areas - in my view anyway. But all I can't even imagine how I would feel if I was in the situation.
Read here to see what I'm talking about. Or try putting the term "Daniel James" into the news section of google.
I never really gave the whole idea of euthanasia much thought, to be perfectly honest. It crops up in the news every once in a while, I know. And I'm sure we covered it once or twice back at school. But it's always something I associated with the elderly or the terminally ill.
I didn't realise it was possible to go to a clinic and actually be assisted with the process of killing oneself. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this. In some ways, I think it's good that people have somewhere to go if they feel their only option is to die - if, for example, they are suffering from a degenerative disease and will ultimately lose their quality of life. But it scares me too and I'm not sure why.
Daniel James has come under some criticism for deciding that his life was no longer worth living now that he was paralysed from the chest down. In among the sympathy for his parents and for his own situation, there have been implications that he took the cowardly way out. That so many people have suffered similar injuries to him and have carried on all the same.
But everyone is different. We can't really put ourselves in his position, we can't know what we ourselves would do in his situation. Whether we could soldier on bravely through it, or whether all we would want is to end it.
If he had committed suicide, on his own, there would not have been this sort of outcry, this public interest. And the boy DID try ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS to commit suicide. But apparently the nature of his paralysis meant the only way he would have been able to do it himself was by starving himself to death. To him, going to this clinic in Switzerland seemed like his only option.
I'm not defending his actions, I don't necessarily agree with what he did. But he must have been desperate to go to this extreme. And it's done now. Hopefully he has found peace.
Should his parents be prosecuted for going along with their son's wishes? I don't think so. Once again, it's one of those things where you can't possibly know what you would do yourself unless put in that situation. They loved their son. They knew he wanted to die. They didn't want him to suffer, they wanted to protect him. It's them I think I feel the most sorry for. Because no parent wants to outlive their child, but I believe wholeheartedly they did what they did out of love. I'm sure that they have suffered more than enough already and my heart goes out to them.
But like I said, it's all a bit of a grey area. For example, I personally don't believe in abortion - not to do with my Catholic upbringing, there's a lot of stuff I don't agree with there. It's my own PERSONAL belief. I don't force it on people because while I myself couldn't do it, I understand that some people may feel it's their only option. But I want to put it in this context - why is it legal for someone to decide to get rid of an unborn kid, a living foetus that is already growing but doesn't have a say in whether it lives or dies . . . while someone who CHOOSES to die, someone in full control of their mind, who knows what they want and has thought it through - isn't allowed to make that decision??? Just a thought.
What do YOU think? Should someone have the right to choose to die if they want to?