Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Can we look at life, too, please?

Breaking into the Manifesto entries to repost an entry from Nicky's blog that covers something I feel is important and at the same time quite hard to articulate without seeming heartless: that while it is right and proper that in the aftermath of Lynn Gilderdale's death the issue of assisted suicide should arise, it has been focussed on in the press to such an extent that the illness which led Lynn to want to leave life, and the question of why she was not helped by the UK medical system while alive, are close to being rendered as invisible as ever.

Nicky writes:

Some journalists have taken advantage of the recent Kay Gilderdale trial in the UK to discuss assisted suicide. See, for example, this piece from the Guardian by Madeleine Bunting:

I don't read the Guardian, but I do read the Guardian Weekly, where the same article was published under the heading "It's hard to fathom the reality of death". This is my letter to the editor in response:

Dear Editor:

Madeleine Bunting neatly side-steps the real issues emanating from the Kay Gilderdale trial (It's hard to fathom the reality of death, 12 February). This trial may have shown "the English legal system working at its best", however Lynn Gilderdale's many years of suffering with myalgic encephalomyelitis (classified by the WHO - ICD-10 G93.3 - as a neurological illness) have patently shown the British health service (NHS), the medical research council (MRC), and British investigative journalists working at their worst. Ms. Bunting may have difficulty fathoming the reality of death. I have difficulty fathoming the reality of life with a disease that many doctors, researchers, and members of government deem unworthy of their full attention. Why is no one questioning how the British medical system let down this young woman and continues to let down people with ME? No one with ME should feel so abandoned and without hope that they would want to take their own life - this is the real failure at issue here.

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