Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Life and Death

It has been one of those days when the issues of life and death have loomed large.

Having heard over breakfast that the commons had voted to keep the age of abortion at twenty four weeks, I found myself thinking about it at work this morning. I've always been pro choice, but with the issue thrust under my nose, so to speak, I found myself wondering about my views and how far I would take them.
Although there is new evidence that suggests a foetus is more developed at 24 weeks than has been previously supposed, I really don't think that before a baby
has been born and can survive without the aid of tubes and breathing instruments it can be thought of as having the essence of what we term human. This is not to say that premature babies should not be allowed to survive. They definitely should be. My point is that reducing the age limit does not solve the problem that pro life supporters highlight. Science will always find new ways to keep premature babies alive, for good or ill. As a friend pointed out, in any case, most terminations happen now before ten weeks, which is mainly because doctors are less obstructionist in their practice - there is less need felt to send the expectant mother to therapy before she makes up her mind, which therefore shortens the time she is pregnant before having an abortion.

The other matter was something I read later in the day. On the BBC website, I read an article about a girl my age (23) who carries a 'right to die' card. It was interesting to read in the comments that a Dr would refuse to recognise the card, and he had the right to do all he could to keep the patient alive. It struck me at the time as a difficult point, because how was this card in any way different from a do not resuscitate order? Thinking about it, I suppose a DNR order comes into practise only when a person has though 'if I've been in a car crash, and the doctors are fighting to keep my heart going and then I flat line, well then, I don't want to wake up'. Whereas the right to die card carries with it the connotations of long term illness, and being fully conscious of what will happen to you when the decision is taken.
In terms of my own life, I agree with the right to die card, because I know that in terms of me having children, I am too selfish of my own freedom to want to have the responsibility of a child in need of full time care. I wouldn't wish the burden of my full time care on my parents, or indeed anyone else. To me, it's simple - although I know that for others the lines may be greatly blurred and other issues are in play.

I realise that what I've said may well be controversial, and perhaps even offensive. Can I just say that they are simply my own views, and I would welcome a discussion with anyone whose views differ, slightly or in the extreme.

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