One hears all too often the "I'd put my pet out of its misery" comparison propounded by the pro-euthanasia lobby, as an example of compassion. In fact, as Dame Tanni points out, it's all too likely to be the reverse, an example of objectification. Our dog, Jess, whom we like very much, is in her sixteenth year now. Reflecting on our decision to have her put down, whenever we'll choose to make it, I reckon it will based on factors such as her becoming incontinent and incurring increasing vets' bills and probably ceasing to give us pleasure. Those are all issues to do with us and our feelings and convenience and wallets. The dog has become an object - which, to be blunt, is the relation nearly every pet has towards its owner. Human beings are different.
|Dame Tanni in her racing days|
Human beings are not merely animals or machines. They are subjects, not objects.
"So why not allow them to choose the time of their death?" I've been asked. "Why not let them say, 'I've had enough. I want to end it all'?" I hear that question, but the professor's comparison and the paralympian's answer provide part of the answer: it opens the way to the reduction of life to something we own rather than something of which we are a part. It pushes the door ajar for others putting pressure on us to euthanise ourselves, when we get messy to care for, expensive to treat, and not good company. When that becomes the way we think about ourselves then we have lost sight of the fact the life is our greatest gift, "from life's first cry to death's final breath".
(Do read Dame Tanni's article in which she also writes about Lord Falconer's approaching House of Lords' bill, his latest attempt to legalise assisted suicide, and if you have a tame peer you might write to her or him to say what you think of it.)