Theology of the Body Thursday #28: Crowdfunding an Assisted Suicide

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Last weekend, an article was published in the UK about a mother who was using crowdfunding to afford the trip to Switzerland for an assisted suicide.

Euthanasia is currently still illegal in the UK. Her daughters attempted to arrange a fundraiser for their mom, but an anti-euthanasia group brought it to the attention of the police and the police shut the fundraiser down. So the family turned to the internet. Due to the publicity given the case by the legal troubles, money came pouring in.

The woman seeking assisted suicide is suffering from a genetic disorder called motor neurone disease. It will gradually take away her ability to move, speak, swallow and breathe. She watched this disease kill her own mother and she doesn’t want go through it herself. She is probably well aware of how much of a “burden” she will be to her daughters. As one of her daughters said, “”It’s not fair to see her slowly deteriorate – for us or for her.”

This leads to the point of this post: The dying need compassion, not murder.

The NHS website about the disorder hits it on the head:

Living with motor neurone disease is extremely challenging and often a terrifying possibility before the diagnosis is made. However, it’s not necessarily as bleak as people imagine.

 

With strong community and specialist support, many people can maintain some independence for a significant part of the condition’s course, and experience a quality of life they may not have imagined was possible at the time of their diagnosis.

 

The end of life for someone with motor neurone disease isn’t usually distressing and is most often in their own home. In most cases, a person with the condition will die in their sleep as the end stage of gradual weakness in their breathing muscles. Although some people with the condition will have swallowing problems, they won’t choke to death.

She and her daughters look at her diseased body and they see a “burden” not a person. No one should look at themselves or other people with that mindset.

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As for the people donating to this cause, I have to agree with the National Review columnist who said they were cooperating with evil. However, I need to be more charitable and recognize that they just want this family to no longer suffer, but they are helping in an unhelpful way. Like a doctor I read about recently, we all need to look into their case, figure out what’s really wrong and alleviate that, not kill the person.

I find some irony here. We are social creatures. We need community. But instead of people rallying around this woman to help her, they are rallying around her to help her die. We are dependent upon one another and often caring for someone does not mean giving them what they want, but what they need.

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