Goals and morals of Final Exit program leave bad taste in public’s mouth

The Southerner

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By LeJoi Lane

When I first heard about the Final Exit Network, my mind began that inevitable totter we humans experience when presented with the complex questions of life.

The Final Exit Network is an organization dedicated to helping people ensure their right to choose life or death. The organization guides people through ending their own lives through various methods that aren’t explicitly stated on their website. The Final Exit Network performs assisted suicide with guiding principles. The principles include that the person must “suffer from a fatal or irreversible illness or intractable pain” and “they judge that their quality of life is unacceptable to them or they judge that their future is hopeless,” according to the website.

The logic of the organization’s ideas I can comprehend. If you only have so much time left to live, why would you choose to spend it in pain when you have the option to put an end to it all? The organization’s morals are the things I can’t quite grasp. Society has spent millions of dollars and countless years telling us that suicide is not the answer.

I can’t definitively plant myself on one side or the other in deciding if assisted suicide is right, and it irks me. I determined the only way to truly know where I stood was to put myself in the shoes of someone on both sides of the debate. I immediately thought of my uncle. He was a brilliant, fun and extremely lively man until he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He went from a six-foot-tall wine connoisseur and world traveler to a mute, static man barely, my height in a wheelchair. When I would go visit him I would kiss his check softly and whisper him a sweet greeting. His eyes would blink rapidly in response, and I wondered if he was trapped inside his own body, forced to watch the ones he loved through pain-clouded eyes. I admired him beyond words. I pondered if I were him, would I be strong enough to survive that? I can hardly go a few hours without talking or interacting somehow with the world around me how would I be able to forfeit these things for years upon years?

Then I had to switch my perceptive to that of my aunt, who stood by his side through it all. She fed him, changed his clothes and provided all the things he couldn’t provide to keep himself alive. I watched as she diligently and without grievance loved him from the time he was the head of the household until long after the slumping form he became. I observed closely to see if there was ever a time when she wanted to ease his passage and end his suffering early. I never saw it. Every day she showered him with more love than the last. I could see in her eyes that she would never think to help him end his life because she could never imagine her life without him. I admired her beyond words. Would I be able to endure life with the person I love not knowing if they were in pain or not. Would I be able to see them miss out on life?

Even after thinking it all through, I was left confounded. There was no clear-cut decision to be made. My strength in my faith refused to allow me to believe that it is okay to help someone take his or her own life. My strength in my reason refused to allow me to believe that a person doesn’t have the right to end his or her own pain. I commend The Final Exit Network for believing and defending a cause and a freedom reserved for people. If the Final Exit Network though, were to ask for my approval unfortunately they would be met with a deadly silence.

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