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Whose life is it anyway?

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Introduction

Whose life is it anyway? The case centres around Ken Harrison's determination to exercise his right to die rather than live in a state of physical helplessness. As a result of a road accident, Mr Harrison suffered a multitude of injuries, which included a severed spinal cord. The prognosis was bleak - he had limited facial movements and was totally paralysed form the neck downwards. Throughout his time in hospital he maintains, much to the medical profession's objection, his right to have the choice whether to live or die. The issues involved in the case are more poignant because of the nature of Ken's personality. He is described by Dr Emerson as 'an intelligent, sensitive and articulate man.' ...read more.

Middle

The case against Ken's wishes to have treatment removed is put by various members of the medical profession. It is a fact, that all the people in the medical profession take the Hippocratic Oath which means they must do all in their power to preserve life. So, ken has an uphill struggle to persuade them against the 'forces of the medical bureaucracy.' Dr Scott does not know how to deal with Ken's forceful demands, so she states that he is depressed and prescribes the tranquiliser Valium. Ken, 'who prefers to keep his consciousness clear' refuses the tranquilisers but the 'heavy brigade' (as Ken calls the 'sister') are brought in to administer an injection against his wishes. ...read more.

Conclusion

She wanted an assurance that her husband would not be prosecuted if he assisted her to commit suicide. Her legal representative in the case at the High Court said, 'The terrible irony of this case is that the very disease which causes her suffering prevents her from taking her life unaided'. Just as in Ken's case, she wanted to control how and when she died, sparing her the suffering and indignity she would otherwise endure. The different outcomes of the two cases show the controversy and mental anguish that exists. It seems that the medical profession could accept that preserving life is not the ultimate answer, after all they already take decisions on whether to switch off life-support machines. However, until laws are changed the legal profession will always class assisted suicide as murder even in the most pitiable of circumstances.HHhhas ...read more.

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