A judge in England recently set a deadly precedent when he allowed a psychologically ill woman to kill herself simply because she was worried about growing old and fat.
Judge Justice MacDonald decided that the woman, “Clare,” had weighed the facts in her case and reached a “clear and reasoned decision” on her own, according to The Daily Mail. MacDonald said he ruled in her favor reluctantly because he knew the decision “will alarm and possibly horrify many.”
It is indeed a horrific decision that could threaten many vulnerable people’s lives. Those facing depression or other psychological illnesses could succumb to similar fates as Clare.
Three different psychiatrists examined Clare and diagnosed her with narcissistic personality disorder and underlying histrionic personality disorder, the report states. Despite knowing this, the judge ruled to allow her to kill herself. She died last weekend, shortly after turning 50 years old.
Clare was diagnosed with breast cancer late last year and went through surgery and radiotherapy but refused any medication because she was afraid it would make her fat, the report states.
In September, she tried to kill herself by overdosing and drinking champagne, but she lived through it. The Daily Mail reports more:
She was admitted to King’s College Hospital in London for specialist care and initially agreed to undergo kidney dialysis to treat the overdose.
Although her recovery was taking longer than expected, doctors reassured her that her prognosis was good. If she wanted it, she could have a second chance. A future awaited her.
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But last weekend, Clare’s life ebbed away in her hospital bed. Just days before, an extraordinary court case saw doctors try to force her to accept the medical treatment which would have saved her life and in all likelihood restore her to perfect health.
They argued that she had a ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ which was distorting her judgment. But Clare, who turned 50 in January, insisted she was fully aware of the consequences of refusing treatment.
It was a profoundly complex case, heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London two weeks ago, and it raised important moral questions.
Clare refused medical help and wanted to die, the court was told, not because she had no hope of getting better, but because she didn’t want to ‘live in a council flat, be poor or be ugly’.
Friends and family painted her past as troubled and reckless. She owned a small hotel in the south of England where she cooked and entertained guests, the report states. Though she often appeared cheerful and friendly, she also was a heavy drinker and a irresponsible spender, friends told the newspaper.
The socialite reveled “in a bustling social life, which included polo matches and horse-racing, and indulging in Mediterranean beach holidays with her husband where she showed off her enviably girlish figure in colourful bikinis,” according to the report.
She was married four times, and some described her as a “completely indifferent mother” to her children. Though at one point she and her daughters did not speak, they reconciled several years ago, according to the report.
One of her daughters told the court: “Put bluntly, her life has always revolved around her looks, men, material possessions and ‘living the high life.’ She understands that other people have failed relationships, feel sad and continue living, but for her, as she has said, she doesn’t want to ‘live in a council flat, be poor or be ugly,’ which she equates with being old.”
Clare herself told her family that she wanted to die because she wouldn’t be able to maintain her “quality of life.”
“Quality of life” is an undefinable, arbitrary phrase that euthanasia advocates have been using to push assisted suicide and euthanasia across the world.
The judge’s ruling on Clare’s tragic case shows just how dangerous the argument can be – a rich, socialite women who still is in fairly good health can take her own life simply because she fears that some day she may not be able to constantly live in the high-society, care-free way she once did. Clare was sick, both physically and psychologically, it’s clear – but her conditions could have been treated.
If courts continue to support people who equate the value of life with high society and money and good health, more lives will be threatened with this dangerous slope toward euthanasia.