Certainly, if one can be sure of anything, it is that life comes with an expiry date. Whether we may think or not about the fact that life and death always come together, all of us are aware that, sooner or later, we are going to die. Obviously, this is out of the top ten matters to discuss with friends when meeting for tea, unless you are a little bit Goth, or like Iker Jiménez, without judging anyone for this. As for me, I fully admit to being scared to death of dying (pun intended), but even worse, what about suffering before death comes knocking? If there are cases where suffering could be avoided, should we deny people their right to die in dignity?
Although it is undisputed that all effort made is never enough for life support, there are, unfortunately, situations where death is but a place of rest. Since all human beings must die eventually, in our sorrow, we may find some relief by knowing there is no pain and no more suffering. This is the quandary of moral and ethical issues the Spanish Parliament brought into focus last December 17th when, by a vote of 189 to 154, the Congress of Deputies approved a bill allowing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the country.
After decades of social debate, the countdown has started. The ball is now in the country’s Senate’s court which is responsible for passing the law after its publication in the Official State Bulletin (BOE). Following this ratification, by June 2021, terminal patients in Spain will be allowed to request aid from the healthcare system to end their lives with dignity. With this law in force, no more people will be prosecuted for assisting the suicide of a terminally ill person. These patients will have the right to have their own decisions respected, provided that they are still in full use of their mental faculties.
As I see it, the right to die with dignity should prevail over any other kind of human freedom. On no account should we do anything others decide for us if we are already dead in life. Once we have been fully informed about a terminal condition, palliative care and any other alternative available should still be our choice. We all deserve to write our own ending to the story.
María Magdalena López Navarro