Leith and Suffering

Locked In Syndrome is a condition in which a person is able to think, see and feel but cannot eat, talk or move any muscles except his or her eyes. Darren Leith suffered a brain stem stroke in 2017 leaving him in this condition. The now 50-year-old father of two has since been living in a rehab center 100 miles away from his family.

If this condition were as common as dementia, would advocates be getting the word out for people to fill out advance directives insisting that food and water be withheld until they died? Probably so, and many people would be sure to write such directives.

Leith has been making progress in his rehabilitation. Using a letter board, he can look at letters to spell out words to communicate. When his family last visited him, he spelled, “Take me home you two.”

Might he have been euthanized had he thought of writing an advance directive for such a condition? When first diagnosed, he would not have been able to communicate that he no longer wanted to abide by that advance directive.

Even if he had no such directive, his suffering was a result of being apart from his family. He may well have requested assisted suicide if it were legal because of it. Would anyone have questioned his rationality? Most people request PAS for existential suffering. Leith’s greatest suffering was not his condition; it was was being separated from his children.

Assisted suicide has always been and continues to be promoted and funded by a small group of social elites who have always insisted on having things their way regardless of the consequences for anyone else. Assisted suicide is cheap and easy; bringing Leith home is costly and requires that the family be “burdened” with his care. As a society, in which do we want to invest?

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