GOODBYE DEAR FRIEND!
It is with sadness that we learned today of the death of our friend Alison Davis. Alison worked long and hard to promote the dignity of every human life and stood steadfastly against euthanasia and assisted suicide. Following is her article from the HLA Imposed Death publication:
Not Dead Yet: Support to Live, Not to Die
I have spina bifida, hydrocephalus, emphysema, osteoporosis, arthritis and kypho-scoliosis. I use a wheelchair full time.
Due to the osteoporosis, my spine is slowly collapsing, trapping nerves in the process. This causes extreme spinal pain which even large doses of morphine cannot fully control. When the pain is at its worst I cannot think, speak or move. It can go on for hours. The prognosis is that it will continue to get worse.
Twenty-three years ago, due to several factors, I decided I wanted to die-a settled wish that lasted over ten years. I seriously attempted suicide several times and was saved only because friends found me in time and got me taken to the hospital, where I was resuscitated against my will.
Then I was extremely angry that my life had been saved.
Now I’m eternally grateful. I still have the same severe pain I had then. What has changed is my outlook on life. If “assisted dying” had been legal, I wouldn’t be here now. I would have missed the best years of my life.
What I wish most for those who despair of life is that they could have the sort of support and the reasons for hope which turned my life around, bringing me from the brink of death to an appreciation and enjoyment of life.
Sometimes it’s said that those who request death are just exercising their “right to choose.” The problem is that often they feel they really “have no choice” because support mechanisms are not in place. And, of course, they are not just “choosing” for themselves.
To say that death is in the best interests of some suffering people is to make value judgments about all who are disabled or terminally ill and suggests that death is a legitimate way of dealing with suffering. We can do better for suffering people than killing them. Legalizing medical killing would weigh against the further development of social and palliative care services to help us to live.
Once it is established that it is acceptable to cause death as a way of “preventing suffering,” no sick or disabled person will be safe. It is instructive that when a non-disabled person expresses a wish to die, every effort is made to save his or her life. We have government strategies against suicide and “suicide prevention teams” to try to save the lives of those who want to die. Yet, when sick or disabled people express the same wish, possibly for much the same reason as those who are not physically affected, they are often assumed to be “right to want to die” and “better off dead.”
What we really need is the same presumption in favor of life as is routinely given to the non-disabled, and the same help and support to live with dignity until we die naturally. Further reading: www.spuc.org.uk/about/no-less-human/alison.
By Alison Davis, National Coordinator of No Less Human, UK www.spuc.org.uk/about/no-less-human
[Human Life Alliance, 3 Dec 2013]