The front page of today’s Age newspaper in Melbourne features what I personally found to be a rather disturbing story about an elderly woman, Beverley Broadbent, who chose to take her own life. She did so not because of terminal illness or suffering, but merely because she felt as though she’d had a good life and did not wish to deteriorate as she aged. I am certainly not an advocate of a state which dictates excessively to its citizens; I believe we ought to pay our taxes and follow the law, and largely be left alone unless we seek the assistance of the state. But a line must be drawn somewhere in terms of what is and isn’t legal when it comes to choices about one’s own life. Assisted dying, whatever you think of it in general, when provided for those with whom there is nothing wrong, is way over that line. In my view, Ms Broadbent’s decision was a self-indulgent and selfish act. The article makes no reference to her family, but one must presume they were quite aggrieved by it. The state should most definitely not condone or legalise this.
Those who advocate the practice, such as those quoted in the article portray this as a dignified act. But where do we draw the line? Would euthanising the severely disabled be seen as giving them ‘dignity’? What about the impact on doctors- surely they should view themselves as promoters rather than enders of life. Fundamentally, the most disturbing aspect of Ms Broadbent’s death is that rather than being a dignified act, it merely serves to devalue human life.