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Health Journalist of the Year: Winner

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My life, my death and my choice

Parvathy Nair, Hartland International School, Dubai

In the year 2014, my aunt was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, shared by 340 million
people around the world. This was an incurable condition that affected the nerves and brain.
Imagine losing your ability to speak in full sentences. One day you wake up and the – words –
slowly – fade… That is what happened to my aunt. She went from being able to talk in full
sentences, to losing her speech and having to write down anything she wanted to say. After
months passed, everything began to worsen, she was only able to move her eyes to
communicate. Her friends and family were forced to see her suffer right before their eyes,
and it was simply depressing. She went through three years of agony before painfully passing

However, it was an entirely different case for Geoff Whaley, who was also diagnosed with
motor neurone disease. Whaley decided to end his life in a clinic in Switzerland, to not have
to endure the final stages of this sickening disease. Through the help of euthanasia, Whaley
was able to relieve the suffering. If euthanasia were to be legalized globally, it could excuse
890 million people from the final enervating stages of terminal illness. It is a luxury my aunt
did not have.

The Oxford Dictionary defines euthanasia as “the painless killing of a patient suffering from
an incurable and painful disease.” Yet, the process currently falls under the category of
suicide for most countries and has often been associated with words such as manslaughter
and murder. Additionally, leading countries such as the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland
have placed euthanasia under the branch of the Suicide Act of 1961, which makes it illegal to
encourage or support ending a life, no matter how desperate the cause. Moreover, according
to the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK, those found guilty of the offence could face
up to 14 years’ imprisonment. Euthanasia is perceived in a very narrow-minded way, as
people simply do not understand the persistent suffering associated with life limiting
illnesses. It is only human to not want to put up with the suffering anymore and retreat to
rational solutions such as euthanasia.

Furthermore, over 56% of doctors in today’s world strongly disagree with the intentional act
of ending a life. This belief largely stems from the Hippocratic Oath taken by most physicians.
This oath is one of the most widely known of Greek medical texts and suggests, doctors must
uphold a set of ethical requirements based off gratitude, compassion, humbleness and
integrity. Although preservation of life is a crucial role in a doctor’s life, I strongly believe
keeping suffering patients alive is more harmful than offering an alternative such as
euthanasia. Sometimes a disease can eat and eat at someone making it feel endless. A
doctor’s job is to assist and care for their patients and by supporting euthanasia they would
be allowing the terminally ill to die with dignity. We must learn to decriminalize euthanasia as
it offers relief no other medication would to the terminally ill. Afterall, it is my life, my death,
and my choice.

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