Dignity and choice…

Christmas and New Year out of the way and those on the margins once again get consigned to the list of social “problems”…for which the rest of society demands there must be a solution…

And so it is that the day job inevitably throws up (for me at least) one of the great contradictions in the way in which our society permits people to make decisions about how to end their own life.

On the one hand I, (and I suspect many others) hold that it is not unreasonable that those suffering from incurable diseases need to be able to choose without penalty the help which they are at the moment denied. The elderly need to be able to plan ahead clearly, and to make their own choices about when their lives are no longer worth living. This is the central tenet of the organisation Dignity In Dying‘.  As Margaret Drabble recently said so eloquently… “my husband, Michael Holroyd,  fondly believes that as the longest serving patron of the Dignity in Dying campaigning organisation, he will be allowed to die in peace, but no, the doctors, in mortal fear of parliament, the law, the press and the General Medical Council, will be slavishly working to rule and obeying orders and striving officiously to keep him alive as they observe their archaic Hippocratic oath”. 

Meanwhile, even after more than 25 years of working in the drug and alcohol field, the ease with which the health and social care system allows people with long histories of substance misuse to be discharged from hospital in the absence of any significant support mechanism in place still troubles me. In the vast majority of cases these people are deemed to have the capacity to make an informed decision, despite the fact that their return home is almost inevitably going to lead to them acting in a way which may well result in death…

Irony is not yet dead though…

Killer Turning... John Callaway 2011

Killer Turning… John Callaway 2011


2 responses to “Dignity and choice…

  • allotment04

    Yes and no. On the one hand why should society make rules and break them as it sees fit, playing the moral master and on the other who’s e to say what’s right and wrong? Individual choice if there is such a thing is becoming narrower and narrower and we’re tricked into thinking at we have choices. Those “marginalised” by society have made their choices, difficult as they may have been. Situations can’t always be fixed and we need to learn when to walk away. Our conscience doesn’t always want us to and moral boundaries restrict our perceived freedom of choice.

  • johnnyc1959

    Don’t disagree with anything that you say Pat.

    I just think that the way in which we/society permit certain behaviours is sometimes incongruous and inconsistent….with those who are perhaps seen as less ‘deserving’ being given more rope to hang themselves so to speak, (or conversely less ropes to prevent them falling off the cliff).

    Some situations remain ‘unfixable’ for sure, but that shouldn’t stop us from continuing to ask the questions…

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