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Euthanasia/ Assisted Suicide (Revised Title)

 
 
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 06:51 am
The Terri Schiavo case has brought up the entire issue of euthanasia. I think, that for years, we have been sticking our heads in the sand, and it takes an issue like Terri's to bring in into public focus. Although I agreed with the judges rulings to butt out of the case,
I AM horrified by the way that she is obliged to die. I think that even though death by starvation will not affect a person in a PVS one way or the other, it IS traumatic to the people who love her, and in this case, to the general public. IMO, once the case was resolved, she should have been given a medication to have her drift off quickly.

The things that we need to bring out into the open and discuss freely are:

Is euthanasia ever appropriate? If not, why?

If so, when is it appropriate?

If it is appropriate, what safeguards through laws need to be put into place to ensure that there is no abuse of an individual?


This is a serious subject, with people have many differing opinions. My expectation is that the subject of this thread is treated with respect and maturity. Thanks!

P.S. This is one thread that could belong in Medical and health, Law, or Politics. I chose Politics because I think that it will receive the most coverage here.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 3,957 • Replies: 73
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 07:38 am
I do not believe there should be euthanasia upon demand. It IMO is only appropriate in cases where there is no hope of recovery and death is imminent.
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woiyo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 07:46 am
IMO, the GOVT does not belong in business of legislating HOW one wishes to "die".

I feel that so long as the legal guardian can speak for the individual through some form of proxy, or the individual can speak for themselves, the medical community should be trusted to follow through.

The only "safeguard" through legislation may be to mediate a dispute when no written proxy can be obtained. I am not sure I agree with the blanket authority a spouse has when no written proxy was created.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 07:49 am
au- So, by your statement, could I conclude that in Terri Schiavo's case, you would NOT approve of euthanasia? She was NOT in danger of imminent death, although there was no hope of recovery. Do you think that in her case, removing food and water, and having her die slowly, is a better choice than giving her a shot that would cause the death process instantly?
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Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 07:49 am
woiyo wrote:
IMO, the GOVT does not belong in business of legislating HOW one wishes to "die".

I feel that so long as the legal guardian can speak for the individual through some form of proxy, or the individual can speak for themselves, the medical community should be trusted to follow through.

The only "safeguard" through legislation may be to mediate a dispute when no written proxy can be obtained. I am not sure I agree with the blanket authority a spouse has when no written proxy was created.

I once had some connection to a case in which children asked for their father to be taken off life support, and the doctor said, "I can't do that. He's perfectly viable. I'd be arrested for murder." What if this doctor had not been responsible? The assumption that people will behave properly of their own accord is as unwarranted in this domain as it is with regard to child abuse.
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woiyo
 
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Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 07:49 am
Pronunciation: "yü-th&-'nA-zh(E-)&
Function: noun
Etymology: Greek, easy death, from euthanatos, from eu- + thanatos death -- more at THANATOS
: the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy
- eu·tha·na·sic /-zik, -sik/ adjective
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 07:53 am
Quote:
The assumption that people will behave properly of their own accord is as unwarranted in this domain as it is with regard to child abuse.


Brandon-Sad, but true. And that is why I would like to discuss safeguards against abuse, if euthanasia were legal.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 08:03 am
Phoenix32890
Quote:

au- So, by your statement, could I conclude that in Terri Schiavo's case, you would NOT approve of euthanasia? She was NOT in danger of imminent death


No. Terri Schiavo was kept alive by artificial means, if one could call her existance life, and would have died without them.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 08:19 am
I have created a poll. It is not perfect, because there are so many contingencies. I would like to get a sense though, of what people believe in this matter.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 08:21 am
I presume we are drawing a distinction between 'assisted suicide' and euthenasia here as I definitely think there is a difference. I will focus on euthenasia for now.

There is a huge difference I think between directives 'not to resuscitate' and 'no heroic measures' in the case of gravely injured or terminal patients and any measure taken that intentionally hastens a person's death. There is a huge difference between administering pain and discomfort relieving medications to a terminal patient to keep him/her comfortable even if such medications are toxic and could shorten the dying period and in administering substances that intentionally hasten a person's death.

There is further a huge difference in 'pulling the plug' on a respirator or heart machine that truly keeps a person alive by artificial means and in withholding hydration and nutrition that is necessary to all living creatures.

Where I draw the line is making decisions to euthanize people who are not dying but who are simply in a state in which they cannot speak for themselves or state their wishes. The gravely retarded, certain stroke victims, persons in a coma, persons suffering Alzheimers or other forms of dementia, or persons like Terri Schiavo who are diagnosed PVS.

In my opinion, the right to life must always supercede the right to convenience by a person or persons who think a person's life no longer has value or potential. We cannot know what medical science will be able to do later today, much less next week or next month or next year. A 'hopeless' case today may be entirely curable tomorrow. I want our doctors to be in the business of saving lives, finding cures, helping, and healing, and never be put in the position of deciding who lives and who dies.

I never want us to become a society that kills the helpless because we 'need the bed' or 'the person has no quality of life' or any other reason that can be used to cover more selfish motives. And I never want us to become a society in which a right to die becomes a duty to die.
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Gelisgesti
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 08:36 am
Hi Phoenix .... bookmarking .... got to look something up... brb
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 08:37 am
Foxfyre- I hear what you are saying, and I think that it has a lot of merit. That is exactly why I mentioned safeguards.

Quote:
In my opinion, the right to life must always supercede the right to convenience by a person or persons who think a person's life no longer has value or potential.


This is something that I really need to think through. I DO believe that there is a point where it becomes counterproductive to provide the time, money and effort to keep a person alive, if there is no hope of meaningful life. I am a bit confused at exactly where that point is.

Years ago, a person sickened, and died. Today, technology is keeping alive people who never would have survived in the past. Is this a good thing or not? I am not entirely sure that I could make a blanket statement.

I am a person who believes that each person is the "captain of his ship", and needs to decide for himself whether he wants to live or not. On the other hand, I also know that suicide is often "a permanent solution to a temporary problem". So that is why I think that there needs to be parameters when one speaks of euthanasia or even assisted suicide.
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Ethel2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 09:29 am
Quote:
In my opinion, the right to life must always supercede the right to convenience by a person or persons who think a person's life no longer has value or potential. We cannot know what medical science will be able to do later today, much less next week or next month or next year. A 'hopeless' case today may be entirely curable tomorrow. I want our doctors to be in the business of saving lives, finding cures, helping, and healing, and never be put in the position of deciding who lives and who dies.


What about the important task of helping and healing those who are left and have a life to live? Can you imagine anyone wanting their loved ones to care for them in a vegetative condition when it severely limits their loved one's ability to live whatever portion of their life they have left to live? In end of life issues, I would have to distinguish those situations in which there is some real life to live for the disabled ones, like Alzheimer patients or those suffering from dementia and those in which there is no functional life.

I also believe that in the very end stages of a terminal illness where there is no hope for recovery, a person should be able to request an lawful end to their pain and suffering.

I agree with you Phoenix. There should be laws to protect the helpless. But the living need protection as well.

The way these issues seem to line up (not in every case but usually) is that those who are interested in controlling the way others live are usually interested in what they call "the right to life." While those who recognize the value of life on this earth (rather than some other place) and the need to manage feelings through acceptance of reality are more interested in the lives of the living.

Laws are so limited in these situations because they are rules that seek objectivity. And these situations are so varied and involve people of different beliefs and desires that they do not conform well to any easy objectivity. Still we must depend on laws for the protection of everyone. This is why we have to have judges whose job it is to interpret the law when a given situation doesn't quite fit. That's the duty of a judge. It's their job description.

Life is full of difficult decisions. Some of us like to depend on a wished for set of absolute rules and some of us prefer to recognize the need to responsibly make difficult decisions, recognizing that rules are no protection against the need to interpret the law. Laws can never be the total answer because each situation is so very complex and different. Laws don't always fit.
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Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 09:34 am
Phoenix32890 wrote:
Quote:
The assumption that people will behave properly of their own accord is as unwarranted in this domain as it is with regard to child abuse.


Brandon-Sad, but true. And that is why I would like to discuss safeguards against abuse, if euthanasia were legal.

Well, apparently it is, since they just did it. But now, let's argue about semantics, which is, of course, the most important aspect of what has just happened.

The case I referred to, like that of TS, involved a decision to remove a person from medically assisted living.
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Gelisgesti
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 09:41 am
For those not familiar with the Gary Gilmore case klik Here

Gary Gilmore battled the courts for his right to choose death, even to the extent of determining the method of his execution, and won. As in Terri's battle Gary's wishes were granted even though Terri's life, IMO, after 15 years in a vegetative state, was void of all that made her Terri. While Gary was in perfect physical health, and again, IMO, the courts granted him euthanasia. In any event, the personal question of 'right to die' seems at this point to be suspended somewhere in the purview of the state of residence.
As a human being that could someday need the right to be in charge of my life, I find it completely unacceptable to be denied this basic right to choose the extent of my suffering.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 09:41 am
Lola writes
Quote:
What about the important task of helping and healing those who are left and have a life to live? Can you imagine anyone wanting their loved ones to care for them in a vegetative condition when it severely limits their loved one's ability to live whatever portion of their life they have left to live?


I'm probably older than you are Lola and thus may have more elderly relatives and have been in the position of helping to decide whether to 'pull the plug' or giving directives for 'no heroic measures' perhaps more often than you. (I cannot be sure of that of course).

Would I want loved ones to have to care for me if I was in a vegetative state? Of course not and my living will is very specific in what they will and will not do to sustain my life. But do I want my loved ones to be in the position of ordering my death when death is not imminent? No way, nor will I ever order the death of another person who, with food and nutrition, and no other life support measures, can live.

The problem in these cases is that slippery slope of a 'right to die' as opposed to a 'duty to die' so you do not inconvenience others.

And I hope reasonable laws are soon passed to make it illegal to kill people when their only crime is that they 'are no longer of any use to themselves or others' and we must decipher their wishes through a crystal ball or other psychic means.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 09:50 am
Geli, Gary Gilmore was a convicted criminal sentenced to death. All he did was tell his lawyers to stop appealing the sentence and the sentence was carried out. And you call this euthenasia?
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Ethel2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 09:58 am
Quote:
I'm probably older than you are Lola and thus may have more elderly relatives and have been in the position of helping to decide whether to 'pull the plug' or giving directives for 'no heroic measures' perhaps more often than you. (I cannot be sure of that of course).


I'm 58. How old are you? My Mom is 93 and living in a nursing home. My sisters and I care for her very well. And she is suffering from dementia......still she enjoys her life.

I have 30 years experience as a clinical social worker. I have a lot of experience with these sitiuations. So I doubt our differences have much to do with experience.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 10:11 am
Lola writes
Quote:
I have 30 years experience as a clinical social worker. I have a lot of experience with these sitiuations. So I doubt our differences have much to do with experience.


Probably not. And there are differences in perspective. My aunt, a practicing RN for more than 40 years, was squarely on the side of Michael Schiavo in Terri's case until just recently when she started looking at some of the 'evidence' that was barely or not at all presented by the mainstream media. Now she is less certain. She has often, at doctor's orders, stopped medication, heart machines, respirators, etc. But she could not have disconnected that feeding tube as much as she felt the horror of hospital wards with incapacitated people slowly wasting away.

Whatever it takes to relieve pain and extreme discomfort should be legal for all suffering patients. Death via pain and torture is much more a fear for me than is death itself. But if we must err, I will always want to err on the side of hope. And while there is life, there is always hope.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 10:16 am
Phoenix32890 wrote:
I DO believe that there is a point where it becomes counterproductive to provide the time, money and effort to keep a person alive, if there is no hope of meaningful life. I am a bit confused at exactly where that point is.


I would be interested what you (or better: who) considers, what a "meaningful" life is.
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