Nancy Crick's Death Not in Vain

Article excerpt

APPENDIX G

Nancy Crick was not dying. She was not terminally ill, she did not have cancer, she was almost twice the body weight stated on her web site and gaining. And she did not die. She committed suicide, which avoids dying, avoids reading the final chapter of the human story for fear of what it might hold.

That fear is the key to understanding the "right to die" movement; it is the "afraid to die" movement. It is the "life has no meaning" movement.

In Search for Meaning, broadcaster Caroline Jones accompanies a friend through her process of dying. "The disfigurement of her illness was pitiful; it would have shocked no-one if she had asked for death," she says. "But patiently she lived through her last days, until one evening, calmly, she took her last breath.

"It was a moment of heightened significance, almost excitement, certainly sacred. The sense was of a rite of passage safely traversed."

What a pitiful contrast to Mrs. Crick's suicide on May 22. Alone even in company, since no-one can look suicide in the eye. A moment of debased insignificance, except in the minds of Euthanasia Society activists triumphing ghoulishly over their media coup.

Yet Nancy Crick has not died in vain. She has exposed her doctor, Philip Nitschke, as cynical enough to do whatever it takes to manipulate public opinion. And, more significantly, she flushed out an admission of his true philosophical agenda-death on demand-with his assertion that it didn't matter whether she had cancer or not. You don't need cancer, you don't need to be dying or even suffering pain, you only have to desire death.

Another pro-euthanasia doctor reluctantly admitted to me that even a healthy teenager who persistently asked for assisted suicide, after full medical assessment, had that right to assistance.

Now at least the public better understands the package they are buying from Nitschke if they support the alleged right to death on demand.The second good thing to come from the Crick debate is the opportunity to reflect on the laws prohibiting assisted suicide, and to see them anew as necessary and to be upheld. The principle of justice involved is that no vulnerable person is to be put under the influence of another to choose death.

The law deters involvement in another's suicide, not to make suicide a lonely affair, but because the involvement of any other person raises the possibility of malicious pressure being brought to bear to choose suicide.

For those who cannot believe in such pressure, consider a letter sent only days ago to one of my patients by her sister, to which I refer with permission. It abuses my patient as a "no-hoper" who "should die," and blatantly demands all proceeds from her will.

This is a patient not endowed with great self-esteem. Any debate on assisted suicide has to take into account the grim nature of some family relationships.

When the House of Lords rejected assisted suicide and euthanasia, it concluded, "We are concerned that vulnerable people-the elderly, lonely, sick or distressed-- would feel pressure, whether real or imagined, to seek early death. …