Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Lonliness of the Long-Term Carer

This case and this one as well show all to clearly the stresses carers go through when supporting loved ones.

While I won't dwell on the subject of whether its morally acceptable to kill a loved one to end their grief, all I can say is that if there was no other motive than to end the suffering of a loved one, what is the point of prosecution? It won't serve as a deterrent, because when carers get to the state of mind where they feel that ending a loved one's life is far better than leaving them alive then really, are they at that very moment, in control of their sanity?

If there was some ulterior motive, like killing the child to make way for a new boyfriend, then I would say yes, a charge of murder is justified. But in both these cases, surely manslaughter due to diminished responsibility is a far more just charge?

If you look deeper, there are similarities between the two cases: two women each with siblings that needed intensive care and were inextricably bound up in providing that care. They were at an age where things start to go wrong with the body. I'm sure it crossed their mind several times: who would look after their child when they had passed away? Would they be guaranteed the current level of care? Was the current level of care adequate in the first place? Did they have to fight tooth and nail to get even the most basic level of support for their children? Prior experience with support services may have made them believe that their children would have suffered greatly if they weren't there to provide a decent level of care.

I know those self same thoughts have crossed my mind several times when dealing with my son (not killing him I hasten to add, but wondering just how he would survive independantly if I were to be run over by a truck for instance). I know the frustrations that comes with dealing with beaurocracy, I know the excuses given by all the services to deny even the most basic support. I've been there in the pit of despair and its not a pretty place to be.

The judge in the first case was correct: there is no such thing as a mercy killing. But really, to try someone pushed to the edges of sanity for murder serves no real purpose.

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