Aug 142009

It’s claimed that Christian Rossiter could take weeks to die and while I’m fit, healthy and ambulatory in a way Rossiter never will be again, I can’t help but wonder just what pain will need to be assuaged as he nears death.

The ruling today by the WA Chief Justice, Wayne Martin, is a logical one and as he stated, nothing at all to do with the right to life or death, or a statement on euthanasia. It’s a ruling on one man’s right to refuse intervention which is keeping him alive, when he has no desire to prolong that intervention.

In a great many ways, it’s a landmark ruling for this country and the society we exist within. So many taboos exist surrounding death, and society on the whole fears any ethos which rejects the prolongation of life under adverse and even undesirable circumstances. This ruling is surely a step forward for all libertarians possessed of the right to choose. A right which is not codified and that can so easily be denied, as in Rossiter’s case, because the nursing home where he is resident fears legal repercussions were they to adhere to his requests to stop force feeding. Could they be accused of murder, manslaughter, assisted suicide? Judge Martin thinks not, and so that fear is nullified, with Rossiter deemed to be of sound mind and required only to be fully appraised of the repercussions of his choice, and provide the necessary legal disclaimer. It’s legally alright for a human being to die of starvation, of their own volition, as long as no-one else can be seen to be liable in the eyes of the law. All rather stupid, really.

Our lives are clearly not our own, neither is our destiny. We’re bound up by the society in which we live, that frowns upon us if we choose to live differently to the norm and won’t allow us to die as and when we choose. There are far, far better ways for Chris Rossiter to achieve his ends than simply starving to death. That is barbaric, but it appears our society is barbaric enough to allow a law court to say it’s okay for a man to starve if he so desires. That’s civilisation, people. That’s progress.

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