A STUDENT who was once nervous of public speaking delivered an impassioned speech to hundreds of delegates on a European stage.
Ripon Grammar School sixth former Robyn Kanani impressed members of the European Youth Parliament with her talk on euthanasia at the prestigious debating event in Dublin.
The 17-year-old boarding student, from Stokesley, was first selected as a Youth Parliament delegate last year when she attended St Aloysius School in Cork.
As speaker representing the EYP committee for civil liberties, justice and home affairs, Robyn’s persuasive argument ensured the motion, calling for a homogenous European-wide euthanasia policy, was voted in.
She told the hall of more than 300 people: “Our humanity thrives on the idea that we are all engifted with the right to dignity. To take this away, would but challenge what it means to be human at all. Euthanasia, although polarizing, protects this right at a time when we have little left.
“It has become incredibly obvious that our current, inadequate laws have exceeded our humanitarian values. In the end, our medical systems should serve our standards. We should not serve theirs.”
Robyn, who is taking A-levels in maths, physics, chemistry and biology and hopes to study medicine at university, said being a member of the Youth Parliament has helped develop her debating and communication skills.
“I used to be really, really shy and would never have dreamed of doing anything like this. But I wanted to join the school council when I was 12 as I thought it would be a fun thing to do.
“I had to make a speech in front of students to get elected and that’s when I began to get over my fear of speaking in public.”
After a few years of honing her debating skills, Robyn was selected for the European Youth Parliament, an educational programme which brings together young people from across Europe to debate the pressing issues of our time, aimed at equipping them with the knowledge and skills to positively shape the world around them
Robyn, who is involved in the medical society and quiz teams at Ripon Grammar School, had to undergo a rigorous three-day selection process, involving team-building exercises and committee work, during which more than 800 candidates were whittled down to a final 130.
Having spoken on a debate about how to protect jobs and workers’ rights in the face of increasing automation last year, Robyn was selected to deliver her speech on the euthanasia debate this year.
Involved in committee meetings until late in the evening over several days, she returned to her room each night to work on her talk into the early hours: “It was quite demanding,” she says.
“I am not particularly political but being able to combine two things - debating and medicine - which I feel passionate about really appealed to me. It just brought it all together.
“Working with others in committees was fascinating, I enjoyed the social dynamics of it and learning to take other people’s opinions and views into account, seeing all sides of the argument.”
*Robyn pictured in the RGS library, top, and giving her talk, above
Robyn’s speech in full:
With differing moral stances existing across Member States in relation to the legality of assisted suicide and euthanasia, what strategy should the EU pursue to safeguard patients’ rights and freedoms while promoting medically ethical practices?
Mr. President, honourable members of the board, distinguished guests and fellow delegates, our humanity thrives on the idea that we are all engifted with the right to dignity. To take this away, would but challenge what it means to be human at all. Euthanasia, although polarizing, protects this right at a time when we have little left. This being the core idea behind our resolution implores on this basis, and in acknowledging the differing moral stances on the various forms of euthanasia among Member States and their citizens as well as with medical professionals, to implement a system which protects the dignity of patients with conditions which are advanced, progressive and terminal, whereby quality of life has been irreparably reduced and/or the patient is in a state of continuous, unbearable pain, so to ensure a death of decency at a time when life is devoid of it.
Further, we, The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs note the lack of a homogenous European-wide policy on best practice of euthanasia which has led to a disparity of treatment for European citizens. And so thus we recommend the creation of a regional review system, one similar to the order currently in operation in the Netherlands which comprises of two medical physicians, a panel of Ombudsman and a legal expert. This of which sustains the common objective of fluidity among member states to ensure sufficient standards and practice across all forms of euthanasia including, but not limited to, passive euthanasia, voluntary active euthanasia, and physician assisted suicide, with the overarching purpose of maintaining patients’ dignity and warranted quality in end of life care.
Furthermore, The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs places cosmic emphasis on the importance of consent from the patient for the current procedures, with order to prevent malicious actions within medical practice. With such being pivotal in the creation of our resolution, we suggest that in the case of those who are non-responsive or in a comatose state, the decision be made by an advance directive or by a nominated power of attorney, and further recommends that in the case of a responsive patient, written and verbal consent are required in conjunction with an advance directive.
Additionally, acknowledging the legal and moral distinction between the practice of euthanasia in minors and adults, we have maintained incredible importance and care in the conservation of rights in minors, while taking great duty in preserving and enhancing the right to end of life dignity. On this basis, we declare that passive euthanasia in the case of minors under the age of 16, and in a vegetative state to be deemed appropriate when parental consent is present, and a psychological evaluation is performed and then reviewed by the regional review board.
Finally, we recognise the legal repercussions of ‘suicide tourism’ for any party accompanying a patient who is euthanised, and so thus we encourage Member States to alleviate legal repercussions from those who wish to travel with patients to assist and comfort them in their decision, as at a time of great vulnerability and sometimes desperation, we, the committee of civil liberties, justice and home affairs recognize the importance of being allowed to die comfortably, in a state of dignity, and accompanied by loved ones, in order to sustain all human rights until the very end.
The approach we have taken in writing this resolution is one that provides security for all European citizens both healthy and ill. Each holds the value that although we cannot predict the future, whatever is to come will be covered, and all rights will be maintained, for highlighting the importance of empowering freedom of choice in course of action at the end of one’s life, as a resolution to this growing and common pursuit of expanding on patients’ rights and freedoms, while promoting medically ethical practices.
Its 2020 now, and it’s time that a plan is set out in place to protect you, and everyone else as European citizens. It has become incredibly obvious that our current, inadequate laws have exceeded our humanitarian values, but the resolution we have created has kept us, and our future at best interest, on the basis of protecting our fundamental right to dignity, because in the end, our medical systems should serve our standards. We should not serve theirs. Thank you.