03 February 2010

My life, my death, my choice



Although I won't weigh-in too forcefully on the debate on assisted death, I enjoyed reading Terry Pratchett's comments yesterday in the Guardian (an extract from Monday's Richard Dimbleby Lecture) about his own possible future assisted death. As you may know he is suffering from posterior cortical atrophy (a rare form of Alzheimer's disease). When the specialist told him this, Pratchett says "I quite genuinely saw him outlined in a rectangle of flaming red lines". I am quite clear that Pratchett has every right to make an educated decision about how he ends his life. He says "it must be allowed as a result of careful consideration". He continues; "my life, my death, my choice".


This seems perfectly fair to me. It does seem rather disgusting, however, that only now that a famous and well-spoken person speaks out about this disease that there is any kind of real debate at all. Previously we have had some moving documentaries on the subject (for example 'Right To Die' by Canadian director John Zaritsky), but I fear that in the State of Great Britain all we can really expect is a reality TV show revealing the boats of geriatrics soon to be shipped out to Martin Amis' 'medal and martini' booths - there's bound to be a bit of money to be made out of it. Hence the following ditty:



The magic of the failing brain is
hallucinatory; you see things, or
indeed you don't (but you won't
remember that, we'll do it for you.)
Cameras in position: black is not a happy
colour - yet rather face that magic
until it swallows itself in a dark hole of
monolithic storm then pass the test.
Right? Right. Good man. More or less.
Lights! (too bright? That's the Alzheimer's
pixillating your eye-pins, or something)
Can we give him more eye-liner?
You can be sure a screaming starlet is
yanked out of the ether of the
fizzed-out Terry P who looks at the
teapot and it is not here
but he knows there, in some battling
space jumping with atoms, is tea in front of he.
See? Death sums up, rattling:
"Clogged with rheum and the decision
of death! Catchy. Pass me a microphone
and we'll make a reality series. I'll
wear high-waisted trousers with my cowl."
Death, they name is Simon, and it's
clearly uncouth to start making
merry with a hatchet; let's film the slow
and shaming unravelling instead -
once you go with one they'll all catch it.


The State on Death - AFG



For the other side of the argument, read Dr Crippen's piece here.

The Assisted-Suicide blog is here.



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