On Euthanasia

Magik Quilter, in the comments from yesterday’s post, proposed that I write about the girl from Hereford who won a case in which she decided that she’d avoid getting life saving heart surgery in order to “die with dignity”, reported here by the BBC.

First of all, I think this represents a wonderful step in the right direction: a society where euthanasia will be legalized. If people have debilitating sicknesses where they’re just vegetables or fractions of what they were before their conditions (perhaps they were born that way), I think it’s important that, for the sake of the person and their friends and family, that we allow them to be put to death with their consent. It’s ultimately up to them, though the line gets blurred as we start discussing what to do when people are comatose and other conditions where they are unable to express their consent for euthanasia (I am, however hesitantly, against euthanasia in those situations). We need to get over the label of “murder” and realize that euthanizing someone is a way to put them out of their misery, again, if they have their consent. Why make them go through terrible pain and anguish if they have horrible sicknesses like ebola or the AIDS virus if we can just put them to death with their consent.

I’ll be the first person to say that I love my life and I’m scared of death, but I’d call to be euthanized if I knew death was imminent. After all, I could die on my terms then – potentially, I could die with a loved one if I so chose, rather than dying at a random time, all alone, in my sleep.

The most important part of this, if I hadn’t made it clear already, is that we need the consent of the person who we’re going to euthanize. If we don’t have that, then it is murder, and euthanasia could be a “clean” way of disposing of people in a tyrannical government (look at the cruel experiments conducted on the Jews during the Holocaust).


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  1. thebeadden

    I’m torn here. The only way I would agree is with actual consent from the person, like you said.

    But then one side of me starts thinking about coercion. Or even worse. I’ll skip the list.

    I would worry about where it would lead from there once it was allowed. How many lawyers and human rights people would start fighting for additions or amendments.

    I shouldn’t think that way. I wish I didn’t.

  2. Ah! Good catch – the possibilities of duress and coercion slipped my mind.

    Now I really don’t know where I stand.

  3. Sorry to take so long getting to this editorial Leap. Much planning and angst going on in our home as we try to come to terms with the medical situation my MIL is facing at present. My husband is preparing to fly to the UK to be with her so we will see how things go…one day at a time.

    I was kind of surprised that they accepted that young lady had the right to deny medical care in regards to a transplant but can well imagine that one cannot be forced to take those medicines and also there is the very real dilemma of making sure that donor heart is well looked after.

    The euthanasia thing is complex and I was a tad distracted when I decided to accept your challenge of an editorial topic. I think what I actually meant was…the right to refuse surgical and other interventions which will ultimately affect the quality of our lives . Should we not have the final say in our own medical care? Unless we are non compos mentis at the time, that is. This differs from Euthanasia in that one chooses to not accept medical care rather than actively planning an end
    to one’s life due to illness.

    In regard to quality of life and having a say in their own medical care the aged are especially discriminated against. Dope them up, hospitalise them, chop off their appendiges, humiliate and generally terrorise them in their latter years when they should be peacefully slumbering in their chairs in front of their fireplaces in their own homes.

    Instead…force them to sell their homes so they can afford the quality care of some aged care home where they have no individuality and certainly no say in how to manage their illnesses or how their lives are run. All the while being grateful for the Gods that are the medical profession always saying “thankyou doctor” as they mutilate their poor tired bodies.

    Rant over…thanks for the platform!

  4. thebeadden

    Leap:

    There are other options. I took care of a woman who had a living will. It stated her wishes if anything should happen to her.

    She had a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) in the event of a medical emergency. She did not want to be kept alive by any type of medical interference.

    Mind you, if one had a disease and knew they would go through a long period of suffering, even without machines to keep them alive. That wouldn’t really help.

    You could always take up skydiving? Bunjee jumping? All those things that you have always wanted to try. And if there were no accidents you sure would get a rush and some excitement in your life!

    I don’t mean to make light of the situation. I’m just saying there are other options to this.

    Magik:

    I’m so sorry about your MIL. I agree with you about how the elderly are often shoved aside when it comes to their well-being. It is so sad. There seems to be very few quality homes for them. The ones that are good, you have to be quite well off.

    When I cared for the woman above, it was because she wanted to die in her own home. She didn’t want to be stuck in a hospital or home. We were lucky that I was able to be with her. But many people just can’t afford to make that choice. They need two incomes. Many families have a hard enough time getting through life on their own. They have children that have to be taken to sports events, activities the list could go on.

    I don’t know what else to say but that I’m sorry and I’ll keep you and yours in my thoughts.

  5. Hi Bead…my MIL would love to die at home and ironically can actually afford it but we do not know if she can now as she will not be able to walk. I just got so crazed that this debacle of so called medical care happened. She served as a nurse in the Second World War….what a young adulthood she had….straight to Cairo to help the troops. It just seems wrong that this could have been allowed to happen…..she is so independant as well. I am torn whether to do a blog entry..she is such a private person about health issues.

    Leap it shows how complex the issue of euthanasia is…..where we might look on what is being done to her as barbaric if it saves her life and gives her a few more years…granted with a huge loss of independence… then euthanasia here would be the wrong thing …although in her darkest moments she may feel like it. There is the religious aspect as well in her case …she would see it as playing God and also as she is strong willed she would see it as giving up. Have never been so grateful for her stubborn ways before in twenty five years of marriage!

  6. Gah! I’m far too late to respond to these – it seems like you both have had excellent discourse.

    I chose euthanasia out of my own volition, as I wasn’t quite sure (evidently) what the topic was. Incidentally, I think my opinion is the same on the topic of refusing healthcare – we should be able to refuse treatment if we don’t think it’s acceptable or warranted. By the same token, I think that if we do refuse a treatment, we must take responsibility for our action and live with it.




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