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Euthanasia/ Assisted Suicide (Revised Title)

 
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 10:22 am
Oh, since obviously age, experience etc might be a point here:

- my father had been for a decade the leadin physican of a hospital for elderly, who couldn't stay in regular hospitals anymore but where to ill to live on their own or in a senior residence,
- have a blind and heavily handicapped (by spastics) sister.in-law,
- have been the leading social worker for two homes and a couple of groups for handicapped persons,
- take care of my mother (demencia) and her sister (depression)

.... and I'm a teeny-weeny bit younger than Lola.
0 Replies
 
Gelisgesti
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 10:25 am
Foxfyre wrote:
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?


He decided to pull his attorneys' off the case because if they were succesful in changing the death sentence to life, someting that was quite possible, he would have to live his life out in prison .... a place he had called home for the better part of his life to that point.
He went to court against the people opposing the death penality on his behalf, and won.
The cold hard reality is that euthanasia is a mercy killing .... he could not face life in prison. Terri's prison was one of flesh.
My point is adressing the disparity in determining what is decided and who decides.
Your issue is semantical in nature and as such is non contributary.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 10:38 am
Walter writes
Quote:
Oh, since obviously age, experience etc might be a point here:


I think Lola and I are pretty much agreed that age is not a factor here. But with all your experience, where do you stand on the issue of euthenasia, Walter?
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 11:09 am
To be honest: I have no opinion which could descibe my stand in generalis.

(One of the reasons is certainly German history.)
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Lady J
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 12:11 pm
Walter Hinteler wrote:
I would be interested what you (or better: who) considers, what a "meaningful" life is.


I prefer the "who" part better for some reason and I don't know that there can be any true definition to "meaningful life"

Case in point....Stephen Hawking. World renowned Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. Incredibly brilliant! But this man has, for the last 41 years of his life lived with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) aka Lou Gehrig's Disease, a slow, yet non painful wasting and degeneration of the brain and spinal cord. The motor cells (neurones) control the muscles that enable us to move around, speak, breathe and swallow. With no nerves to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste. Its symptoms may include muscle weakness and paralysis, as well as impaired speaking, swallowing and breathing. In most cases it does not affect intellect, memory or the senses.

Progress is relentless and generally rapid, with a life expectancy of between two and five years from the onset of symptoms. How Professor Hawking has managed to survive for 41 years after being diagnosed at the age of 22 still amazes me.

Setting his mental ability aside for a moment, to look at this man, you would simply see a very, very physically wasted human being, unable to breathe, unable to eat, unable to speak, unable to move on his own, except for eye contact.. Again, setting his mental ability aside, it doesn't look like a very meaningful life, does it?

But once we factor in his incredible mind and intelligence, which is never lost with those with ALS, all of a sudden his life becomes more meaningful. He is a contributor to mankind and to science. Are those other folks with ALS, who do not have so much to contribute, less meaningful? Would we pull the plug so to speak , on them? Vital brain, completely destroyed body that can absolutely nothing for themselves.

Or do we simply wait out the 2 to 5 years with these other folks, thinking they might die within that time frame. And what if they don't? Surely each of them has thoughts on how they would want their own lives to end, but without the technology that Professor Hawking has at his disposal, to electronically speak and make his voice heard, I know many ALS patients at some point will either die on their own or be disconnected by loved ones who believe they are acting in the best interest of the ALS patient.

I would like to think the person afflicted would be able to decide for themselves, although I know first hand that this is not the case.

I don't know that there can be or ever will be a collective agreement on what constitutes a meaningful life.

I guess I had no relative contribution to your statement after all, Walter. Sad
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 12:36 pm
I would recommend a book Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America by Wesley J. Smith for all who are searching for answers on this thread.

Quote:
I have had motor neurone disease for practically all my adult life. Yet it has not prevented me from having a very attractive family, and being successful in my work. This is thanks to the help I have received from Jane, my children, and a large number of other people and organisations. I have been lucky, that my condition has progressed more slowly than is often the case. But it shows that one need not lose hope. -- Stephen Hawkings

http://www.hawking.org.uk/text/disable/disable.html
0 Replies
 
Lady J
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 01:27 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
I would recommend a book Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America by Wesley J. Smith for all who are searching for answers on this thread.

Quote:
I have had motor neurone disease for practically all my adult life. Yet it has not prevented me from having a very attractive family, and being successful in my work. This is thanks to the help I have received from Jane, my children, and a large number of other people and organisations. I have been lucky, that my condition has progressed more slowly than is often the case. But it shows that one need not lose hope. -- Stephen Hawkings

http://www.hawking.org.uk/text/disable/disable.html


Exactly...his life has been exceptional. No one would or could EVER imagine "unhooking" Professor Hawking. What about your average Joe or Jane in an average life, with an average job, a spouse and kids. How many "large numbers of other people and organisations" do you think would be rushing to help those less fortunate than Professor Hawkins?

Should ones "meaningful life" be dicated by what we know, who we know, what our contributions to society have been or how much money we have?
0 Replies
 
Lady J
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 01:28 pm
And thank you for the book recommendation, Foxfyre! Smile I appreciate that and will check it out. Smile
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 01:44 pm
You're welcome Lady J and thanks for remembering Stephen Hawkings. There are blurbs allover Blogsville out there saying the same judge that ordered Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed would also do the same to Hawkings. (Some say he has). I don't know whether that is the case at all, but Stephen is given opportunity to directly communicate his wishes even though he can no longer speak. Schiavo was never given that opportunity by the courts even though those closest to her said she was trying to communicate.

I wasn't there so can't say what she felt, thought, or was or was not trying to communicate. Neither can any of the rest of those who weren't there know that, including the judges. With no written directives, I can't see taking the word of the one person who was seeking her death for the wishes of a person we have no way of knowing.

I do not want our medical profession, our country, our Congress, our judges, or anybody assuming the right to decide whether an innocent person shall live or die. And if the person is capable of living with no more assistance than what any person needs (i e. food and water) to live, I do not want any of these to make it an ordinary thing to order that a person be killed.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 01:53 pm
This resource is an interesting survey of selected internet resources on euthanasia with links to "Court Decisions", "Legislative Information", "Other Basic Documents Relating to Euthanasia", "Statistical Information", "Web Sites Relating to Euthanasia", "Links to NPR's Talk of the Nation", "Litterature" etc etc.

(Unfortunately not recently updated.)
0 Replies
 
Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 02:44 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
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.


Well said!

From the time that I was a little girl, I have loved Star Trek. I especially loved Star Trek: The Next Generation. There was one episode in particular that I remember because it went far beyond simply entertaining me. It caused me to stop and think about how our society will progress as an increasing percentage of our population grows older. How will we address the challenges that an aging population brings? Will we impose upon them a strong sense that they are living only half a life and impose upon them a duty to end their lives in order to spare society the responsibility of caring for them?

How will our society resolve the challenges we face? The fictional world of Kaelon II came up with "The Resolution" to spare society from the burdens of caring for the elderly.

Quote:
Half A Life
Production 196
5/6/91
Stardate 44805.3

Synopsis:

Troi's mother fights to stop her lover from participating in the ritual suicide mandated by his society.

While a passenger aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, Troi's overly-amorous mother Lwaxana becomes infatuated with Dr. Timicin of the planet Kaelon II. The rather reserved Timicin, a leading scientist who has enlisted the Federation's aid in saving his planet, is equally smitten with Lwaxana, and the two begin spending time together.

Timicin has boarded the Starship Enterprise to test an experiment that he hopes will revitalize the dying sun of Kaelon II. The U.S.S. Enterprise assists him by transporting him to a similar sun in a remote region of the galaxy where the scientist can test his theories. With the help of the crew, Timicin fires photon torpedoes into the surrogate sun in an effort to elevate and stabilize the temperature. At first, the experiment seems successful, but the sun's temperature continues to rise to dangerous levels, forcing the starship to evacuate the region and return to Kaelon II. Later, when even the charming Lwaxana is unable to comfort the defeated Timicin, he confides to her that he is returning home to die.

Soon afterward, Lwaxana marches into Picard's office, outraged by Timicin's revelation that he will soon participate in a ritual suicide known as The Resolution. The ritual calls on all citizens of Kaelon II to kill themselves upon reaching the age of 60 in order to eliminate the society's responsibility of caring for the elderly. Lwaxana likens the ritual to murder but Picard refuses to intervene since the problem is out of his jurisdiction.

Unable to sway Picard, Lwaxana focuses on Timicin, urging to stand up to the arbitrary Resolution. She begs him to take the first step toward changing the policy by publicly rejecting the ritual. Timicin initially refuses her request, but reconsiders when he discovers how close his research has brought him toward saving his planet's sun. With this in mind, he asks Picard to grant him asylum aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Picard agrees, nearly launching the U.S.S. Enterprise into war by incurring the outrage of the people of Kaelon Two. The planet's science minister insists that Timicin return at once, dispatching warships and ordering them to fire on the U.S.S. Enterprise if the ship attempts to leave the area with Timicin. Timicin remains firm, however, until is daughter Dara transports aboard and pleads with him to accept his heritage -- the heritage he taught her. The request touches Timicin and he agrees to return home to die among his loved ones. Since Lwaxana is now a loved one, she swallows her pain and disappointment and transports down to the planet with him, to witness his final Resolution and give her support to his decision.


Is it truly an individual's decision with respect to the "right to die" that society is honoring? or are we, as a society, placing pressure upon our loved ones to go quietly and with "dignity" in order to spare us from the burdens they would otherwise pose? What will "The Resolution" be for America?
0 Replies
 
au1929
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 03:40 pm
I belong to a senior citizens mens club. Most members are in their 70's and 8o's. I made a copy of a living will for one of the members. Upon hearing about it almost to a man everyone who did not already have one requested a copy. I should note my wifes friends did the same. The fact is that not one no matter how old wanted to continue to live as Schaivo has.
Foxy wrote
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

Is there? In cases like Schaivo it is evident that the hope is for a quick death.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 03:45 pm
I think Au, that the issue is not what decision we would make for ourselves. This entire discussion for me drew a sharp distinction between 'the right to die' and 'euthenasia'. They are not the same thing.

A very different criteria comes into play, and it always should err on the side of life, when we are making a decision for another person.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 03:52 pm
I believe we should err on the side of mercy and generosity, and not our own selfish desires and personal feelings of need and guilt.

3 of the first 4 options reflect that view.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 03:54 pm
Foxy

Is it reasonable to assume that someone without a living will in Schaivo's condition would choose to die? All those people who are now filling them out would bear witness that the would.
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Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 04:14 pm
Au:

Every individual who chooses to execute a living will in the presence of two disinterested witnesses is entitled to have that document serve as clear and convincing evidence of his/her intent to either choose life-sustaining care or to refuse life-sustaining care.

I would also make sure that their decisions are based on informed consent with respect to the differing types of life-sustaining care that they are choosing or refusing.

I've had elderly clients execute living wills wherein they refuse extraordinary and heroic measures; wherein they refuse to be kept alive by machines that would breathe for them or keep their hearts beating . . . but wherein they choose to continue hydration and nuitrition. Although there are some folks who do not want their chests cracked opened to have their hearts shocked or do not want to be kept alive by a respirator; there are numerous folks who do NOT want to be dehydrated or starved to death.

For those who do not execute a living will, it will never be reasonable or acceptable to assume that they would choose to die.
0 Replies
 
au1929
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 04:38 pm
Debra_Law wrote

Quote:
For those who do not execute a living will, it will never be reasonable or acceptable to assume that they would choose to die.


I believe it is unreasonable to accept that anyone would want to survive under the same conditions as Terri Schaivo.

Is there anyone here that would? Regarding the need for a living will this case has been a wakeup call.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 05:56 pm
Shiavo didn't have a living will. And those closest to her who had no motive other than love for wanting her to live believed she wanted to live. What you think you would want is totally different than making a decision for somebody else.

I do not believe anyone has the right to make a decision like that for somebody else. For certain I cannot accept that anyone can make a decision for somebody else to die a slow tortured death via dehydration.
0 Replies
 
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 08:41 pm
I'd like to make a point out of two things

1) Stephen Hawking's condition and Terri Schaivo's are nothing alike, except that both of their bodies are worthless. Hawking has higher brain activity, an EEG would show this. Terri Schaivo does not. To say that we should keep Terri alive because Hawking's body and Terri's body are both worthless doesn't make any sense. If Terri had higher brain activity then this would never have been a discussion.

2) A respirator allows someone to breathe who cannot breathe. A feeding tube allows someone to eat who cannot eat. Both are equally artificial. A person cannot live without air and a person cannot live without food/water. So the argument that it's ok to take someone off a respirator but not ok to take a feeding tube out isn't logical. Yes, Terri needs food and water to live, but Delay's father needed oxygen to live. I might be missing something, but they both seem equally important to me. So people who have a problem with one, should have a problem with both. Someone said that they couldn't allow some to die a slow tortured death via dehydration, but how could you allow someone to die a tortured death via asphyxiation.
0 Replies
 
Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 10:37 pm
I think euthanasia on demand is the way to go, for all the same reasons that abortion on demand (within given limits) is also right.

Because any idiot can find a way to acheive either of these things WITHOUT the protection of medicine and law if they are determined to do so.

Why should a relative or a doctor be charged with murder when they do the "right" thing in such situations?

It happens all the time, let's stop pretending it doesn't and deal with it properly.
0 Replies
 
 

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