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Out of it...

Community Veteran
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Out of it...

A serious thread for a change. On a topic that deserves to be hopefully free of flippant comment. If a mod feels this is no place for this subject please feel free to delete it.
I was listening to a radio debate yesterday regarding the sensitive question of voluntary euthanasia (right to die) that has risen again with a person suffering locked-in-syndrome wanting to end his misery, this is evidently supported by his family.
This issue has risen several times over recent years and has generated much publicity and public sympathy. In power authorities have consistently refused legalise or free the medical profession from prosecution for being involved with "assisted suicide".
For myself, as long as the circumstances are very carefully examined on a case by case basis I must stand in favour of the "right to die" for people of sound mind where life has become intolerable due to irreversible medically substantiated conditions that render them totally reliant on their loved ones for every possible function.
I speak as someone with a largely completely disabled wife who is completely reliant on me for her every physical need (I have no wish to elaborate further) who for most of the time accepts, sometimes grudgingly, her limitations but remains for the most part her usual chirpy non-depressed self, just occasionally maybe once or twice a year she will understandably descend into a black tearful mood "wishing she were out of it all" much of this mood is related to a wish for me to not have her as "a burden" and to be able to get on with my life as normal.
Believe it or not, I made a promise;  for better or worse, in sickness and in health. There is no power on this earth that would make me even consider breaking that promise, I'm not trying to be pious and self satisfied its just the way I see it. But though, in view of what I've said above, I'm still not sure I could agree to my wife's wishes being carried out.
Strangely one thing that bothers me is the "lethal injection execution" experience in the US, where a number of times the act has been badly botched leaving the victim in considerable discomfort before expiring. While you might think that a vicious murderer might "deserve" his fate I wouldn't want that for somebody I knew very well.
And of course there is the religious argument, to which I don't subscribe, but many do.
Any comment?
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
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Re: Out of it...

Just a note - as this is a very serious question and discussion I will be really hard on any off topic or flippant posts
Community Veteran
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Re: Out of it...

Thanks Jim.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
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Re: Out of it...

Personally I find it very hard to go along with the idea of voluntary euthanasia but I can understand if someone is in constant pain.
There has to be hope some future hope that the problem can be cured/improved/made better.
I believe it is down to friends and family of those suffering to do their best to inject this hope back into someone who is considering this course of action.
But if we have to go down this route then I agree with you in that it has to be on a case by case basis.
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Re: Out of it...

I would agree with the right to die under the conditions detailed by Petlew.
In my late wife's last days she was mostly asleep but during he waking periods was under considerable discomfort eased to a certain degree by pain killing drugs.
But she was a fighter and had been much of her early life in Uganda. She would therefore not have requested termination of her life.
Not everyone has her strength of mind but she wasn't severely physically paralysed.
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Re: Out of it...

It's a very difficult subject and something I'm sure that, no matter what one's beliefs/attitudes may be, when faced with the dilemma of a loved one suffering a different set of beliefs may emerge.
Personally I am not pro euthanasia - mainly under the belief 'where there's life, there's hope'. But I haven't yet had to face such a situation.
When my father was seriously ill and dying I felt that, at 90, he was giving up after a long, healthy and, most of the time, good life. But he never expressed, to me or my mother, any wish he wanted to die. As far as I know he wasn't in any physical discomfort but his quality of life was next to nothing. I felt for him, I cried for him and there was a sense of relief (for him) when he died.
As discussed in another thread, my mother has asked me to be Power of Attorney for both Financial & Health and Welfare. Her express wish is to never have any life support turned off no matter what so I can't imagine her requesting assisted suicide. But one never knows until one is in that situation.
One thing I feel sure of - I couldn't assist in a person's suicide in any way at all and I hope that I don't have to face such anguish or anyone have to face it over me.

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Re: Out of it...

From my own point of view, I honestly believe that we, as a society, have become almost "addicted" to throwing technology at those who are unfortunate enough to have to be supported to be kept alive. This often happens to elderly people (in my case two relatives, one with a large cancer and one who had had many vascular strokes and a heart attack),and they end up in a position where it's almost a matter of the professionals taking the attitude "we must keep this person alive at ll costs". It almost seems like a professional challenge to do that.
A dignified and happy, natural, pain-free death is what I want, so if I have the choice of going early because there's no other way out, that's the way I want to go. No desperate measures for me.
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Re: Out of it...

Very difficult area, not one with a "One solution fits all"!
I have every sympathy for anyone that should find themselves in such an intolerable position but, I feel sure that as long as all available advice has been taken into consideration then, the decision will be made with the patients best interests and wishes taken aboard!
I have two kids in the graveyard - both died from a blood disorder that made them unable to fight infections etc.
From that we learned just how precious life is.
Geoff,
York.
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Re: Out of it...

I Have an odd view on this,
I am not religious and believe that anyone has a right to end their life if they reach a stage they are in constant physical pain/ severly disabled. However there will be instances where they are unable to physically do this and providing the necessary safeguards are in place to ensure that person has made the decision without any undue pressure or feelings they are doing it because they are a burden, or think they are a burden on their carer then it should be allowed.
In support of this opinion consider someone who was in constant pain/ severly disabled but had the ability to take their own life, this would not be considered a crime, it becomes a crime when someone assists in helping a person to end their life so put another way we are denying a persons right to end their life because they are unable to do so themselves.
A Hard and painful question to answer is this, despite how much a person is suffering and asking for their life to be ended are we refusing that request because we cannot bare to lose them or imagine our own life without them ? 
Razer
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Re: Out of it...

To my mind it is fundamental that everyone has the right to dictate when their own life ends (discounting events of nature, accident or other 'non-choice'). Any one or body that seeks to interfere with that right is committing the only crime. Moreover, if someone wants or needs to seek the help of another to complete their own death, that other should not be subject to the interference (by way of prosecution) by any presumed authority.
David_W
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Re: Out of it...

Sir Terry Pratchett is a wonderful writer with a mind that managed to create (among other things) Discworld, he unfortunately has altzhimers so wants to be able to end his own life with dignity before the disease ruins what is an amazing brain.  It's understandable, to go from a creative person who can draw out a story and bring it to life for his millions of fans to a person who can't remember how to do up a tie, that'll be a major transformation.  On the other hand, Prof. Stephen Hawkins has a disease which in reality should have killed him years ago but can anyone say his quality of life is so poor that it should be ended?
But, if you look at it the other way around, we legalised abortion a fair while ago, we have no hesitation in ending the life of a person not yet born, that unborn person could have turned out to be the next Einstein (or the next Hitler) but we will end that life before it's had a chance to begin.  So if we're okay with ending a life before it's started, why are we not okay with ending a life that's run it's cause and is just leaving the person suffering?  Is it because we attach a value to life?  If we allowed people to end their lives would we be saying that their life no longer has value, or would we be saying their memories to us are so valuable that we'd rather remember them "as they were" than "as they are"?
So no, there isn't an answer to this question and I don't think there ever will be an answer, whichever way we go will always be the wrong answer.
kmilburn
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Re: Out of it...

Quote from: David
Prof. Stephen Hawkins has a disease which in reality should have killed him years ago but can anyone say his quality of life is so poor that it should be ended?

As with all of these cases, the only person who has any say in the question is the person themself
The association with abortion is somewhat misleading,  but there are different issue at play.
As as been intimated elsewhere,  we wouldn't let other animals suffer to the same degree that we force people too,  but because human life is seen as special,  some will do their utmost  to prolong it for as long as possible regardless to the state or wishes of the people involved.
While I'm for some easing of the current state of affairs,  I think there should be some judicial oversight to prevent unnecessary pressure or  the effects of short term depression, etc.
Ultimately,  it's a difficult subject where you'll never got all sides to agree.
tinto
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Re: Out of it...

I think this situation has arisen through advances in medical science which have enabled the profession to ensure patients survive illnesses and accidents, both medical and physical, which not so very long ago they would not have done, yet can leave the patient with an unacceptable quality of life.  I know of an instance where a lady suffered a stroke whilst playing with her great grandchildren, and her grandson, a trained first-aider, recognised what had happened and applied cardiac massage until the arrival of an emergency paramedic, who had been close by at the time. She was then placed on a defibrillator and taken to hospital where she was given every available treatment.  She lived for about a year after, but the stroke left her paralysed and mute.  Virtually everyone who had known this lady and visited her afterwards, was convinced that her mental and emotional faculties were as acute as they'd been before the stroke, but unable to move or communicate, she was deeply unhappy, and had no wish to be alive.
Her grandson refuses to accept  he's not responsible for causing his grandmother so much grief at the end of her life, and says he doesn't know what he'd do if ever he faced a similar situation again.
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Re: Out of it...

Thank you Petlew for a really thought inspiring post.  What  a dilemma.  I think this is one of those subjects that is going to change your views every time you look at it, or life throws a spanner in your circumstances.
I have given it some thought previously, having had a cancer scare. Your mind expects the worst but you hope for the best! In my opinion, the problem with legalising it is that in the UK we tend to relax the regulations on everything we do. The concerns I have are that we could end up with people being 'executed' because they are an inconvenience or worth more dead than alive.
We are all well aware that criminals,and even just the opportunist, will exploit anything for money, particularly vulnerable and emotional people.
So for this reason, at the moment, i feel that the present situation of having it illegal here in the UK and people going abroad to have it done is the best one.  With everyone being well aware that all their motives are going to be scrutinised when they return along with a prison sentence if there is any doubt about the reasons for doing it.
In any case it is very emotive and personal.

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Re: Out of it...

I think you are probably right doris barloff in many ways. Medical science has progressed so far these days.
A few days ago, unrelated to this thread before the radio broadcast referred to in the OP, a few of us at the bowls club were discussing dementia (and I realise I'm in danger of going off-topic in my own thread) and that it seems to be reported that it is getting much more prevalent nowadays with a prediction that a large percentage of the population will be sufferers by 2025 I think the report said. That's an horrific thought
I wonder though if it is that much more common or it is simply reported more often with a "proper" name for a condition that comes to many naturally as they get older, leaving many only dimly aware they are alive or in extreme cases not aware at all, would or should "voluntary" euthanasia be then in the hands of nearest family.
We all (or most do) get a bit forgetful as we get older but this is not dementia. Medical science is able to prolong life and continues to extend it without sometimes considering that the human body often fails to keep up with scientific progress. 
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.