Assisted dying legislation in Victoria will be debated next week when Parliament returns. No doubt there will be some robust discussion over the next few weeks until a conscience vote by the end of the year is reached.
I will write a blog on the Assisted Dying Bill next week, but the focus of this blog is The Right to Try rather than the right to die. In the USA some states have laws that allow terminally ill patients to TRY experimental treatments (medication, procedures and other possible cures) that are unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These treatments have passed basic safety testing but are not freely available.
I believe in the right to try for two reasons. Firstly, if I were dying from a terminal illness, I would want to be given every possible opportunity to beat it – not because I’m scared to die but because I have so much for which to live. As a husband and father, I want to be around for my family for a long time to come. One of my long-term prayers and goals has been to grow old with Christie. So far so good! I also have a wonderful relationship with our three daughters. I love being “there” for them and want to be there for many more years. I want to walk them down the aisle one day, should they choose to marry. I want to meet my sons-in-law and my grandkids. I want to spoil them rotten (the grandkids that is) and be a hip old pop. I still have so many dad jokes up my sleeve too.
I also believe that God has so much more for me to accomplish. I love leading our amazing community that is Bayside Church and I’d like to stay around longer to see what God has in store for us. I have books to write, sermons to teach, people to love, disciples to make, places to visit and battles to win. Longevity runs in my family (my gran was 101 and my great gran 103), and I hope I’ve picked up that gene or whatever it is. Should I however succumb to a terminal illness I’d want to have the right to try anything that would help me beat it and stick around longer.
Lest you should think my motivation was only selfish, my second reason for believing in the right to try is to engage in experiments that could benefit others. Yes, I would put my hand up and volunteer to be a human guinea pig. Even if the treatment were unsuccessful for me, I’d hope that those behind the trial would gain useful information that would help other people and save their lives.
There are some who are against the right to try legislation because they say it opens people to elevated risk. What could be riskier than having a terminal illness? Of course, any right to try legislation would need to provide drug companies some legal protection if a treatment resulted in harm, but let’s not use that as an excuse to deprive people of a possible cure and an extension to their quality of life.
For a human face to this issue read Deborah Sims’ recent article in the Herald Sun.