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Assisted Living, Assisted Dying

| by Victor Cherubim

(July 17, 2014, London., Sri Lanka Guardian) It is no great surprise that the expression “to curry favour with someone” is to do things, to please, praise or pander to someone, in the hope of getting favoured treatment. In diplomatic parlance, it is referred to as lobbying, with the end game, perhaps, leading to influence peddling.

“Pandang” as we know, is a very lucrative business, not only in our country, but the world over. For the rich and the famous, it is a top pastime, a status symbol. For the lowly, it is livelihood. It may be extended to cover nations as well, this proclivity as “most favoured nation status”, embeds national recognition. When with “pandang” the objective is reached, achieved and accomplished, we call it in the colloquial, as
“okhama set vella.”

In the West in particular, lobbying is both an art and a science. “It is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the Government”. It is a practice of individuals and specially vested organisations and interests, trying to influence the policies of MP’s. The methods of lobbying vary in diversity and intensity, from country to country and can range usually from sending mail shots, making presentations, providing briefing materials, organising rallies, throwing parties, offering gifts, paying obeisance or parading with flags, shouting slogans nobody understands, but with ambience. It is this so called “strategic planning” which has come to encapsulate the themes of “assisted living and assisted dying”.

Assisted dying

In Britain today, there is much lobbying taking place, a rightly debate in Parliament to amend the Suicide Act 1961. On the 18 July 2014, the House of Lords, will debate Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, in its Second Reading.

Those campaigning for the right to assisted dying maintain, among healthcare professionals and others, that dying patients should really not have to suffer against their wishes or travel abroad to die, to avoid what is the current Suicide Act in England and Wales. Active, passive and voluntary suicides are all terms “bantered” to muddle the argument, according to many.

Thos who favour the dignity of dying with assisted dying claim that this method is just one of the many options at the end of life. They argue that there is nothing humane about forcing people with terminal illness to stay alive for as long as they can, no matter how good the health care they receive, from a profession forced into cruelty, by an existing inadequate law.

The issue is the right of the terminally ill to end their lives, is a mind shift by some Anglican bishops on the question of “aid in dying” arguing sanctity of life has not the effect of sanctioning anguish and pain.

Right to life lobby

“Right to Life” lobby on the other hand clarify that the Assisted Dying Bill is a dangerous precedent which may lead to wider and wider demands for disabled people and others to be granted “a right to die”, which enshrines the defence of the sanctity of human life, of the existing law, which the Supreme Court in England has threatened to overturn.

It is common knowledge that it is not for a doctor to play God at the end of life. Moreover, giving doctors the power to help terminally-ill patients to commit suicide would undermine the laws’ basic purpose, to protect vulnerable people. Besides, it is hard to imagine any group of people more vulnerable than those who are dying. Baroness Butler Sloss, a former High Court Judge states, in plain language, “assisted dying is a complex subject and it is very easy amid all the arguments and counter arguments to lose sight of, what the central question is. It is not whether assisted dying is compassionate. Compassion is common currency to both sides of the debate. It is whether we should licence it by law. In plain language, assisted dying means licensing doctors to supply lethal drugs to terminally ill patients to enable them to commit suicide. We are told the law should be changed because those who break it are not usually prosecuted. What we have here, is two sides of the same coin.”

Assisted living

It was only days ago that we saw on TV that people from Roumania, including extended gypsy families, settling in Yorkshire over generations, able to claim “assisted living” by migration relying on EU citizenship. Families proudly proclaim they collect £8000 or more a month which they send back to Roumania to purchase luxury homes.

Health Tourism

At the other end of the spectrum, in a crackdown on health tourism. we learn that all foreigners will be clobbered with a bill for 150% for using National Health Service, including Commonwealth citizens. They will pay £2,200 for having a baby, £2,800 for a cataract surgery and £12,865 for a hip replacement, as a way to recoup the £500 million lost on NHS in Britain, every year.

The charges announced would apply to visitors on temporary work visas, while those coming here for longer than six months will have to pay a health surcharge.

Changing values – personality or policy in Britain?

It is hardly the case that values are changing in Britain, but election fever has set in. British Prime Minister is preparing for battle by firing the starting pistol in the race to win the general election ten months ahead. By bringing in more women into his Cabinet in his recent reshuffle, booting out dead wood in his ministerial ranks, installing media savvy MP’s and “doling out” Queen’s Honours as rewards to ex Ministers who left quietly, David Cameron signals his intention to fight a tough campaign based on personality rather than policy. When it suits Britain, values remain, but personalities change.