When I started thinking hard about euthanasia, I visited my friend who has a progressive illness affecting his body and mind, and who is in hospital-level care. His partner has moved into the same residence to help look after him. She responds to his suffering with love, and you can sometimes see in his eyes that he recognises this. I honour them both: his endurance and gratitude; her generosity.
But, with euthanasia in mind, I think about them both in a different way. Is his suffering unbearable? Although he wouldn’t be competent to make a request for euthanasia, should it become legal in New Zealand, their situation calls into question the value of his endurance and her generosity.
In what follows I explore my intuition that actively ending suffering by causing death undercuts the meaning of suffering.