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Assisted Suicide/Voluntary Euthanasia

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16 replies to this topic

#1
Vesper

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New debate....

Question:
If a terminally ill person decides that they wish to end their life, is it acceptable for others to assist them?

This process would normally take the form of a doctor administering a lethal injection, which would end their life painlessly. A clear distinction must be made with involuntary euthanasia, by which someone is ‘put down’ against their wishes, and which is simply murder by another name.

In the United States, Dr Jack Kervorkian – nicknamed ‘Doctor Death’ – has been campaigning for a change in the law for many years, and has assisted in the suicide of at least forty-five people; he was recently found guilty of second degree murder and imprisoned after a widely publicised trial. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, voluntary euthanasia has been legal since 1983, with some three thousand people requesting it each year. In Australia, assisted suicide was legalised in the Northern Territories, but was then overthrown by the Federal Senate before anyone could actually use the new law. In Switzerland the Dignitas Clinic assists a great many people to kill themselves each year, including many who travel for that specific purpose from countries where assisted suicide is illegal.

(Taken from various sources)


Pros

- Every human being has a right to life, yet with that right comes a choice. The right to speech does not remove the right to remain silent for example.

- Those in the final stages of a horrific disease be it mental or physical and may eventually lose the essence of themselves either through lose of mental capacity or through coma-inducing pain medication. The right to die to with dignity is also implicitly theirs.

- Suicide is not a crime, nor is the attempt to commit it. It is, however, illegal for someone to help a terminally ill person to die, this is cruel because some of those who would commit suicide themselves are no long able to.

- Suicide is a lonely, desperate act, carried out in secrecy and often as a cry for help. The impact on the family who remain can be catastrophic. By legalising assisted suicide, the process can be brought out into the open. In some cases, families might have been unaware of the true feelings of their loved one; being forced to confront the issue of their illness may do great good, perhaps even allowing them to persuade the patient not to end their life. In other cases, it makes them part of the process: they can understand the reasons behind their decision without feelings of guilt and recrimination, and the terminally ill patient can speak openly to them about their feelings before their death.

- At the moment, doctors are often put into an impossible position. A good doctor will form close bonds with their patients, and will want to give them the best quality of life they can; however, when a patient has lost or is losing their ability to live with dignity and expresses a strong desire to die, they are legally unable to help. To say that modern medicine can totally eradicate pain is a tragic over-simplification of suffering


Cons

- There is no comparison between the right to life and other rights. When you choose to remain silent, you may change your mind at a later date; when you choose to die, you have no such second chance. Participating in someone’s death is also to participate in depriving them of all choices they might make in the future, and is therefore immoral.

- Those who commit suicide are not evil, and those who attempt to take their own lives are not prosecuted. However, if someone is threatening to kill themselves it is your moral duty to try to stop them. You would not, for example, simply ignore a man standing on a ledge and threatening to jump simply because it is his choice; and you would definitely not assist in his suicide by pushing him. In the same way, you should try to help a person with a terminal illness, not help them to die.

- Demanding that family take part in such a decision can be an unbearable burden: many may resent a loved one’s decision to die, and would be either emotionally scared or estranged by the prospect of being in any way involved with their death. Assisted suicide also introduces a new danger, that the terminally ill may be pressured into ending their lives by others who are not prepared to support them through their illness. Even the most well regulated system would have no real way to ensure that this did not happen.


(Pros and Cons adapted from a debating website)


What are your thoughts?
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#2
Trotsky

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Cons

1. There is no comparison between the right to life and other rights. When you choose to remain silent, you may change your mind at a later date; when you choose to die, you have no such second chance. Participating in someone’s death is also to participate in depriving them of all choices they might make in the future, and is therefore immoral.

2.Those who commit suicide are not evil, and those who attempt to take their own lives are not prosecuted. However, if someone is threatening to kill themselves it is your moral duty to try to stop them. You would not, for example, simply ignore a man standing on a ledge and threatening to jump simply because it is his choice; and you would definitely not assist in his suicide by pushing him. In the same way, you should try to help a person with a terminal illness, not help them to die.

3. Demanding that family take part in such a decision can be an unbearable burden: many may resent a loved one’s decision to die, and would be either emotionally scared or estranged by the prospect of being in any way involved with their death. Assisted suicide also introduces a new danger, that the terminally ill may be pressured into ending their lives by others who are not prepared to support them through their illness. Even the most well regulated system would have no real way to ensure that this did not happen.


1. That is as nonsensical as saying surgery could never be ethically performed because a person under anesthesia loses their ability to back out of the surgery once they have been put under. Many choices are irrevocable, something doesn't have to be a life/death choice for its results to be permanent. A person has as much right to make an irreversible choice as they do to make any other choice. Also, willing rejection of a right does not interfere with a right.

2. In the case of a man on the ledge metaphor, with a terminal illness, the person is mid-fall. Also, emotional and physical reasons for suicide are not comparable. Further, a little cultural relevancy is required here - suicide is more a taboo in the West than the rest of the world. Our greatest obligations to others is not to guard their pulse but to render on to them empathy and kindness. Finally, the entire argument used to dissuade is emotional suicide is "your quality of life can improve", and with terminal illness, that simply is not the case.

3. Families unwilling to care for their ailing loved ones already exist in the form of those who abandon them to nursing homes and seldom care to be present. Also, can an average person really imagine a typical family who is burdened telling their loved one that they should consider assisted suicide?

Also, I think I have expressed my feelings towards Kevorkian and my resentment that a man who deserves a Nobel prize wound up with a prison term instead, and I re-emphasize what I said when he was released - the man is a fucking hero.

My feelings on this subject are particularly strong and based on multiple occasions of witnessing suffering. My late grandmother who was always a very much religious Catholic even said once that dying animals get better treatment than dying humans, and that is 100% true. The right to die is as sacred as the right to life, and without it, the phrase "right to life" has a permanent asterisk tainting its universal value.
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#3
Zero.

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I really think it should be legalised (Under strict rules of course). For those who are terminally ill and have no chance of survival or being able to leave the hospital it seems fair if they request it. It's a big decision to be made but sometimes it might be seen as the best decision. This may seem extreme for most but even for emergency victims who become brain dead or can never heal from significant injuries (And will eventually die) it might be the better thing to do. It's seems harsh, but if they have no chance of life and family consent it would be better to end their life painlessly instead of being morphed up until they eventually pass away. This can also provide another hospital bed for a person who has a chance of survival. Like I said before it seems harsh and I wouldn't want anyone to be put in such a position, it's such a difficult decision to make, but sometimes it could be the better decision.

#4
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I am all in favour of voluntary euthanasia in case of terminal ilnesses. It's only fair and humane to help people who want to die because they are in insufferable pain or have no hope for improvement and don't want that future. Or just to help people who have had their live, feel it's completed and want to stop with it because they're tired. I think the right to live is inseparable with the right to die.
As such, I am also in favour of assisted suicide. There is an (illegal) organasation in the Netherlands that assists people in suicide, in a system that's really good in my opinion. You have to be a member for three months or something before help becomes even available so you won't make a rash decision. There is a psychologist to talk to you and your family is part of it too, so they can try and understand why you want to commit suicide and hopefully be at peace with it, eventually, and so you really get to make sure it's what you want. It also makes for a more graceful way to die and much less traumatizing for your family because they don't have to find you and get the shock of their lives (and it's also less problems for everyone if people don't jump off bridges or in front of trains anymore, harsh as it sounds).

So in short I think it should be available to everyone to die and be helped in that, but it should not be treated lightly and there should be measures to keep people from making rash decisions. And it should be handled by professionals.

This isn't all I have to say on this subject, but typing on an iPad sucks.

#5
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The only reason it would have to be assisted is because the person is too weak to do it themselves. So basically, getting sick to the point of frailty = also losing the right to your own body, as of now.

WTF.

#6
Peace and Rainbows

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I have always been for doctor assisted sucicide. As an human being I feel that if you aren't having the quality of life that you had before and you want to end it, as long as it's your opnion than a doctor should be able to help you with that

#7
gmcloughlin

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I'm definitely for it. Having watched someone I loved go through a terminal illness when all he wanted was for it to end so he wouldn't suffer anymore, I'll always be for it.

#8
MrsBillieJoe95

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I have a feeing that this is what that one Simpsons episode was about lol.

Well......This is my view on the situation.
I'm neutral on whether it should be legal or illegal. I believe that if it were to ever become legal, that it would have to be monitored very carefully (much as someone said already) and only offered under extremely specific situations. If someone is terminally ill and is suffering with absolutely no chances of survival, then I would have to say that they should be able to say that they don't want to have to suffer anymore. At the same time, a suicide is a suicide- no matter the form, and I think if someone is to the point of wanting to end their life, they should be helped out in getting to a better state.

#9
Daughter.of.Rage.and.Love

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I view it this way: I don't think legalizing suicide and assisting with it is going to increase the amount of suicide attempts. Because even if the way it's done is much more preferable, the result is still the same: ending your life. Improving the circumstances around suicide isn't going to make it a more attractive thing. And because there is an incubation period, excuse my awful and potentially offensive phrasing, it won't accomodate rash decisions. There's also the psychological assistance which is focused on helping the person, with their problems in whatever way but not in a condemning suicide way, they wouldn't have stepped to a helping organisation if they weren't suicidal to being with. Having that in mind, when someone is going to attempt suicide, I think in any case it's better that it happens in a regulated, safe environment in the best possible psychological conditions for all involved.

#10
Hedwig

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- Suicide is not a crime, nor is the attempt to commit it. It is, however, illegal for someone to help a terminally ill person to die, this is cruel because some of those who would commit suicide themselves are no long able to.


Suicide is actually illegal in Sweden. WTF.

#11
.katie.

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I remember learning about euthanasia a few years ago in school, and it's always been a debate that interests me. Personally, I don't see why it shouldn't be legalised. But, as someone said above, under strict rules. If someone is terminally ill with no chance of survival and decide they want to end their own life, I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be allowed to do so. They obviously don't want to spend the remainder of their life suffering in pain, with family and friends having to watch them go through with it.
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#12
Dirntbag

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If the victim can talk, they should talk to a therapist, if their mind is still made up, respect their wishes.

if any of you are around if i ever become a vegetable, please-PLEASE- pull the plug for me, i would rather die than live a life of permanent idleness.

#13
Billie Hoe is my hero

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I think it should be legal, if a person is terminal (not completely sure if that's spelled/used correct =/). I've seen so many people at the hospital lying there, in pain, for weeks just waiting to die. People should be able to leave this world with more dignity than that.

#14
fiercecircus

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short thought on the subject: Yes.

As someone who has seen things die almost on a daily basis for the last ten years: dying sucks. Dying is painful. The death and failure of organs is painful. We are lucky that we are able to end our pets' suffering in this country. I wish we could end our human family members' suffering.

And yes, i had a (young) friend die of cancer a few years ago. It was horrific. It was basically a combination of starving to death/being suffocated/growing a giant tumor in her abdomen. And yes, it was painful. Not to say that a person shouldn't fight for their life but once that has been exhausted and there is NO hope... let them have an end to suffering.
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#15
Vesper

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How would it be regulated though?

We're all pretty much in agreement that someone should have the right to take their own life if their terminally ill, because it's their choice to make. How would such a process be regulated, to make sure people weren't dying against their wishes?

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#16
Daughter.of.Rage.and.Love

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Doctors need to follow certain rules to make sure it's what the patient wants, there needs to be a second opinion by an approved doctor who is allowed to judge euthanasia cases so no mistakes get made. I think doctors in general should have a good relationship with the patient, even more so in a case like this, so s/he (gonna go with he from now on, is easier) knows the patient well and knows their wishes. It should also be made sure and confirmed later by the patient when they are fully aware and conscious that it really is their wish to die. This should also be recorded on paper or recorded in another way so it can be proven that it was the patient's wish. Maybe there should also be a committee to go over every euthanasia case who need to to give the green light before performing euthanasia, or one who checks it after the patient has died, so doctors can't just do it and need to go through the whole procedure in order not to be prosecuted (not because I want doctors prosecuted, but as a means of giving the legal procedure of checking and confirming the patient's wishes significance). It should be a system that's not one bureaucratic mess though, it should work and be able to process euthanasia requests in little time (say, a month or two).

Pretty much describing the Dutch euthanasia system now with the addition of some of my opinion.

I hope I covered everything?

Now I'm getting ads for a book about euthanasia.
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#17
Vesper

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I don't know, if I was a doctor, I'd want to get involved with a patients wish to end their own life. I think that's down to the family and to the patient, because as a doctor you'd see to many cases like that and if you become too involved - too much can be pinned on you....?



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