Living – and dying – with dignity

 

Sir, – In relation to the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020, I read with interest some of the contributors (Letters, March 16th). Alan Tuffery states that the Bill is about “offering us compassionate relief of suffering at the end of life”, while Noel Byrne’s refers to the Bill being about those who have made a free, informed choice regarding their “final days”. Justin McKenna concludes that “compassionate care at end of life should include choice”.

In October 2018, I was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. According to this Bill, I fit the criterion for availing of assisted suicide as I have “an incurable and progressive illness”.

If this Bill had been made law by October 2018, I would have been entitled to end my life with assistance two weeks after my diagnosis.

However, by March 2021, I find myself still very much alive! So, this Bill doesn’t seem to be about ending your life at the end of your life after all.

Because of my MND, I find myself in the “qualifying persons” group. Someone has decided that having an incurable and progressive illness might mean that I will find my remaining days (however long they may be) to be so unbearable that I will want to end my life prematurely.

They’re right – I might! But, as it turns out, I don’t. And I imagine there are many others in this category who feel the same.

Having a choice to opt in or out of assisted suicide may seem straightforward, but it isn’t.

Living with a terminal illness is hard enough. Having to also deal with the message this Bill is sending me – basically, that my life is not worth that of other people who are encouraged to live no matter how great their difficulties are – is making my terminal illness even harder to cope with. 

So, yes, I’m all for compassion at the end of life. And I’m for compassion while living life. But, please think again about how that compassion can be offered to the likes of me.

We already have the means to die with dignity through our hospice care and the support of loved ones.

It would be reassuring to also receive that support from the State. – Yours, etc,  

KATHLEEN ROGERS,

Rathcoole,

Co Dublin.