All your readers should support MP John Hayes in his determination to assist dementia sufferers in any way he can.
In her reply to Mr Hayes, Mrs Woolard mentions, as he did, dignity in old age. I’ve always felt that this is a generalisation – every old person is not dignified. But as we grow older we begin to realise the things that really matter, eg Have we made a will? What will happen to our loved ones when we are no longer with them? And we begin to reflect on our own departure from this life.
Obviously I do not know whether Mr Hayes has watched a loved one die slowly and painfully – I have, three times, so I fully understand Mrs Woolard’s feelings.
With regard to sanctity of life I must support Mr Hayes. However, most of us will have read where a patient has been allowed to die by a machine being switched off or a medicine discontinued. And some will know the words: ‘Thou shalt not kill, but thou shalt not strive officiously to keep alive’. My concern about euthanasia, if made legal, is that it will grow from small beginnings to greater proportions, as in other spheres of legislation, eg health and safety.
In over 60 years of active ministry (I am in my early 90s, I know a little about old age) I have visited hundreds of sick people, young and old, in their homes, care homes, hospitals, and marvelled at the care they have received. Indeed, all carers deserve every possible support.
The real question is ‘why any suffering’? – a vast and complicated subject. But allow me to quote the former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume: ‘I do not believe that the human mind has ever been able to resolve this great dilemma, I know of no philosopher who has ever given a convincing explanation for the prevalence of evil and suffering.’