Dr Howard Martin and the Good Old Days

The case of ex-Dr Howard Martin, who pleads humanitarian motives for his personal euthanasia initiative, will raise memories and suspicions in many people of a certain age and class background.

It is a matter of accepted family history that our venerable family doctor, Dr Llewellyn, ended the life of my grandmother with a shot of heroin. This was in the early 50’s, and my mother, a wartime nurse and St John’s veteran, gratefully accepted the practice as humane and practical, as did the rest of the family. This is not to excuse the practise, but simply to register the level of expectancy within the social class we occupied.
Like most of the Professional Classes, doctors like ours – a dead ringer for Dr Cameron from Doctor Finlay’s Casebook, with a three piece suit and gold watch chain – were held in great reverence. Their decisions were not questioned since the solutions they offered were often the most economical to a family which simply did not have the personnel or time to provide the care its old and infirm members needed at the end of their lives.
Not a million miles from the nomadic tribes who abandon their ailing members to die at the banks of whichever river they are finally unable to cross.
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