Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Euthanasia Baby

Woolly Days saw a news report recently of a complaint about Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby’s treatment of the euthanasia issue.

In M$B the heroine boxer Hilary Swank is paralysed from the neck down after an incident in her title fight. She asks her trainer (Clint himself) to assist her to commit suicide.

He goes through much agonising and has a brave discussion with a local Catholic priest about his dilemma. The priest says to him ‘Do this thing and you will go so far within yourself, you’ll never come out.”

Despite this advice, he (Clint) eventually carries out his boxer’s wishes to end her suffering.

The complainant in the news report (an American right-to-lifer) says this outcome is an unfair treatment of euthanasia and that not everyone in hospital wants to put an end to themselves.

Furthermore, Eastwood was giving a misleading and dangerous impression with his film, he said.

Eastwood begged to differ. He said he was not necessarily in favour of euthanasia but merely telling a story.

And a damn fine story it is too. Not too soon either, as such a serious topic fully deserves prime screen time. An honest and open debate on the merits of mercy killing is well overdue. There are too many people in pain in so-called palliative care. These people have the right to die if they so freely choose. Society should not have the right to stop them or punish those, who usually in the interest of deep love, assist them in their escape.

It should be possible to frame legislation such that limited and life-threatening situations have a way out that does not involve long drawn-out painful deaths. We treat horses humanely, why do we treat humans like horses? Or why don’t we?

This is a left-over remnant of an ancient Catholic ethos that has served its day and ought to be given a mercy killing of its own. Of course, the Catholics and their fundamentalist allies will resist such change fiercely on ideological grounds. They do not care about the pain inflicted. The principle is more important. It is also a huge matter of power.

Another remnant of Biblical humanism that needs to be exposed.

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