You’ll be the death of me…..words I yelled at my daughter only this morning after it took almost two hours to get her out her warm cosy bed, into her school clothes and out of the door.
The morning witch menacingly waved her mascara wand at me as she fell out of the front door threatening to call social services; the irony of such a threat totally lost on one so young who totally believes in the efficiency and protection of the state, via the state designed National Curriculum.
Our conversations aren’t always so fraught, just the ones that take place with a deadline in sight. There I go again, that word, dead.
An hour with no backchat is occasionally nice; however, any parent reading this will of course know that right through your very core runs an uncontrollable desire to protect one's children from all harm, emotional and physical, which is why when my daughter posed a question the other evening I felt a new emotion when answering.
We were listening to a report regarding assisted suicide on the PM programme. My daughter suddenly asked me "gosh, does this mean that when I’m older someone could put me down?"
I thought before I answered.
Both the inevitability and the random nature of death make us sensitive to its arrival.
Death is an event, a tragedy, a momentous occasion. One which is completely out of our control. We avoid it, don’t very often talk about it, rarely prepare for it and when it happens, mourn it. It almost always happens naturally.
Sometimes those left behind have the chance to prepare themselves for the inevitable shock. For instance, in the rare case a life support machine is turned off the patient will die of whatever illness necessitates the use of life support. Suicide has not been assisted. Nothing has been administered to hasten the end of life. We still mourn and grieve. The time of death was still out of our control.
Should death suddenly be within our control, would it remain an event? Would it still be a momentous occasion one which we grieve and mourn?
All over the country those who are elderly and vulnerable, those who are ill, those who are living with relatives are safe. They are protected by the law. How many would feel obliged to consider suicide if it were legal and if they felt they had become a burden?
If ending one's own life or that of others over time became no longer a big deal, would we as a society become insensitive to death?
If that were the case how long would it be before the state decided to move in?
With an aging population and NHS spending ever increasing, would the day arrive when the authorities felt an obligation to move from withholding treatment to administering life ending solutions to a hospital bound patient without relatives?
I looked at my daughter as I answered her question. I saw the day when she may be elderly in a hospital bed and I was no longer there to protect her, to love and care for her.
I imagined a doctor sitting on the side of her bed, gently taking her hand and talking to what will always be my little girl, the kindest being I know, about how she feels a burden to the nurses or her family, and offering her one of his special cocktails.
The eugenics argument is rearing its head and will continue to re-surface again and again until the advocates believe they find the composition of Parliament sympathetic enough to win the argument and then the vote.
The only way I could answer the question "would someone be able to put me down?", was with the answer that as an MP I would do everything within my ability to stop someone one day offering my daughter, and any other precious life, a deadly cocktail.