The debate over euthanasia is raging across the world; not only are are numerous states in America fighting to legalize it, but more and more countries are considering it as well. While there are plenty of assisted suicide advocates arguing that people should have the right to die with “dignity” by killing themselves, others are speaking out against it. And notably, those people are typically the ones most at risk to become victims of euthanasia, like Raymond Mok.
Raymond Mok is a New Zealander with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), who was diagnosed with at age seven. The disease is progressive, so while he had a mostly normal childhood, he has since lost much of his mobility. But that has not made him less happy with the life he leads.
“I have partial use of my hands and can use my back, but I still enjoy my life doing what I can do,” he said in an interview with Stuff, a New Zealand website. While most people with DMD do not live past the age of 25, Mok is now 31. “Life expectancy is just an historical average, so I don’t let it confine my decisions,” he explained. “This year, I’m embarking on a counselling degree. I want to help others be happy.”
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But 10 years ago, Mok tried to kill himself — a decision he still regrets. And he now devotes himself to helping other people with disabilities see the value in life, as it was other people like him who inspired him to keep living. He also has been speaking out about how people with disabilities have a right to life, which is more important than ever as New Zealand considers legalizing euthanasia. Most Kiwis support the legalization of assisted suicide, and a bill has been introduced that would give people the right to take their own lives with a doctor’s help.
Mok argues that saying assisted suicide and euthanasia should be legal for people who are sick or disabled is blatant discrimination. “I think it’s not the Government’s role to say who is eligible to live or die,” he said. “If it is the choice of the individual, then it shouldn’t be limited to people with severe illness or disability.” He opposes the End of Life Choice Bill, and wants people to know that every life is worth living. “I don’t want to die because I have learnt more about the beauty of life.”