Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stop lecturing us on our own constitution

On 13 April, I reported on the cancellation of the lecture on euthanasia, which was to have been delivered at Cork University Hospital (Ireland). The well known speaker, Professor Len Doyal, whose lecture promoting euthanasia was sponsored, chiefly, by the Health Service Executive (HSE) for the Cork region, was not to be stopped, however, in his euthanasia-promotion agenda – he subsequently succeeded in having a lengthy article on the subject published in the Irish Times.

In the course of the article he asks:
‘Why allow any vulnerable patient to suffer a slow death when a quick and painless one could easily be provided were non-voluntary euthanasia to be legalised? … Remember that when a decision is made either not to provide or to withdraw life-sustaining treatment, there has already been a prior judgment that the patient’s life is no longer worth living…. In circumstances where the palliative relief of suffering may be unachievable or unavailable, the intent to administer a quick and painless death should be seen as a more morally worthy goal.’

This is where we get to the dishonest core of the euthanasia argument, the idea of palliative relief being "unachievable or unavailable". It is the mark of a civilised society that the most vulnerable are cared for - and in this case this includes the sick and the dying. Where palliative care is unavailable, the focus of any humane campaign must be to make it available, not to promote killing as an alternative.

Incidentally, Professor Doyal is reported as having written a letter to the President of Ireland, Mrs. McAleese, complaining about the fact that he was prevented from speaking in Cork, and alleging that he was in danger from a ‘potentially violent mob’ who interspersed their chants with ‘loud recitations of the Rosary’! Perhaps Professor Doyal felt genuinely terrified by a group of people praying or perhaps he is just hyping the situation to portray himself as a martyr. Apparently, in his letter, Professor Doyal speaks of 'the blatant abuse of a Constitution that so many fought and died for'. We Irish are perfectly aware of our own heritage and our country's long struggle for liberty. We do not need to be lectured about the value of our own Constitution, which (he appears to forget) affords protection to vulnerable human beings which Professor Doyal would like to remove.

The fact that three-quarters of those who attended the lecture were protesting against it should give euthanasia advocates pause for thought.