I firmly believe that the request of the terminally ill should be extended to the elderly who suffer from unspeakable physical and mental ailments, typical of their age. Abortion has been legalized in most countries and yet the will to end one’s life is not allowed when the person considers that it has become unbearable, when his body and intellect mercilessly accuse the passage of time, without to be able to find future perspectives to continue with the hardest part of the human pilgrimage. Although there are those who claim that abortion is immoral because it involves murdering a being who did not give his will to do so, euthanasia (etymologically “good or happy to die”) in adults would be limited only to those who, with their conscience in full functioning, they would give their consent for it, either presently or prior to their loss of self-control. There would be no eventual harm to third parties. Of course, it is discounted that it should be regulated by laws that ensure the autonomy of individual decision, ruling out external pressures and / or curable depressions. It would seem a proposal for a dystopian future to which the Neftlix series have accustomed us but, sharpening the focus, I consider that the perspective of assisted suicide would greatly mitigate our physical and mental burdens, being that loneliness, abandonment, illness, decrepitude and loss of bodily and mental self-sufficiency are the fears that most often afflict us when we still have power over ourselves. That is to say, we suffer twice: in the present when we are heading towards that uncertain future and when the latter is embodied and we are no longer masters of our body or our mind. It is time to put aside the hypocrisy, euphemisms and idealizations with which we usually refer to old age and the suffering that it entails in its later stage. Some discordant voices will say that suicide, in any case, must be carried out by the same person; and precisely this position shows a total lack of solidarity and compassion towards the suffering person. We live in a society that condemns euthanasia and we know that successfully committing suicide is not an easy or affordable undertaking for most people, least of all the elderly. In other words, the bereaved must be brave to bear the guilt that society transfers to him and, at the same time, find a method of safe compliance. Why, if we do not harbor religious beliefs that presume to give meaning to the suffering of irreversible decrepitude, should we go through it and resign ourselves to coping with it, without any meaning for us? Life has surely taken charge of imposing on us the sufferings “due or not.” In Switzerland there is an organization called “Exit” that assists elderly people who choose assisted suicide or euthanasia. In the Netherlands a “whole lives” bill has been introduced. I fully advocate this way of ending life. Can we be compassionate towards animals and not towards human beings? I believe that it would be an essential human right achieved and a great relief for those of us who travel the final stretch. Let us think that many desperate elderly people, instead of making a drastic decision with unforeseeable consequences, could plan their death and do it peacefully from the pious hands of human solidarity, and even surrounded by the support of their loved ones. Let’s encourage ourselves to change our paradigms. Let’s fight for a dignified life and death, instead of adding suffering without absolute foundations. It is a debate that, stripped of prejudices and beliefs, we owe ourselves as much as possible. “Life is an inalienable right but not an inexcusable duty.”
Ana Lia Toledo
San Miguel de Tucumán
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