When is 40% more than 60%?

When a headline screams “40 per cent support euthanasia: poll” as it did on a news article on www.news.ninemsn.com.au (18-3-11).  

The online poll involved 2505 Australians in October of last year.  ‘More than 40 per cent of Australians would "take the option of euthanasia if available" if they were terminally ill with just weeks to live, a poll has indicated,’ the article stated, conveniently omitting to mention the fact that 60% would not!  One wonders if the lack of support for euthanasia would have been even more if it was a truly random poll done by professional market research companies over the phone, rather than a quick click poll via the internet.

The research was commissioned by Alzheimer's Australia (AA), with AA chief executive Glenn Rees commenting about whether people wanted to be ‘force fed’.  What a dramatic and incorrect way to speak about the normal situation of merely supplying nutrition to people who are unable to supply it to themselves.

The news article stated, “While it focused on dementia, respondents were asked what they would want if they were terminally ill with only a few weeks to live”.  One has to ask the question, if one has only ‘a few weeks to live’, why would you want to kill yourself?  Won’t the end come soon enough?

Thankfully, at this point in time, euthanasia is not legal in any state or territory of Australia.

Whilst Rees states “as an organisation we don't have a view one way or the other on euthanasia," the mere phrasing of words eg ‘force fed’ implies a, shall we say, softening if not promoting of an attitude towards euthanasia.  The fact that AA will be releasing a discussion paper on euthanasia ahead of the organisation's annual conference in Brisbane from 17-20 May 2011 and a subsequent ‘debate’ on it will be of some concern.

One wonders if after this conference, there will be a subtle or not so subtle change in the view of AA towards euthanasia.  We sincerely hope not.  Love, care and patience are what Alzheimer’s patients need, not a fast track to demise.