I strongly believe it is important for me to just start with an admission that I am so glad that euthanasia is still legally considered as a criminal act in South Africa. And after reading Sean Davison’s new book, I am even more convinced that it should rather remain like that.
In The Price of Mercy- A fight for the right to die with Dignity, pro euthanasia and right-to-die activist, Professor Davison recounts events that followed after his short arrest for premeditated murder charges against the people he had assisted to commit suicide.
Using the human suffering of the three men that he played a huge part in helping them end their lives, Davison advocates for a change of law in decriminalizing euthanasia in South Africa so as to allow people like him to assist others to end their lives, an act he describes as showing “mercy”.
Now I need to make a disclaimer that even before I started paging through the book, I intentionally removed my religious convictions with a need to fully understand that which Sean advocates for without any biasedness creeping through.
However, I must admit that if Sean’s intention(s) with this book was to win the ordinary people to support assisted-suicide at the end of reading, then he failed with me.
Perusing through the pages, I was disappointed with the little argument that Sean provides in his assertion that assisted-suicide is showing “mercy” to someone rather than a criminal act.
The scribe really failed to provide compelling reasons as to why assisting one to take their lives, irrespective of their wishes or suffering they are going through is legally and morally justifiable. Instead he spends too much time outlining how he had broke laws in his belief to assist people to end their lives.
Throughout his interactions with the three men he uses as point of reference, as a reader, I honestly felt like his role in helping these individuals to take their lives was more of someone committing a murder than showing a “mercy” as he would want us to believe.
Granted, euthanasia is one of those contentious subjects, but I just feel like the scribe failed to provide enough reasons to make a compelling case for it to legalized in SA.
Also, inside the pages of this book there’s less solution as to how, if euthanasia is legalized in SA, will not be abused to an extent where people would just kill others and claim that it was under the pretext of assisted-suicide.
I strongly believe The Price of Mercy proves why those who assist others to commit suicide should continue to be legally charged for their criminal act(harsh, I know, but the law must protect us from each other) and also why euthanasia should just remain illegal in South Africa.
I must admit that book thus opens a necessary discussion about matters of suicide and how society should change their attitude towards those who decides to take their lives.
As the scribe hopes that maybe, if those like me, who do not agree with his position on the legalization of euthanasia would after 20 or 30 year’s time understand why it should be legalized, I hope when that time comes, him and his lot would have provided more ethically, legally, and morally compelling reasons on why this is an act of showing “mercy” than a crime.