Right to Die – Hazel McHaffie

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Right to Die is the about a young man who is dying from Motor Neurone Disease. Written in the form of a diary, it shows how his thoughts and emotions change as his health deteriorates.

The book is essentially a study of the euthanasia debate. It is packed with arguements on both sides, but ultimately results in a powerful pro-euthanasia message.

The book is very well researched, with medical and legal facts sprinkled liberally, but appropriately throughout. It was very emotional and I found that I couldn’t read much of it at once, as it was too sad.

I do not want to be relegated to the rank of a dumb animal because I can no longer plead my cause. I do not want to be pitied by the gentle ones, resented by the hard ones, tolerated by the indifferent ones.

The medical professionals in this book were all portrayed as incredibly helpful, caring individuals and this jarred with me initially, as I am so used to hearing about them behaving negligently. I still feel that the GP in the book was unrealistically attentive, but in the end  it was refreshing to see the medical profession in a positive light.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in exploring the euthanasia debate, or looking for an emotional read.


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  1. Sandy says:

    This is such a tough subject. A close friend of mine’s husband was in a devastating car crash and was rendered a comatose vegetable. I saw her struggle through all the issues in deciding whether to pull the plug, which is about the same thing. Still, there is are the Christian values that every life is worthy of respect. I can see where it would be hard to read this, but worthwhile at the same time. Bravo to you for tackling it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, It is such a hard subject and the problem is that every case is different. This book covers many different angles of the arguement, but I don’t know what I’d do if I ever had to deal with such a difficult decision.

  2. Misfit says:

    I have been in this situation with my mother and now my sister in law is facing the same thing with her father – what do you want when there is no possibility of any quality of life? A very very tough decision and IMHO one best left for the family. When my pets are beyond medical help I am allowed to put them down. I don’t think I could read this either, it would hit too close to home.

    1. Jackie says:

      Misfit, I’m sorry to hear that you have been affected by these issues. It is a very hard decision when it is the life of a pet, so I can only imagine how hard it must be for someone you know and love. I think anyone going through these problems would find this a heart breaking book, so I can see why you’d want to avoid it.

  3. Rebecca Cox says:

    I am currently dealing with this with my mother. She has lost all ability to talk, walk see and hear, she sits in a chair in a nursing home and is fed by her care givers. She was very adamant that she never wanted to be kept alive like this. She made me promise I would not prolong her life if this happened. Yet the doctors fight me and will not stop most of the medications that keep her alive and in this condition. I can only stop them from putting her on a ventilator or giving her IV’s. But as long as she can swallow, they will continue to medicate her and keep her alive. What do I do? What is right? Who is right? What does she want? How can I help her? I think about this every day.

    1. Jackie says:

      Rebecca, I’m so sorry to hear about your situation – it must be devastating for your family. I think this book answers a lot of your questions, but the heart breaking thing is that there is often nothing you can legally do. The book makes the point that many people do not want to live like this, but once they deteriorate far enough they are no longer able to do anything about the situation themselves.

      All I can do is offer you my best wishes. My thoughts are with you and your family. *HUGS*

  4. Simon S says:

    I don’t know if I could read this, I think certain books cut a little too near the bone. Though I do find the euthanasia debate an interesting one I might have to skip this as it would verge on too personal. Maybe in the summer when the darkness outside isnt depressing enough without such a sad read.

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, I am lucky in that I do not have personal experience of this terrible situation, but I found it a tough read – so emotional. I can’t decide whether I’d recommend this to someone going through this or not. I imagine it would be a very painful read, but it might help to give some clarity to their thoughts, or at least realise that others have equally difficult choices.

      I think in the end it must be an individual choice. So sad.

  5. Kathleen says:

    Euthanasia is a tough subject but it sounds like it was handled well in the book. Having been a hospice volunteer I can definitely relate to both sides in the debate over whether or not people should have the right to legally decide when and how to end their lives.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, Yes – it was handled really well and was clearly very well researched. I can imagine that working in a hospice would have been very tough at times – you might find this book interesting.

  6. She says:

    This does sound super sad. I am really in the middle with what I believe about euthanasia, so maybe this would be a good book to read :)

    1. Jackie says:

      She, I am pro-euthanasia, but I can’t imagine trying to write the laws to bring it in. It would be so complicated as every situation is different. I think you’d be pro-euthanasia if you read this book too – the lengths people have to go to to end their suffering is tragic.

  7. There was a time I was pro-euthanasia, honestly believing that however grim death seems, sometimes life (read prolonging life) can be worse. Yet, personal experiences have changed the way I perceive this debate, and I don’t know – I think I’m on the side that counts on miracles now. Yep, I hate seeing dear ones suffer, but, sometimes, miracles happen, and even if the probability of that is less than 5%, at least it is 5% and not zilch. If, however, the sufferer wants to call it quits when the likelihood of the situation improving is minimal, then it’s their prerogative… I’d hate to be the person calling the shots.

    I am very intrigued by this book, but, I don’t think I should read it…

  8. Jenners says:

    Wow … sounds pretty heavy duty. Not sure if I’m up for this type of book right now.

  9. softdrink says:

    I don’t know that I could bear to read this, although it does sound interesting.

  10. This sounds like an interesting book on such a controversial subject. Going to check this one out…

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