I remember sitting in a theater watching The Sea Inside and being filled with emotion. The script is based on the true story of artist and poet Ramon Sampedro who broke his neck in a diving accident off the coast of Galicia, Spain, and became a quadriplegic. For 30 years he sought the right to die with dignity, seeking the assistance of his physician and friends. But assisted suicide is forbidden in Spain, and his accomplices would have been subject to criminal prosecution. One particularly comedic scene involves a paralyzed Catholic priest who visits Ramon to engage him in a philosophical discussion on why he should give up thoughts of suicide and live until God takes him. I highly recommend this movie. It will make you laugh and cry and think deeply of how you’d like to be treated if something similar were to happen to you.
I know that talk about pallative care, assisted suicide (or euthanasia) is a very delicate subject and there is no way I can conveniently cover it in the brief blog posts that I’m in the habit of creating, but recently there has been some talk making its way through the internet tubes and because I have such strong feelings about it myself, I feel compelled to at least bring it up and provide the references if not commentary. There is a review here from the blog Voloka Conspiracy that discusses the leading contemporary ethical arguments for assisted suicide and euthanasia. These are complex legal arguments that will make your head spin so I’ll toss in a pop culture op-ed piece from the tech trenches just to bring the debate down a notch. And then, because I never expect to change anyone’s mind about these types of closely held beliefs I’ll include a list of references that cover both sides, everything from “death mid-wifery” to a number of societies who provide news and information to their members.