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In the 1950s my late father, who worked as a pharmacist in a hospital, told me there were times he would hear terminally ill patients screaming in agony and asking distressed nurses to help them because a prescribed amount of pain killer could no longer ease their suffering.
On such occasions he would pray for the arrival of a liberal doctor to come on duty knowing he would issue a proscription for increased dosage of the drug that would bring the inevitable death of the patient sooner but end needless suffering.
Today the situation is greatly improved due to palliative care. However, there are still tragic cases such as Marie Fleming, whose wish for an end to her suffering has been denied. We have no say how we come into this world but surely we should have a choice as to how we leave it? I can only hope the day will come when people terminaly ill, with clear knowledge and full consent can avail, as the Greeks would say, of a good or easier death — euthanasia.
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