DiversityNZ logo

Posted by Philip Patston on 19 February 2010, 7:08 am in , , ,

Choice to die vs right to live polarised

The revelation that BBC presenter Ray Gosling killed his lover who was in the final stages of AIDS 20 years ago has ignited claims by disability activists that the British media is promoting mercy killing.

In her blog, Disabled People Fight Back, Clair Lewis warns:

"...the British media are determined, in the main, to promote the acceptability of killing sick and disabled people. The Independent has been the only newspaper with anything like balance in it's comment. Mostly, killers have been lauded as heroes and victims. Ray Gosling is the latest example in a busy month of it and my fingers are getting sore from complaining."

I think it's important to avoid polarising this argument. While I totally concur with the anti-eugenic sentiments and concern over the media "pushing" euthanasia, I don't condemn it.

As a staunchly active disabled person I value equally my right to live and my right to choose to end my life in the case of acute, palliative suffering. Gosling claims he made "a pact with his lover to help him die if his suffering increased."

Please let's not deny one right with the promotion of another. This is a complex issue that requires two seemingly contradictory values to sit in the same room side by side.

Uncomfortable as it may be, we need to approach this issue case-by-case and with love, not fear.