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Ever the arty Autie

What is Dying With Dignity?


The Call by Donna Williams

The Call by Donna Williams

Dying in a hospital, unless you have legal paperwork supporting your right to refuse treatment, you could be revived and revived and revived only to continue to spend your last weeks or days suffering.

Palliative Care by contrast is not designed to keep you alive, but to make your inevitable and eventual death from terminal illness one with minimal physical pain or mental distress. Palliative care evolved and progressively become an integrated part of medical treatment of both potentially terminally ill patients and those who have reached the terminal stage in their illness, yet most people still equate it with ‘going somewhere to die’ or have little idea how different it is from ‘dying in a usual hospital ward’.

I’ve visited two Palliative Care wards and both were comfortable places, more like being in a nice hotel than the more medicalised rooms, sounds and protocols in a standard hospital ward. My aunt recently died in a palliative care ward. Her room was lovely, colorful, homey. There was space for family and an armchair which rolled out into a bed which her daughter spent most nights sleeping on in her mum’s last two weeks.

Nevertheless, however comfortable Palliative Care may make your journey with terminal illness, with home support, with respite, or with round the clock palliative care in a palliative care ward in one’s last weeks or days, there are still those who would prefer not to have their death drawn out this way.

Dying With Dignity represents those who believe in the right of the terminally ill to seek and obtain medical assistance to end their life with dignity. This means granting freedom of choice to people who are incurably ill with profound suffering, the kind of suffering most of us would not leave our pets in. Dying With Dignity seeks to break down myths about end of life matters so we can one day live in a humane society which recognizes the right of terminally ill people to a dignified death as one of our most essential human rights. Each Branch has its own information site, including Victoria which has its own facebook page for those interested to know more.

Other groups like Dignitas in Switzerland or Germany already provide medically assisted death to those with medical documentation to verify they have a terminal illness with 6 months to live or living in intolerable pain. Many countries in the world already have medically assisted death and euthanasia was legal in Northern Territory until overturned by the Howard government.

Today, Australian’s overwhelmingly support medically assisted right to end one’s life though this basic human right to a dignified death is not protected yet by law. With your help, we could change that. Spread awareness of what dying with dignity is, break down the fear and ignorance around the topic of a dignified death and the right to die with dignity.

Donna Williams, BA Hons, Dip Ed.
Author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter.
Autism consultant and public speaker.

I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community.

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