I’ve read just about every recently published essay on VAD

But Gemma Tognini’s is the finest: Assisted dying? Give me assisted living every time.
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5 Responses to I’ve read just about every recently published essay on VAD

  1. C.L. says:

    My father passed away in a bland, beige room on the eighth floor of Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth. In death, as in life, he was somewhat of a contrarian, defying the predictions of his palliative care team who told us that even in a coma, he had two to three days of life left in his lifeless body.

    Dad being Dad, tolerated just 16 hours of such nonsense, dying early on a Saturday morning as I lay in bed thinking about what time I’d head to the hospital.

    I’d left just before midnight, tag teaming with my brother, sister-in-law and mum. Will you be all right on your own, they asked? I remember being surprised at the question. I’m not alone, I told them. I’ve got Dad. I sat with his hand in mine, his steady, rhythmical breathing ­underscored by my intermittent weeping. It was precious time. ­Sacred, unhurried.

    The doctor encouraged me to go home that night and stay the next. So, I covered him in my shawl, kissed his forehead and told him I’d see him in the morning with a coffee and the papers.

    The memory of that 24 hours is still raw, two years on. Especially in the context of voluntary assisted dying legislation being debated in the NSW parliament. I wonder, do they really know what they’re asking for? My relationship with Dad was imperfect. Fractured at times, but ultimately redemptive – and I share that ­because my feelings on this issue aren’t romanticised by a perfect father-daughter narrative.

    He was difficult. Especially when on the grog.

    Dad was terminal. Given 18 months to live nearly a decade before he died. He lost a leg to diabetes and alcoholism yet lived on. Lazarus, we called him. The bloke just kept coming back.

    The burden of care and illness was terribly hard on our small family. Dad suffered untreatable nerve pain that kept him awake all night. He struggled to wash or go to the toilet on his own. His organs were engaged in a frantic race to the bottom. There was onset of dementia. He suffered a condition that in my exhausted moments I called acute proper f..ked.

    Yet never once did we think, time for the green needle old boy. It’s all too hard.

    Never once did we wish there were laws likes those being debated in NSW and are now in place in Victoria, Queensland and WA.

    I just cannot reconcile this cheapening of life. It’s got nothing to do with my faith, or some idea (not one I share) that to end one’s own life is a sin. Having watched life slip away, I cannot reconcile the cheapness these laws assign it.

    Some argue it’s about choice but I think it’s about our need for control over everything from ­cradle to grave. Pick a date to have your baby. Genetically engineer the sex of said baby. Pick a date to end your life.

    Are we honestly that afraid of our own mortality? Here’s a tip – controlling the exit doesn’t control the destination. We sanitise everything, reserve sanctity for nothing. We have a collective buck each way.

    If a pregnant woman is murdered, we mourn her life and that of her unborn child, yet we talk about terminating a foetus, not a baby. We rightly say no to the death penalty.

    My God, we’ve just locked up an entire nation for almost two years to protect the vulnerable and here we are entertaining laws that would leave the most vulnerable terribly exposed. Our moral hypocrisy is writ large.

    Advocates say the threat of hefty penalties for coercion is enough of a safety net, but how to prove it? And it’s not just about ill intent for potential gain.

    Like many, Dad fretted that he was a burden on us. We lied and said of course he wasn’t. One evening I was helping Mum get him changed. He was heavy with fluid and difficult to manoeuvre.

    He cracked gags as I yanked his shorts back up over his remaining leg and his bare behind, but in his eyes I saw a frail old man who knew that wasn’t really how it was supposed to be. It might sound strange but there was a gift in bearing that burden. One I’m still unwrapping.

    I think about when my brother and I were very little, and our mum spent months in hospital. Dad from memory was working two jobs, caring for us. Relying on friends. No doubt that was a burden. Highly stressful. Inconvenient. I bet he knew it wasn’t how the early years of fatherhood were supposed to be.

    How churlish to think life doesn’t go full circle?

    It’s a forked tongue that says life is dispensable in some circumstances and not others. I respect that the views of many who desire these laws are formed through suffering and loss, as are mine. I don’t have all the answers, but a good start would be to generously fund palliative care in Australia. Politicians have told me it’s expensive. Maybe, but I’d ask what price a life?

    In the Weekend Australian

  2. Muz says:

    “… there was a gift in bearing that burden.”
    Thanks, I wanted to read that yesterday.
    And on coercion, it seems wherever the laws are in place and the palliative care places are forced to keep some beds for VAD, then more beds, then they become uneconomic – seems intentional doesn’t it. Every time we lift another rock there’s more of this ghastly psychopathy. In the last two years we’ve learned so much about the medical profession.

  3. jupes says:

    I don’t have all the answers, but a good start would be to generously fund palliative care in Australia. Politicians have told me it’s expensive.

    With a straight face? As if cost has ever stopped them blowing our money on any number of wasteful projects.

  4. Lee says:

    My God, we’ve just locked up an entire nation for almost two years to protect the vulnerable and here we are entertaining laws that would leave the most vulnerable terribly exposed. Our moral hypocrisy is writ large.

    Where are all those insane people who were cowering in their houses or basements claiming that if you were opposed to shutting down businesses and society with lockdowns for months on end “you want to kill granny” on VAD now?

    Their silence on VAD shows emphatically that they never really cared about granny at all; “granny” was a just a cover to run protection for massive government overreach.

  5. a reader says:

    The same people who push euthenasia are often the same ones who push whales back into the water…for me that tells me all I need to know.

    As for Gemma Tognini, she is a great writer and a solid conservative voice. Sometimes she’s a bit too Paul Murray style for my liking but nobody is ideologically pure and I really rate her thinking

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