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Euthanasia/ Assisted Suicide (Revised Title)

 
 
Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 11:43 pm
Wow Eorl. Let's air lift the elderly and the disabled to Northern Alaska and place them in the care of Eskimo mercy care workers where upon the elderly and the disabled can be dispatched to the nearest ice floe and set adrift. I understand that freezing to death is a pleasant way to go . . . you just go to sleep and nature take its course.
0 Replies
 
Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 11:46 pm
Huh?

Why would the elderley and disabled request that?

And if they did....why should we not?
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Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2005 12:24 am
Oh I get it.

Sorry Debra, I should have been more clear that I was speaking of assisted suicide euthanasia "on request" of the patients themselves.
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Gelisgesti
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2005 06:31 am
There is another view ......... beyond the acceptable realm of "normalcy".

Quote:
Published on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
No; It's Not About Terri Schiavo Anymore
by Mary Johnson

No; it's not about Terri Schiavo. And it hasn't been for quite awhile.

It's about us.

It's about each of us who thinks "I wouldn't want to live if I were a vegetable." It's about each one of us who thinks, as one blogger wrote, that Michael Schiavo has been "chained to a drooling shitbag for 15 years."

But it's also about those of us who are those vegetables, those drooling shitbags. Those of us who want to live but know we're a burden to our families. Those of us who fear "do not resuscitate" orders. Those of us who use ventilators, and who use feeding tubes. And those of us who can communicate with clarity only through artificial means.

How can the two groups of us -- those of us who live with severe disabilities, and those of us who fear such a fate more than death -- come to some common ground?

I was recently sent an email from the man who used to read our magazine onto cassettes for blind people. The man, a Vietnam vet paralyzed in that useless war, now cannot speak without a battery operated vibrator. "I sound like R2D2 from "Star Wars,' " he wrote.

Just yesterday a listserv that I frequent was holding a discussion of the type of feeding tube Terri Schiavo had. A number of the folks talking about it were comparing their own feeding tubes to hers.

This is what the Terri Schiavo circus is all about. We may think it's about political posturing -- and it is that, for sure. But it's about those of us who have scary, messy disabilities, and the fears of the rest of us.

The Texas Futile Care Law, which George W. enacted, gives hospitals the right to cut off life support. The progressive blogs are full of the story of the baby pulled off life support under that legislation this past week, against his mother's wishes. But futile care acts are in place in many states -- so common they aren't even controversial. Are we only upset about them when we see them used against a member of what we see as a traditionally oppressed group, and enacted by a man whose policies we detest? States with liberal governors have futile care policies in place as well. The disability rights movement has been worried about futile care policies for quite awhile -- but nobody else took notice. Until now.

Those who bring up the Texas dead baby story want to make the point that the Republicans are two-faced, but we didn't need a dead baby to figure that one out.

There isn't a single disability rights activist I've heard from who is happy that things ended up at such a sorry pass, and who isn't afraid that this will make liberals hate them even more than they now do. Yet it cannot help being noticed that it generally depends on whose ox is being gored as to what side of the states' rights debate one comes down on. We're all for federal laws when it comes to things like civil rights -- and gay marriage. We're not, though, when it comes to things we've labeled as "right to die" -- which we say are "privacy issues."

We might want to take another look at the cost of such privacy.

The disability rights movement I cover is made up of individuals who themselves are living lives that they may not have been able to previously imagine. Individuals who can communicate only via technology -- who, without today's computers, might very well be thought to have little or no cognitive ability. Several of these people, in fact, contribute regularly to Ragged Edge Online. There are people who have experienced aphasia. There are people with brain injuries.

To these people, the case of Terri Schiavo looks very different.

They are particularly angered by the belief that Michael Schiavo knows what Terri Schiavo wants. "We didn't know what Terri wanted," Michael Schiavo told Larry King on Friday. "But this is what we want."

This isn't about Terri Schiavo anymore.

On New Year's Eve a few years back, 74-year-old Shirley Harrison's husband came into the hospital where she'd been brought after having a stroke. He shot her three times in the chest. News media reported it as a "mercy killing."

Three weeks after Nancy Draper's body was found in the freezer of their home, husband Larry Draper turned himself in to police, saying he killed his wife to end her suffering from multiple sclerosis. He received a reduced sentence.

Joseph Brosz, 84, apparently bludgeoned to death Sylvia Brosz, 56, described as his "mentally and physically disabled daughter."

And we all remember Jack Kevorkian, and those who thought the man was doing good. Many of us still think that.

Villanova University history professor Mine Ener used a 12-inch kitchen knife to slice the throat of her daughter, 6-month-old Raya Donagi, who had Down syndrome. Firefighters responding to a house fire in Elwood, Indiana found the burned body of 8-year-old Mark Adrian Norris II. Autopsy results confirmed that Mark, who had cerebral palsy and epilepsy, had actually died the day before -- of malnourishment and neglect. His mother was not charged with murder.

And in England last month, the news was full of the trial of military security specialist Andrew Wragg, who told police he killed his 10 year old son, Jacob, because he was frustrated that his son was no longer able to recognize and communicate with him. Jurors were told he was embarrassed at having a son with a disability.

Yesterday's Ukiah (CA) Daily Journal reported that elder abuse is on the rise - reports of elder abuse rival those of spouse abuse. And families are responsible for most of the deaths of disabled people who are dead by unnatural means.

Although it's hard for us to get beyond the political posturing, get beyond it we must.

It is absolutely true that mounting a Congressional circus was not the right way to go about resolving the problems with Terri Schiavo. But that this is a private matter to be resolved within families? That is just as troubling.

The Republicans, to my way of thinking, are likely guilty of everything we say about them. I even agree with Michael Schiavo that Tom DeLay is a "little slithering snake." But to simply yell about the Republicans, to turn this into yet another skirmish in the right-to-life, right-to-die culture wars is to miss entirely the bigger issue.

The danger faced by "incapacitated" or non-communicative persons -- people who have been declared "incompetent" and their legal rights assigned to a "guardian" -- has been worrying disability rights activists for years. It is not about the "right to life" -- it is about equal protection of the law. Over a dozen national disability groups have repeatedly urged Constitutional review of cases like Schiavo's . It doesn't happen. If it had happened with Schiavo, we wouldn't be at this sorry pass.

Now Sen. Tom Harkin (D.-IA), a man with impeccable liberal credentials, is proposing such a law. Not for Terri Schiavo, but for the rest of us.

"In a case like this, where someone is incapacitated and their life support can be taken away, it seems to me that it is appropriate -- where there is a dispute, as there is in this case -- that a federal court come in, like we do in habeas corpus situations, and review it." Harkin told reporters he was hopeful that Congress would address such legislation sometime soon.

It's past time.
0 Replies
 
Gelisgesti
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2005 10:14 pm
Pretty stark isn't it? It's reality is echo'ed by the silence on this thread ...
I only meant to bring meat to the discussion .... not end it.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 06:51 am
Walter wrote:
I would be interested what you (or better: who) considers, what a "meaningful" life is.


I think that the answer is relative, and varies with each individual. In this thread, Stephen Hawking was brought up. In no way, would I consider him a person who anyone would even consider appropriate for euthanasia. He has a rich mental life, and is obviously enjoying his life.

Contrast that with a person in Hawking's position physically, who is miserable, depressed, and gets no enjoyment out of life, only frustration. I think that a person like that should certainly be able to say, "enough is enough".

I think that when I wrote this thread, I should have characterized it as euthanasia and/or assisted suicide. The entire issue is so damn complex, with so many variations and contingencies.

To me, a meaningful life, is one where a person derives some pleasure out of it, on any level. Again, I will reiterate, I believe that a person is the custodian of his life, and as such, has the right to dispose of it as he chooses.

In the case of people with depression, I think that it is appropriate for the people around him to help him get over what may be a temporary "hump", even if the person says that he wants to die. If this pattern of wanting to die persists over time, and is a driving force in that person's life, I think that there is a point where the person needs to be free to do what he wants, without interference from well meaning relatives and friends.





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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 11:35 am
I just came across this thread - very interesting.

I have to leave for work in just a few minutes. Since I don't really have time to post my thoughts I'll pose a question:

When we include the brain dead with the sick and disabled don't we enter a very slippery slope regarding organ donations?

Donated organs come from brain dead people who are kept alive artificially until matches can be made, surgical teams called in, transplant recipients can be located and readied for surgery, etc.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 11:46 am
Quote:
When we include the brain dead with the sick and disabled don't we enter a very slippery slope regarding organ donations?


boomerang- IMO, once it has been determined beyond a shadow of a dooubt that a person is brain dead, I see no reason for that person to remain alive, utilizing precious resources that could be used in a more effective way.

I think that the entire area of organ donations, is one that needs to be addressed. Yes, you may want to keep a brain dead person alive until organs may be matched.

Not all brain dead individuals are suitable organ donors, though. In addition, that person would have had to give his legal permission to use his organs before the happening that led to his lack of brain functioning.
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Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 11:50 am
Organ banking and organ donations are going to be one of the hot-button issues of the next two decades. Get ahead of the curve and start reading about it now...

Cycloptichorn
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 06:09 pm
Really though, anyone who has a drivers liscense can either opt in/out of organ donation. If you're sane enough to get a liscense you're sane enough to make that decision.

At least in my state, others may be different.

So if I were in an accident or had a health emergency and I went to the hospital and they declared me brain dead they would keep my body alive long enough to make the matches (organs don't have much shelf life so they keep the body alive) then they would kill the machines, thereby "killing" me and harvest my organs.

If we're going to say that people who are brain dead are "alive" how does that effect organ donation?

It stops it in its tracks, doesn't it?

If the disabled and infirm are going to embrace the brain dead as one of their own then they should be prepared to denouce organ donation. Even organ donations that may save their own lives.

I know that not all people want to be organ donors (I don't pretend to understand this position) and I know that not all people are eligble to donate their organs. That's not the point. If we are to make our laws based on "morals" then we should just forget organ donation because the organs come from people that would be judged "living".

I read the article above about "It's not about Terri Shiavo - it's about us" and I thought how absolutely horrible. And it is.

Then I remembered the case a few months back where a guy here killed his son because the kid wouldn't use the toilet.

And I thought about the case where they caught the guy incenerating his wife's body in barrels in his backyard because she wanted a divorce and he didn't want to lose his house.

And I though of the millions of other completely stupid reasons that people kill one another.

I live in the only state in America where you're doctor can help you die and I have never heard of one single instance of the law being used to kill the elderly, disabled or infirm.

In fact, you have to be pretty damn sound but with a terminal diagnosis to use the law.

Brain death is not "incapacitated". Brain dead is dead. If your soul or self or whatever you want to call it resides in your body, it is in your brain.

But I digress.....
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Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 06:23 pm
Terri Schiavo was not brain dead.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 06:33 pm
I didn't say anything about Terri Shiavo except quote the article.

As I understand it, she was brain dead though. Just because your body functions with medical intervention does not mean that your brain is alive.

At the park yesterday some woman tried to engage me in "Terri talk" - something I've avoided even among friends.

Park woman suggested that "you do this kind of stuff in Oregon all the time" and I found myself explaining our physician assisted suicide law and how it works.

Then I asked where she was from.

"Just down the street" was her reply.

Which made me realize that even in a state where dying is a common topic - so common that we vote about it - that not many people have given it much thought.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 06:41 pm
Being kept alive on a respirator or heart machine is indeed being kept alive by machine. If the machines are turned off and your heart still beats and you can breathe on your own, it is for certain you are not brain dead. There are numerous people from ALS victims to late stage Parkinson's patients ro quadriplegics to esophaegeall surgery patients, etc. who cannot for whatever reason feed themselves the ordinary food and hydration necessary to sustain life for all living things, healthy and sick. To equate nutrition and hydration with respirators and heart machines goes way over the line in my beliefs and I think, once they think about it, in most people's beliefs.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 06:52 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
If the machines are turned off and your heart still beats and you can breathe on your own, it is for certain you are not brain dead.


Medical ethicists will tell you, if you are interested in this area of science and medicine, that the definition is not that simple. It's a very complicated area of work. I have a lot of respect for the people willing to take on the challenge there.

A close friend of mine is on the medical ethics committee of a major North American hospital. Over 30 years of education in various areas of medicine and neurology, and she wouldn't give you a "for certain" without a great deal more information.
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Gelisgesti
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 08:10 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
Being kept alive on a respirator or heart machine is indeed being kept alive by machine. If the machines are turned off and your heart still beats and you can breathe on your own, it is for certain you are not brain dead. There are numerous people from ALS victims to late stage Parkinson's patients ro quadriplegics to esophaegeall surgery patients, etc. who cannot for whatever reason feed themselves the ordinary food and hydration necessary to sustain life for all living things, healthy and sick. To equate nutrition and hydration with respirators and heart machines goes way over the line in my beliefs and I think, once they think about it, in most people's beliefs.


I'm very interested in how would you describe a late stage Parkinsons patient ... you sound knowledgable on the subject
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 08:22 pm
Yes, I am as I have lost a brother in law and a close dear friend to Parkinsons in the last two years.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 08:23 pm
Definition of brain death:
http://www.medstudents.com.br/neuro/neuro5.htm
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Gelisgesti
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 08:33 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
Yes, I am as I have lost a brother in law and a close dear friend to Parkinsons in the last two years.

You have my belated condolences. I'm more interested than ever in your definition of late stage Parkinsons as I was under the impression that Parkinsons was not a terminal disease.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 08:37 pm
Well you would be wrong Geli. According to some statistics, Parkinsons is a more common form of death among senior citizens than are automobile accidents. The two people I mentioned got to the point they could no longer swallow effectively and their breathing was compromised until they both experienced congestive heart failure. It is a cruel disease and one for which many of us are hoping fto find a cure. Many do benefit from modern treatments and can live long, productive lives with Parkinsons. And for reasons unknown the disease progresses much more rapidly in others. And there is yet no cure.
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Gelisgesti
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2005 09:15 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
Well you would be wrong Geli. According to some statistics, Parkinsons is a more common form of death among senior citizens than are automobile accidents. The two people I mentioned got to the point they could no longer swallow effectively and their breathing was compromised until they both experienced congestive heart failure. It is a cruel disease and one for which many of us are hoping fto find a cure.

I also would like to see a cure and have felt that way since 1988 when I received the diagnosis of Parkinsons disease. It is a devastating thing to be told you have a chronically progressive incurable disease. My reaction was to learn all I could about the disease process. Since my employer was a hospital I had unlimited resources for my studies. I canasure you that no one has ever died from Parkinsons. The most common cause of death is aspiration pneumonia .... drowning in your own secretions due to dysphagia or inability to swallow, a complication of Parkinsons. Without complications Parkinsons victims will die from old age, after an extended period of total paralysis of course.

Maybe I'm just cranky about people that spread disinformation underr the guise of being knowledgable.
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