'I Refused to Help My Father Die'

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Talk of assisted suicide has surged once again. The idea of a dignified death, one imposing no burden on relatives or an overtaxed system, seems to have gained adherents in the U.S. and Europe. But Cristina Odone pushes against assisted suicide in Tuesday's Telegraph. When her father asked her to help him die, she refused. Her father is none other than Augusto Odone, father of Lorenzo Odone, portrayed in the Susan Sarandon movie Lorenzo's Oil. That's the Augusto Odone who famously refused to accept a grim prognosis for his son, instead working--without a medical degree--on a treatment.

In her argument against assisted suicide, Cristina Odone explains that father was in pain, feeling "humiliated, vulnerable and out of control. But I didn't want to kill him," she writes. "I wanted to kill the men and women around him who were failing so manifestly in caring for him." They could have "treated him with respect," managed his pain, "even maybe engaged with him to raise his spirits," but did none of these things. Those who favor assisted suicide, she argues, should realize that it wouldn't be the same for all classes:

If you are an articulate, well-educated grown-up, with no money worries, assisted suicide seems an intelligent option. You have a GP who's known you for years, family members who can afford the cost of caring for you, and if any health care professional, in a nursing home or hospital, were to put any pressure on you to, er, accelerate your departure, you would know how to defend yourself.

But what if you are not one of these lucky few? What if you are disadvantaged, your family in dire financial straits, and your fear of authorities as great as your ignorance of your rights?

Odone's father recovered, and she clearly doesn't regret her choice. The "chattering classes" love the idea of assisted suicide, she says. But that doesn't mean we should listen to them.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.