There is tons of material available on euthanasia, or mercy killing in cases of terminally ill patients who may be beyond medical help of any kind.
There are the debates based on medicine, religion, ethics, morals, law and fundamental rights. And read as much as you may on all perspectives, nothing prepares you to imagine a situation where a terminally ill daughter takes legal recourse to fight her parents, to be allowed to die.
Grace SunEun Lee, a former financial manager in New York, perhaps had an independent life, we can only assume. But at 28, paralyzed and hooked up to a feeding tube and a ventilator at the North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, she found herself to be helpless. She has brain cancer.
If she wished not to continue with her altered reality, I would say, it is only understandable. But her father being a man of god – a pastor – thought it would amount to suicide, a sin in the eyes of god.
So Lee moved court, and in what I think is a revolutionary ruling, the New York Court of Appeals said the parents could not interfere and that Lee’s wishes were paramount.
But here’s the twist in this heart rending tale: Lee had a change of heart and ‘decided’ to let her parents decide her fate. And chose to live, even if on life support.
I know it has been debated to death (apologies for the cliché) but why is suicide such a taboo in society? Why has mankind come to accept death to be such a negative concept? When and why did religion get attached to suicide, and why has it deemed it to be a sin?
What is it about life that makes people so hopeful and dare I say, clingy? Of course those who commit suicide do so only under unhappy circumstances and one doesn’t really hear of anyone committing suicide because he/she has had a good run and is content enough to die.
For me, if I am living it is because I am alive. But if I were to die this moment, even as I am writing this, so be it. But would I simply kill myself this next moment, I do not know. It is easy to live without a reason; but why is it so difficult to die without a reason?
In Lee’s case, would the decisions have been different had she been in a coma and not been able to ‘decide’ anymore? Would the doctors have been able to convince the parents differently in that case? Would the courts have ruled differently too?
Lee’s own decision not to let the doctors pull the plug on her amazingly establishes the power of life, even if in the name of a merciless god.
In this fight, the human protagonists were doomed to lose either way. But, God seems to have won. Or is it life that won, I wonder.