A strange thing happened last night. After watching an episode of ‘Afterlife’ on a DVD my sister lent me, my daughter and I light-heartedly sat down at a Ouija board. How soon were we to be startled to have the following message spelled out to us in a rapid series of frantic moves:
‘I make an impassioned plea to the courts of my country and to the medical profession to listen to my dreadful plight. I was the recipient of euthanasia in the Low Countries of Europe, having come to this decision of my own free will, and requesting assistance from doctors to ease my passage. However, now that I am trapped in the after-life, I can see from this vantage point that the notion of free will is not all that simple. I can see now how I was far too much worried about becoming a burden on my family, and how cuts in health service resources had led me to a skewed view. I realise now that I did not have access to anything like the decent level of palliative care that others receive. I realise too, now that I can look more globally, that I was living in a society with a pretty wretched view of the elderly and the disabled. So that when I ‘freely’ made my decision, I was not fully appraised of all the facts, and neither was I entirely uninfluenced by the interests of others. In fact, even as I signed the form, I had some more questions to ask, but didn’t want to bother the nice doctors who are so busy these days. I also realise that, with hindsight, many of my problems were created by bad medical decisions in the first place, and were entirely avoidable.
‘I therefore make an urgent appeal to my doctors, just to please, let me live. I will if necessary take my case to the High Court.
‘Oh, hang on a second, I can’t can I, I’m dead.
‘I therefore will take a case to the European Court of Human Rights claiming discrimination against the dead, making the case that live people can make impassioned pleas for the legalisation of euthanasia, but dead people cannot make impassioned pleas against it.
‘Oh, hang on, maybe that won’t work either.
‘Let’s just say, can’t we make law and policy about euthanasia on the basis of reasoned discussion about all the impacts of policy and law on everyone who might be affected, rather than by highlighting individual tragic cases?
‘Hard cases make bad law.
Oh, and you guys down there might want to think twice about introducing a law in favour of euthanasia in a recession. Just a thought.’