A Puzzling Objection

A 49-year old Australian quadriplegic who was on a ventilator and a feeding tube recently died shortly after winning his legal fight to refuse treatment and food. He said he was in constant pain, his life had become a living hell and he wanted the right to refuse food meaning not have the feeding tube planted in his stomach. The court finally agreed. Pro euthanasia groups cheered, but Right to Life ones said the patient should have been given psychiatric care instead. Wouldn’t that assume that wanting to be released from pain is a symptom of mental illness? To many, not wanting to endure more pain than necessary is rational. Holding on to life at any cost may reveal more about our ignorance about what life really is than our understanding. And then there’s the issue of imposing one’s belief on another, far from a spiritual act—all the more puzzling when spiritual values are the premise upon which the objections are made.