Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite believes mercy killings should be an option for persons who are terminally ill in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
Speaking at a workshop on Strategy for Health-Related Law at the headquarters of the Pan-American Health Organisation on Dayrells Road, Christ Church, Brathwaite revealed that only about three weeks ago he had visited with an older brother who is terminally ill and is now restricted to using adult pampers.
Recalling that his brother was a “free spirit” in his youthful years, Brathwaite argued that if his brother had his way he probably would opt not to continue living so as to avoid having someone provide for him for the rest of his life.
While acknowledging that citizens of the region were guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom to own property and freedom of movement, Brathwaite contended that they should also be guaranteed the freedom to choose to die in dignity if they so desired.
Suggesting that this was one of the areas that should be examined at the workshop by the legal officers present, the Attorney General said: “I thought that at some point in time as a country and as a region that aspires to First World status, we are going to have to address our minds to mercy killings.
“Certainly from my perspective if I had the option, while recognizing that everybody dies, I will accept euthanasia. What we do not want is the suffering that we have seen many of our friends and family go through,” the embattled Government official added.
Brathwaite, who has recently been under fire for comments he made in support of the release of a murder accused police officer on bail, suggested that during their deliberations the delegates should examine this aspect of human existence and identify a legal framework for addressing the challenges facing terminally-ill patients.
The Attorney General also raised the issue of organ donations, suggesting that an acceptable legal framework should be put in place to ensure that the process was transparent and acceptable.
He further suggested that as policymakers in the region, they should make provisions for whether or not an individual would like to donate any or all of his organs at the time of death.
The Attorney General contended that Barbadian citizens who have reached their twilight years should not be denied access to health insurance, while also calling on delegates to reach agreement in this area and to have an acceptable policy.
And noting that he had only heard the views of the legal fraternity on decriminalization of small quantities of marijuana, Brathwaite called on the medical fraternity to make their voices heard in the dialogue.
Pointing out that in recent years there has been a mushrooming of private medical facilities in Barbados, the Attorney General suggested that they should be examined from a legal and regulatory perspective to ensure that standards were maintained.