Assisted dying is a topic that has been growing in prominence over the last few years, and now it’s getting the national debate that this issue deserves.
Lovin Malta and the Malta Humanist Association sat down with some of these people, including Sam Debattista, a prominent and vocal assisted dying activist, to hear their personal experiences with the issue.
Recounting her own personal experience with the issue, Debattista explains that “suddenly, I was faced with this terminal illness where, at 17 I used to feel invincible and completely infinite, and then all of a sudden I was being told that that’s not the case. That I was to endure a life of suffering.”
This forms part of some of the strongest arguments in favour of assisted dying – the concept of self-determination of fate and the idea of allowing a person to die in dignity.
The topic remains highly convoluted, with a mixture of religious, ethical and moral concerns all acting as the main counter-arguments to legalising assisted dying.
Yet, Debattista is of the belief that “there’s a lot of misconception involved with assisted dying.”
“It’s always illustrated to be this horrible experience of the doctor making the decision to turn off the machine or to give you a lethal injection,” Debattista notes. “In reality, assisted dying is nothing like that and there’s a lot of fear and misunderstanding around it.”
She clarifies that assisted dying is in actual fact a very humane process where, whilst it is still death – it is death on the terms that you decide. Whilst the end is the same, it is the means that you change.
As the debate surrounding assisted dying ramps up, there is a hope that the issue will not become partisan. The expectation is that politicians, no matter the party, may be in favour or against assisted dying.
Currently, assisted dying in Malta is highly illegal and is considered a punishable crime. It is for this reason that many doctors remain in a position of being unable to properly assist patients who would otherwise wish for the ability to have assisted dying.
For the most part, many activists like Debattista do not intend to necessarily change everyone’s opinion on the topic. Yet rather, change people’s opposition to allowing the legalisation of assisted dying.
“I don’t want to change your mind. I just want you to distinguish between being opposed to assisted dying and being opposed to the legalisation of assisted dying.”
How do you feel about assisted dying? Let us know!