Wednesday, September 19, 2012

End of Life Choice

   My PSA has begun to creep up for the third time since prostate cancer was diagnosed over a decade ago. The medications are becoming less effective and I have been “doing the math”…So, though I can hope for some time yet, I have thinking again about the ultimate outcome.

   In pastoral ministry I saw many people and their loved ones going through terrible “end of life” experiences. These days there are really helpful opportunities to prepare for a “good end” (e.g. "Thinking Ahead") and more medical techniques in palliative care and sedation. I am conscientiously doing some of the former and when my time comes I hope to receive the best of the latter.
   Last week, for the first time in this country, someone who pleaded “Guilty” to assisting another to die, was actually discharged without conviction. In the context of Maryan Street’s “End of Life Choice” bill recently submitted for the Parliamentary ballot, this judgment has raised the stakes on the issue.
   Some of my Christian friends who would retain the “sanctity of life” doctrine at all costs presumably also subscribe to St Paul’s “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. The inconsistency puzzles me; how can you be so committed to life that you aren't in a hurry to pick up the bonus points?
   I don’t share their theology, nor their rejection of the possibility of choosing a dignified end. I’d like to think I’ll be ready when the grim reaper rolls up. But I hope also, that by then, our country will be a little more relaxed in permitting me and others around me to have some part in the timing and nature of that sacred moment.
   I'm not into gambling, but I will watch the Parliamentary ballot with interest!

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