I am a palliative care nurse practitioner, and so work with the terminally ill every day. Approaching the end of one’s life is a highly vulnerable time, whether you are old, ill or marginalised. Yet, it is clear to me that to be human is to be vulnerable.
However, there are times in our lives when we are more vulnerable than others. Vulnerability is often not a choice, it is not something we seek out, but is it something we will all experience during our lives to a greater or lesser degree.
It is the role of a good society to support those who are vulnerable. Indeed, some would say that society should be judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable members. I wonder, then, how we would be judged as a society today. How do we support the most vulnerable? How do we support our elderly when we have some of the worst elder abuse statistics in the developed world? How do we support those who are mentally ill when we have some of the worst suicide statistics in the developed world? How do we support our children when we have some of the worst child poverty statistics in the developed world? And perhaps quite timely – How do we support our terminally ill when are faced with new legislation to allow euthanasia?
In the upcoming general election we have a choice to vote to enact legislation that will open the door to euthanasia for some of the most vulnerable in our community. By opposing the legislation, we have an opportunity to speak out as a society and to offer protection, care and support.
As a society we can do better for those who are terminally ill and vulnerable.
Sunday 11 October 2020 is ‘Respect Life Sunday’, and this year the theme is ‘Valuing the Vulnerable’. Click here to learn more and download resources.