Tomorrow, May 23rd, the Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill introduced on May 2nd by Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, will be debated in the NSW Parliament. Ms Faehrmann’s Bill is similar to the Death with Dignity Act which has seen physician assisted dying operate safely and successfully in Oregon since 1997.
Chrys Stevenson, speaker, blogger and advocate for voluntary euthanasia, has written this piece on the extraordinary infiltration of Faehrmann’s private briefing on the Bill by Sydney GP, Catholic and committed anti-euthanasia campaigner, Dr Catherine Lennon.
Dr Lennon also has history with the RU486 controversy, in which she referred to the drug as “human pesticide.”
To find out how Lennon managed this gatecrash, and just how extreme her views are, do read Stevenson’s excellent unpacking of the bizarre events, and find out who is Lennon’s political relative by marriage.
What Stevenson importantly demonstrates is the lengths to which the religious right will go in order to impose their fundamentalist ambitions on the entire community. This is something we probably all need to be aware of, if we aren’t already.
The religious right’s impudent meddling in the most intimate and private of human affairs, from decisions about reproduction and contraception, sexual morality throughout life, and then death, never ceases to offend me. I have a terminal illness which has been in remission for some time now. I have, more than once, been very close to death. What I fear is not dying, but being forced to live in circumstances that are intolerable to me. Nobody else can decide what those circumstances are. Surely no other person has more right than I do to determine the hour of my death, if I am in a position to do that, let alone religious fanatics who are complete strangers to me in every possible way.
We need more conversations in our society about dying, and how we can prepare ourselves for that inevitability. This piece in the Canberra Times by journalist Jenna Price is a start, although I do question the notion of a “good death,” which can place unrealistic demands on the dying and their loved ones. There are many reasons why a death can’t be “good”, depending on one’s interpretation of that word.
In the meantime, it seems to me that the enemies of any kind of chosen “good death” are the zealous religious right, who apparently feel their god prefers to watch us suffer than to mercifully die. This makes no sense to me. If in dying we go to god, as they would have it, why aren’t we all throwing ourselves off the cliffs like lemmings, the sooner to attain the promised better life with god in the sweet hereafter?