An opinion article in this newspaper last month caught my attention: What is human life worth? Is it life devoid of pain and suffering?
Authored by lawyer Ann Ngigi, the intro to the article titled, “Think euthanasia for terminally ill patients”, said it all. It spoke of the “enormous resources (spent) often with little or no measurable benefit for the dying”, and all because of our reluctance “to talk openly about the prospect of death or about our preferences about end-of-life care”.
With due regard to the writer’s opinion and her right to freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya, Chapter Four, Article 2(d)(ii) offers exceptions. It cross-references Article 27(4), which proscribes direct or indirect discrimination of people for various reasons.
The proscribed grounds for discrimination include “race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status (my emphasis), ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.”
Euthanasia advocates employ persuasive language to push their agenda forward. The language is replete with platitudes such as “human dignity” and “freedom of choice”, which the terminally ill should be accorded.
Truth be told, the desire for euthanasia — defined as “the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma”— only happens when the terminally ill feel abandoned. It is curious that the euthanasia opinion comes hot on the heels of a DN2 article, which pitched for putting systems in place to support caregivers of chronically ill patients.
Paradoxically, no one chooses to be born and hence, no one should entertain the death wish.
The euthanasia mentality is, indeed, an extension of the suicidal trend that has hit our society, with young people forming the majority of Kenyans seeking to end their lives. For whatever reason, they feel hopeless and helpless. Instead of giving them ropes to hang themselves, we should restore their hope.
As regards euthanasia, the sense of hopelessness and helplessness does not always emanate from the chronically or terminally ill. Either because they are over-sensitive to their minders’ attitudes towards them, or, indeed, that the caretakers are neglecting them, they long to die. What this means is that both the terminally ill and their minders need strong psychosocial and economic support systems to ameliorate their pain, boost their self-esteem, and to know that someone loves them.
Seeking euthanasia or granting it to a loved one is just one way of promoting suicide or homicide.
It signals a society that has lost it to the extent that the sick are made to feel useless. It signals a society that so self-centred that it has no time for its vulnerable members, hence instilling the death wish in the sick and dying.
Should our legislators be swayed by calls to legalise euthanasia, it will signal the end of the Kenyan society as we have always known it, a caring society that supports life from conception (Article 26:1-2), and which the abortion lobby that is backed by euthanasia lobbyists are fighting had to scrap.
Both ideologies are driven by an anti-life, comfort-seeking ethos that devalues pain and suffering, equating it to nuisance, even when most Kenyans profess Christianity, whose essence is suffering signified by the cross of Jesus Christ.
Ms Kweyu is a consulting revise editor with the Daily Nation. [email protected]