Death is an unknown and that makes it easy to fear it. Although it is a natural part of the cycle of life, western culture tends to ignore it and treat it as an unfamiliar phenomenon requiring dark rituals. That approach contrasts starkly with the advanced technology we play with every day and the deep and broad understanding we have of how the universe works. Keeping people alive is a noble aspiration, but nowadays space age technology pushes the bounds of natural behaviour keeping bodies alive when the brain is dead, or the brain alive when the body is dead. And enough people find themselves in such pain living, whether physical or emotional pain, that they seek death. While that choice might be morally and naturally defensible, the law in most countries makes suicide illegal. But in some countries a choice is there and that choice is slowly becoming more available and better informed. It is certainly wrong to kill people or allow them to die against their will, but there are occasions when the choice should be available. That is the loudest and strongest message from those who wish to choose – that their right to choose is immorally withheld.
It is wrong to criminalise people seeking euthanasia for the right reason and criminalising those that assist. I cry with respect at the sight of a Tibetan student or monk self-immolating because to live as a slave under repression is worse than death. The problem is the oppression not the suicide.
The problem is the restriction on choice and opportunity, not with the person who chooses death over painful or unhappy life.
Belgium is in the throes of discussing legalisation of euthanasia for infants and children – a particularly difficult subject since an argument can be made that they are not in a position to choose. But even that is not clearly evident.
That is why laws are changing.
I hope that if I ever want to choose, I can.
Here are some resources on euthanasia: