Well this is a thorny topic but one that comes up frequently. I should begin by saying that the EOL Doula UK stance on assisted dying is that it is illegal in this country and as Doulas we can play no part in assisting someone to take their own life. I am not able to play any part in helping someone to arrange an assisted death.
I promise to share my own views honestly and openly. If they differ from yours then I fully respect that.
Personally I don’t believe that anyone should have to die in unbearable pain or suffering. Modern palliative medicine is fantastic at helping to manage symptoms in people at the end of life. I firmly believe that everyone should have access to the very best care in the later stages of their lives whether they have a terminal diagnosis or not.
I do struggle with the thought that for some, there may be a choice to be made to refuse treatment in order to end what they believe to be an unbearable situation. This may be choosing to refuse medical treatment such as antibiotics or ventilation or perhaps refusing to accept PEG feeding in the event they are no longer able to swallow. Tragically many people approaching the end of their lives choose suicide with all the associated emotional and practical issues that raises.
My own thoughts are that when someone gets to the stage they are prepared to suffer the consequences of making such a decision and waiting for the inevitable outcome, however long this takes to come, then there should be a choice that should be allowed to be made by the person in conjunction with their medical teams that their life can be ended painlessly at this point. If someone has the capacity to decide they would choose to die of starvation or suffocation then surely they have the capacity to decide they would like an injection to bring an early release.
Do I think that there should be a free for all and that anyone can end their life at any point? No. Do I think people should have to travel overseas for a dignified death before they actually feel ready to go? No. Do I think the decision should be able to be made by anyone other than the person and their medical teams? No. Do I think that as a race, if we can put people on the moon and split the atom, we can find a way of managing assisted dying in the UK? Absolutely yes.
Assisted dying is legal in certain countries and if you would like to read more about it then the following pages may be of assistance: