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starhorse
Mar. 29, 2013, 04:56 PM
I know this is a very touchy subject, but I'm curious to hear what people know about it. Overall opinions and thoughts are appreciated, but specifically:

Does anyone have any good resources for laws regarding assisted suicide for the terminally ill? I believe it is illegal in all states except Oregon, but are any states close to changing that? Are there organizations working to legalize it? What about traveling to other countries (like in the movie The Suicide Tourist)? What if a person is mentally incapacitated from a degenerative disease? Can a power of attorney make those decisions?

I did try googling, but there are so many opinions out there, it is hard to tell which sources are really reliable.

Thank you in advance for thoughts and information!

charismaryllis
Mar. 29, 2013, 05:18 PM
i have no suggestions other than--does the hemlock society still exist? maybe there's a chapter in your state?

Kate66
Mar. 29, 2013, 05:35 PM
There's a book - The Peaceful Pill Handbook

http://www.peacefulpillhandbook.com/

Doesn't address what you are asking, but I found it recently when looking for euthanasia options.

Dignitas in Switzerland offers a service, very, very highly rated, allows families to have a great deal of dignity and comfort in a difficult time.

I suspect, although don't know for sure, that a power of attorney would not allow you to make a euthanasia decision, even where it is legal.

It's an extremely difficult topic. I was very pro-euthanasia until a few weeks ago, when a doctor, who was very anti-euthanasia explained to me that it was because of his feeling that it gave doctors too much power. He agreed in helping people to have a dignified ending and making it as comfortable and peaceful as possible. He agreed in not trying to sustain life, as opposed to trying to end life. It was a different perspective that I appreciated. Unfortunately hospitals (compared to hospices) are focused on sustaining life, even if the person is terminally ill - the end result being that it just extends a miserable existence in many cases.

JGHIRETIRE
Mar. 29, 2013, 06:35 PM
I haven't found that true here in Washington.
My mom died 14 years ago. We had choices to make - we could have put her through a surgery that didn't have much of a success or survival rate or let nature take it's course. Difficult decision tho it was - we opted to just let her go as peacefully as possible.
The same was sort of true of my dad. He had an aortic aneurism they said was in-operable. He also had a bit of dementia so we opted not to tell him. The week before he died he was out dancing with his girlfriend. He went very quickly.
I like the way you put it - not trying to sustain life.
When it's your parent tho it is very hard to make those choices.



There's a book - The Peaceful Pill Handbook

http://www.peacefulpillhandbook.com/

Doesn't address what you are asking, but I found it recently when looking for euthanasia options.

Dignitas in Switzerland offers a service, very, very highly rated, allows families to have a great deal of dignity and comfort in a difficult time.

I suspect, although don't know for sure, that a power of attorney would not allow you to make a euthanasia decision, even where it is legal.

It's an extremely difficult topic. I was very pro-euthanasia until a few weeks ago, when a doctor, who was very anti-euthanasia explained to me that it was because of his feeling that it gave doctors too much power. He agreed in helping people to have a dignified ending and making it as comfortable and peaceful as possible. He agreed in not trying to sustain life, as opposed to trying to end life. It was a different perspective that I appreciated. Unfortunately hospitals (compared to hospices) are focused on sustaining life, even if the person is terminally ill - the end result being that it just extends a miserable existence in many cases.

Gestalt
Mar. 29, 2013, 06:45 PM
I don't see why that doctor thought it gives them too much power. In Oregon they will give you the drugs and then you decide if or when you will take them. A news article said something like 60% of the people did not use the drugs. But it gives them comfort knowing they could end their life if the pain and disability became unbearable.

starhorse
Mar. 29, 2013, 06:59 PM
Just curious... what stops someone from giving the pills to someone else? Can you travel to Oregon to get this, or do you have to be a resident for a given period of time?

This sounds like such a strange post, but I ask because I have a family member with Alzheimer's who has low quality of life. He is very confused to the point of frequent and violent panic, even just going from kitchen to bedroom. He often requires sedation to calm down, but has negative effects from it. He has a full-time in-home nurse and a hospice nurse one time per week, but I feel like he's being put through unnecessary pain every day. He can barely speak anymore.

I am wondering about why more options aren't available for people like him.

JGHIRETIRE
Mar. 29, 2013, 07:06 PM
Ouch - that's a slippery slope. Because he's incapacitated by Alzheimer's he's not capable of making an "informed" choice. Then who decides when the right time is.
My Dad had garden variety dementia - not alzheimers - that was bad enough.
Have you been able to find any support groups or anyone to talk to??


Just curious... what stops someone from giving the pills to someone else? Can you travel to Oregon to get this, or do you have to be a resident for a given period of time?

This sounds like such a strange post, but I ask because I have a family member with Alzheimer's who has low quality of life. He is very confused to the point of frequent and violent panic, even just going from kitchen to bedroom. He often requires sedation to calm down, but has negative effects from it. He has a full-time in-home nurse and a hospice nurse one time per week, but I feel like he's being put through unnecessary pain every day. He can barely speak anymore.

I am wondering about why more options aren't available for people like him.

LovelyBay
Mar. 29, 2013, 07:09 PM
I'm a supporter, but that's because I watched my mother die of cancer when I was a teenager. She was sick off and on for eight years, and the last few months were the worst.

starhorse
Mar. 29, 2013, 07:17 PM
Right, it's definitely complicated... which is where the power of attorney question comes in. It's kind of like the Terry Schiavo case in some ways, except that was "letting die" versus actively expediting the process.

Eventually he won't be able to feed himself, so I suppose at that point the power of attorney/health care proxy (not clear if there's a difference) could make the decision to not feed him and essentially let him starve? But that seems like such a difficult end, even on pain medication.

The person mentioned is my grandfather, so while this is not impacting me severely, it is impacting my mother quite a bit, who quit her job to care for him full-time (she's an RN), and who is adamant that this is not how he would want to live.

Seafilly
Mar. 29, 2013, 09:08 PM
http://www.finalexitnetwork.org/

This organization might be helpful. There is still a Hemlock Society in Florida; I have a friend who is involved in both groups, and has won a few court battles for their clients.

Gestalt
Mar. 29, 2013, 09:26 PM
I don't believe helping an Alzheimer patient to an early grave is the intention of the oregon law. I believe you must be of sound mind. And I personally feel that it is murder to give someone death-pills when they aren't able to decide for themselves. What about all the seriously handicapped people? Mental patients? Helping someone die is for God.

vineyridge
Mar. 29, 2013, 09:41 PM
That is, of course, if you believe in God. Otherwise, it's just cruel Nature at work.

I'm all for suicide as an honorable way to meet an unforgiving future. Which is not quite the same as euthanasia. I do believe that every person should have an equivalent of the cyanide capsule at hand.




I don't believe helping an Alzheimer patient to an early grave is the intention of the oregon law. I believe you must be of sound mind. And I personally feel that it is murder to give someone death-pills when they aren't able to decide for themselves. What about all the seriously handicapped people? Mental patients? Helping someone die is for God.

Cat Tap
Mar. 29, 2013, 09:57 PM
Where I live euthanasia is not legal however some physicians will make a patient more comfortable with morphine.

My mother, who was in her mid nineties ended up with C dif. There was no longer any quality to her life. She stopped eating and really wanted to die. I asked the nurse if we could make her a bit more comfortable and they agreed to give her some morphine. Within a few hours she passed. I was grateful as I hated watching her suffer.

fooler
Mar. 29, 2013, 10:06 PM
The problem is defining terminal or quality of life.

Harry De Leyer was diagnosed with terminal cancer and then found out his records were crossed with another patient. A number of people have been given months to live, yet lived for years.
New drugs, procedures, etc are discovered everyday. My late uncle and my BF's brother had/have their Alzheimer's slowed with medication developed in the past decade or so.

Just look at "OUR" varying opinions toward horse keeping. One person's normal is another's abuse. Now who do you want to opine on your quality of life?
Dr K went to prison because he moved away from people who were dying to someone with a chronic disease and depression. That is a example of too much power.

Doctors, nurses and lab techs are human. Therefore are prone to all of the faults of the human race. Even the best medical professional has prejudices for or against certain treatments.

inne
Mar. 29, 2013, 10:19 PM
I am 100% in support of assisted suicide. However, I also believed that the modern medical world provided people with enough drugs to often be free from pain in their final days. Then my grandmother requested to be taken off life support and I watched her dehydrate to death. They said it would take a few days, but it took 11. At first they gave her morphine, but it gave her horrible delusions - a not uncommon side-effect - that were clearly very traumatizing for her, so they had to stop. She was given some other medications but in the end her death was painful, it was agonizing, it was long, and there is no reason in the world that she should have had to endure that torture when she knew she wanted to die. Forcing her to die in that way for lack of better alternatives can only be described as cruel.

My grandmother did not have a terminal illness. She was simply frail, had limited facial control due to a series of small strokes, and had lost the ability to eat or drink on her own. It was partially due to lack of muscle control and probably also partially psychological. She would not have qualified for assisted-suicide anywhere except perhaps the Netherlands insofar as I understand the regulations and practices in various places. And even in the Netherlands I think the process takes more time than she had. Cases like hers are not a part of most conversations about the right to die.

I agree with vineyridge. People should have a right to decide when they die, whether they are terminally ill or not.

Coreene
Mar. 29, 2013, 10:52 PM
My great uncle had assisted suicide, but like the rest of my family he lived in Holland, so it was not difficult. There is a process you go through, and he'd done all but the last psych evaluation, when he said to his doctor (horse calls, fabulous) "I'm done." He would have been dead within a fortnight anyhow, and living with pain of cancer had become unbearable.

Since then, an uncle has had two sisters do it, and one friend has.

I am absolutely for it, and wish there were not so many roadblocks here.

Renn/aissance
Mar. 29, 2013, 10:59 PM
I believe that in cases where consent is not in question, euthanasia is a kindness. I don't think it's humane to keep alive a human who is suffering pain that would induce us to put down an animal.

The in-your-right-mind-to-give-informed-consent issue is the tricky part, because as soon as you say "people have the right to determine when they die," the flip side is that you're also saying it would be unethical to attempt to prevent the suicide of someone who is mentally ill. So: where do you draw the "in your right mind to make the decision" line?

I don't have an answer to that.

vineyridge
Mar. 30, 2013, 12:02 AM
We allow both patients and families of the patients with health care directives to refuse medical care. I don't see that giving a person the wherewithal to end it is much different. Where the correct paperwork is in place setting out the conditions of his/her death from a time that a person IS in sound mind , I really don't see that it's any damn business of the greater society whether the person lives or dies by clearly expressed wishes.

Death is sad; suicide is sad. But the world doesn't end; the person ends. It's sad for the survivors, but the world goes on. If a person is so depressed they REALLY want to kill themselves and they are not delusional, why isn't living or dying a personal choice?


I believe that in cases where consent is not in question, euthanasia is a kindness. I don't think it's humane to keep alive a human who is suffering pain that would induce us to put down an animal.

The in-your-right-mind-to-give-informed-consent issue is the tricky part, because as soon as you say "people have the right to determine when they die," the flip side is that you're also saying it would be unethical to attempt to prevent the suicide of someone who is mentally ill. So: where do you draw the "in your right mind to make the decision" line?

I don't have an answer to that.

inne
Mar. 30, 2013, 12:13 AM
If a person is so depressed they REALLY want to kill themselves and they are not delusional, why isn't living or dying a personal choice?

Yes!!! It is always frustrating to me when people (I'm not talking about anyone in this thread) talk about mentally ill people as if all statements from them are inherently unreliable and symptoms of mental illness rather than true expressions of valid feelings and thoughts. I do not think that the suffering of someone with mental illness is any less significant than those suffering with physical ailments, and the desire to end that suffering should be taken just as seriously.

I have a friend with schizophrenia. His life is hell. He will be institutionalized for the rest of his life. He would like to die and, god, I wish there was an easy, painless way for him to do it while being supported by doctors and friends, if not his family. Should he live another 30, 40, 50 years in this nightmare because we cannot believe him when he says he wants to die? Most of us would want the same.

mvp
Mar. 30, 2013, 12:30 AM
I don't believe helping an Alzheimer patient to an early grave is the intention of the oregon law. I believe you must be of sound mind. And I personally feel that it is murder to give someone death-pills when they aren't able to decide for themselves. What about all the seriously handicapped people? Mental patients? Helping someone die is for God.

I live in Oregon now. I'm young and healthy. Does that mean I should stock up before I leave?

I don't have kids or fantastic amounts of money. I think euthanasia for animals is not only A-OK but beneficial for them. I'd like to have the same option before I was suffering badly.

And another thing! A God who would consign me to suffering when there was another option that hurt no one but ended my life.... well, He ain't worth much to me. I can't believe anyone would argue for a God that did produce pointless suffering as "part of the deal."

mvp
Mar. 30, 2013, 12:39 AM
I believe that in cases where consent is not in question, euthanasia is a kindness. I don't think it's humane to keep alive a human who is suffering pain that would induce us to put down an animal.

The in-your-right-mind-to-give-informed-consent issue is the tricky part, because as soon as you say "people have the right to determine when they die," the flip side is that you're also saying it would be unethical to attempt to prevent the suicide of someone who is mentally ill. So: where do you draw the "in your right mind to make the decision" line?

I don't have an answer to that.

One of the very tough problems is that wishing to die has been considered a sign of insanity for a long time. So there are some desires one cannot have and be rational at the same time.... just by definition.

But let me bet you guys a steak dinner that within the next half-century or so, we will change our ethics about this.

IMO, that will happen when we run out of money and ration health care far more than we do now. When folks who "count"-- those who are well-off and articulate-- start pointing out the senseless financial destruction of families stemming from expensive medical care for loved ones who will die anyway and may suffer themselves in the process, this will change.

Who's taking the bet?

mvp
Mar. 30, 2013, 12:42 AM
We allow both patients and families of the patients with health care directives to refuse medical care. I don't see that giving a person the wherewithal to end it is much different. Where the correct paperwork is in place setting out the conditions of his/her death from a time that a person IS in sound mind , I really don't see that it's any damn business of the greater society whether the person lives or dies by clearly expressed wishes.

The "won't help you die but will withhold life support" is a fine line enjoyed by sissies. I don't see what there is to be proud of if you can say "Hey, I didn't do any killing today, but I did check in on my dying-slowly-of-dehydration patient whose 'care' cost another $1,200."

Sadly, this puts the needs of the doctor above the needs of the patient who is arguably suffering more. WTF kind of ethics is that?

jenm
Mar. 30, 2013, 12:44 AM
Just curious... what stops someone from giving the pills to someone else? Can you travel to Oregon to get this, or do you have to be a resident for a given period of time?

This sounds like such a strange post, but I ask because I have a family member with Alzheimer's who has low quality of life. He is very confused to the point of frequent and violent panic, even just going from kitchen to bedroom. He often requires sedation to calm down, but has negative effects from it. He has a full-time in-home nurse and a hospice nurse one time per week, but I feel like he's being put through unnecessary pain every day. He can barely speak anymore.

I am wondering about why more options aren't available for people like him.

You do have to establish yourself as a resident of Oregon for what I believe is one year. HBO did a documentary on this a couple of years ago where they followed people who chose this path. The people were given a concoction to drink which apparently didn't taste very good. HBO did not film the death, but did show everything leading up to it. It was a very well made documentary.

I'm sorry about your dad...

besttwtbever
Mar. 30, 2013, 12:45 AM
And another thing! A God who would consign me to suffering when there was another option that hurt no one but ended my life.... well, He ain't worth much to me. I can't believe anyone would argue for a God that did produce pointless suffering as "part of the deal."

mvp, So well put, thank you!

We have a friend who has a terminal illness and her doctor has told her that although her mind will always be as clear as it is now, her body will slowly fail. He said that eventually, she will suffocate to death. I don't know whether or not she is going to choose euthanasia, nor do I care as that is up to her. I do however believe that I should NOT be the one telling her (by voting against assisted suicide/euthanasia) that she has to basically drown in her own body while her mind is still perfectly intact. I just don't see where it's up to me to basically tell anyone that they have to suffer.

starhorse
Mar. 30, 2013, 01:17 AM
Thanks so much for all of these posts. It is interesting to hear everyone's perspective, particularly in regards to mental soundness.

Regarding God... the grandfather in question was a minister. He no longer knows God, he no longer understands religion (he lost all of that many months ago), he no longer recognizes his wife... heck, he no longer can walk to the bathroom alone.

I think, if there is a God (which for me, jury's still out), he'd understand the desire for a peaceful and expedited death in this case.

Blugal
Mar. 30, 2013, 01:35 AM
OP, your mother should speak to a lawyer regarding the tricky legal aspects of what you are asking (e.g. difference between Power of Attorney and health directive, what they mean and what rights they confer).

I'm sorry I can't give you any legal advice (I don't practice in your state) but my condolences to you & your family going through this.

Gestalt
Mar. 30, 2013, 02:24 AM
That is, of course, if you believe in God. Otherwise, it's just cruel Nature at work.

I'm all for suicide as an honorable way to meet an unforgiving future. Which is not quite the same as euthanasia. I do believe that every person should have an equivalent of the cyanide capsule at hand.

I don't believe in God as taught by churches. I do believe in spirituality and within that the energy of the human mind creates what I refer to as God.

Why the he!! would you give an alzheimer patient a cyanide capsule?

Gestalt
Mar. 30, 2013, 02:36 AM
Thanks so much for all of these posts. It is interesting to hear everyone's perspective, particularly in regards to mental soundness.

Regarding God... the grandfather in question was a minister. He no longer knows God, he no longer understands religion (he lost all of that many months ago), he no longer recognizes his wife... heck, he no longer can walk to the bathroom alone.

I think, if there is a God (which for me, jury's still out), he'd understand the desire for a peaceful and expedited death in this case.

Starhorse, my father died from complications of alzheimers so I feel your pain.

To the poster that has a friend dying and the outcome is a clear mind with a body ravaged by pain, why don't they look at another form of suicide? There are many ways to kill yourself that don't include using your doctor, family or friends as accomplices.

Sorry I sound so riled up by this, I'm reeling from losing a friend. He was killed by a drunk driver. A driver that has multiple dui arrests on his record. :cry:

hb
Mar. 30, 2013, 02:37 AM
Washington state also has a "Death With Dignity" law. There are requirements around it such as the person needs to ask their doctor a certain number of times in a certain time period, at least once in writing. It's also built into the law that the death certificate will list the person's condition, say "cancer" as the cause of death, not suicide.

vineyridge
Mar. 30, 2013, 02:41 AM
I don't believe in God as taught by churches. I do believe in spirituality and within that the energy of the human mind creates what I refer to as God.

Why the he!! would you give an alzheimer patient a cyanide capsule?

You misunderstand. I would not give an Alzheimer's patient a cyanide capsule. In my world the person would already have the capsule before the diagnosis and could use it when life became intolerable.

Renn/aissance
Mar. 30, 2013, 09:57 AM
If a person is so depressed they REALLY want to kill themselves and they are not delusional, why isn't living or dying a personal choice?

A stream of disjointed pre-caffeinated thoughts:

Because depression doesn't have to be a terminal illness.

At the same time, a lot of conditions that kill people are treatable, but there comes a point where the treatment doesn't work. Or maybe it never did. Or maybe you can't afford treatment.

I've never decided which is worse, having your brain rot in a healthy body, or being held prisoner in your body while it fails you. I know I'd put a bullet in my brain in the case of #2. So, do I have any right to tell someone what he or she can and cannot do in the case of #1? Does the neural misfiring give me that right, because if the brain isn't working right, that person can't decide for him or herself?

I'll go and find the interview later, but if I recall correctly, every one of the people who a) survived the jump off the Golden Gate bridge (26 people?) and b) consented to be interviewed (7 people) realized in mid-air--not two seconds after jumping--that they didn't want to die.

At first I thought the discussion of what I find an interesting ethical and psychological question was hijacky to this thread, but I'm not so sure.

dani0303
Mar. 30, 2013, 11:28 AM
I support it.

Two years ago I watched my relatively young (52) Mom slip away and die from a horrifying auto immune disease. Once her and her doctors/nurses knew that the end was inevitable, they allowed her to take too much Morphine to slip into a coma. She knew what she was doing, they knew what they were doing. I'm sure it was pretty illegal but it was so peaceful for mom. I would hate to see someone kept around/alive for longer than they want to be, especially when they're in a lot of pain

mvp
Mar. 30, 2013, 12:20 PM
Revising my theology a bit.

I take seriously the folks who want to reconcile this issue with their religion or spirituality. It's impossible to ask anyone to consider a position they don't already hold if you start by glibly trashing theirs. As a sales friend put it to me, "You don't sell baby clothes by first telling them that you can help because their baby is just.so.ugly."

So here's the Extended Dance Mix of what I said here:

And another thing! A God who would consign me to suffering when there was another option that hurt no one but ended my life.... well, He ain't worth much to me. I can't believe anyone would argue for a God that did produce pointless suffering as "part of the deal."

1. Looking for proof of God in anything-- from evolutionary adaptations to who lives and who dies according to our sensibilities-- isn't a sure-fire way to know much about God at all. Surely He is smarter than we and doesn't have to make Himself known to us "on our terms." That means that everyone needs to be a tad agnostic.

2. On that basis, I'm willing to believe that God intervenes to determine who lives and who dies. We can find plenty of extraordinary measures taken to save lives that ultimately fail, and plenty of people who live through stuff predicted to kill them. So if you want to leave an acre of from for God to act in this huge chain of events, meh, that's fine with me.

3. And that granted-- that God does actually flip that Life/Death switch-- doesn't matter much. We still have choices about what we want to do up to arriving at the edge of God's territory. He may control the Life/Death switch, but He also invented morphine and cyanide and frail human bodies that can't survive various things.

So, leaving God his position at the Life/Death switch, you still can do stuff that points toward euthanasia without being immoral or stepping on His toes.

spacytracy
Mar. 30, 2013, 01:48 PM
Timely thread...
http://news.yahoo.com/man-86-gets-probation-ariz-mercy-killing-163932819.html

Foxtrot's
Mar. 30, 2013, 01:56 PM
While Gloria Taylor has died of her disease which was Lou Gherig's disease, her case is still going on, supported by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
Euthanasia is not legal here, but Gloria's 85 year old mother is continuing her fight for her ... people should not have to go through this. :(

mvp
Mar. 30, 2013, 01:58 PM
Why the he!! would you give an alzheimer patient a cyanide capsule?

Because he is suffering now and that will only get worse. Most likely, the family is, too. Reread the OP's post to appreciate what he is experiencing: The guy gets scared going from one room to another.

mvp
Mar. 30, 2013, 02:04 PM
Starhorse, my father died from complications of alzheimers so I feel your pain.

To the poster that has a friend dying and the outcome is a clear mind with a body ravaged by pain, why don't they look at another form of suicide? There are many ways to kill yourself that don't include using your doctor, family or friends as accomplices.

Sorry I sound so riled up by this, I'm reeling from losing a friend. He was killed by a drunk driver. A driver that has multiple dui arrests on his record. :cry:

What?

The very bad death of your friend sucks.

The suffering of terminally ill patients sucks, too.

They are unrelated. In other words, why keep someone suffering alive so as to somehow "make up" for another's bad death? Doesn't that just insure suffering for all?

To me, the same goes for assisted and unassisted suicide. What difference does it make if someone has to do it "the hard way" when "the easy way" is available? I get that no doctor (save, perhaps Jack Kevorkian) wants to make the dispatch of sick people his specialty. But why not? Why not make cultural room for self-euthanasia such that the doctors that provide it don't have to feel bad?

MsM
Mar. 30, 2013, 02:21 PM
Such a difficult thing to regulate.

My mom died of cancer. At the end she was heavily medicated and not give food or fluids. The "good" part was that the doctors and hospital were very realistic and compassionate. The family was united and she got enough pain management to render her unconcious when the pain would have been too much to bear. The bad part was that she had to linger in that state because they couldnt actively end her life.

My dad has dementia/alzheimers. At this point he is all but mentally dead. There is no telling how much longer his body will hang on. For him, this part is not difficult. He is in a good facility with medication to keep him happy if he needs it. The difficult part was when he was aware enough to be anxious and upset. He would like to have ended it then, but it would have taken something very overt to end it at that point as his body was still working. Best we could do is authorize medications and wait for more deterioration...

What is scary for me is that I am single, no kids with only older siblings. With father and grandmother having suffered from dementia, it is a frightening prospect to face with no sure advocate. Right now the methods are either awfully violent and traumatizing to whoever finds the person, or they are not very certain.

* True Twilight Zone kind of story: Mom worked at a rehab hospital. One patient was recovering from a gunshot. Seems he was depressed and put a gun in his mouth and shot. In a horrible twist of fate, he did not kill himself but shot through his spinal cord and woke up a quadraplegic. :no:

pal-o-mino
Mar. 30, 2013, 02:46 PM
I've never understood why it's a 'kindness' to put an animal to death when it is severely ill or injured, but a person should suffer and languish in pain for who knows how long.

I'm all for assisted suicide. If I were really sick with something terminal or was going to have no quality of life, I'd rather drink a concoction or take pills or whatever than suffer through.

People have a ... I forgot what it's called. You fill it out and decide beforehand if you want to be saved if you go into cardiac arrest. Do not resuscitate order. Why can't a person fill something out that says, if i'm deathly ill or incapacitated, I wish to be terminated. Like a donor mark on your driver's license.

jenm
Mar. 30, 2013, 03:07 PM
People have a ... I forgot what it's called. You fill it out and decide beforehand if you want to be saved if you go into cardiac arrest. Do not resuscitate order. Why can't a person fill something out that says, if i'm deathly ill or incapacitated, I wish to be terminated. Like a donor mark on your driver's license.

I think the difference is that a DNR is meant for no heroics trying to save a life when the quality of life will be very poor if kept alive.

As for making it legal, it could be in any state if a measure was approved in a general election.

Even so, in Oregon it's not a simple process:

Under the law, a competent adult Oregon resident who has been diagnosed, by a physician, with a terminal illness that will kill the patient within six months may request in writing, from his or her physician, a prescription for a lethal dose of medication for the purpose of ending the patient's life. Exercise of the option under this law is voluntary and the patient must initiate the request. Any physician, pharmacist or healthcare provider who has moral objections may refuse to participate.

The request must be confirmed by two witnesses, at least one of whom is not related to the patient, is not entitled to any portion of the patient's estate, is not the patient's physician, and is not employed by a health care facility caring for the patient. After the request is made, another physician must examine the patient's medical records and confirm the diagnosis. The patient must be determined to be free of a mental condition impairing judgment. If the request is authorized, the patient must wait at least fifteen days and make a second oral request before the prescription may be written. The patient has a right to rescind the request at any time. Should either physician have concerns about the patient's ability to make an informed decision, or feel the patient's request may be motivated by depression or coercion, the patient must be referred for a psychological evaluation.

The law protects doctors from liability for providing a lethal prescription for a terminally ill, competent adult in compliance with the statute's restrictions. Participation by physicians, pharmacists, and health care providers is voluntary. The law also specifies a patient's decision to end his or her life shall not "have an effect upon a life, health, or accident insurance or annuity policy."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Ballot_Measure_16_%281994%29

Gestalt
Mar. 30, 2013, 03:17 PM
What?

The very bad death of your friend sucks.

The suffering of terminally ill patients sucks, too.

They are unrelated. In other words, why keep someone suffering alive so as to somehow "make up" for another's bad death? Doesn't that just insure suffering for all?

To me, the same goes for assisted and unassisted suicide. What difference does it make if someone has to do it "the hard way" when "the easy way" is available? I get that no doctor (save, perhaps Jack Kevorkian) wants to make the dispatch of sick people his specialty. But why not? Why not make cultural room for self-euthanasia such that the doctors that provide it don't have to feel bad?

You misunderstand me. I was apologizing to the OP for being harsh, I lost my father to alzheimers so I know what they are going through. Feeling the sadness and anger from the senseless loss of my friend made me harsh towards their suffering.

Right up to the time of my dads death he would have lucid moments. He never asked to die and I would not want someone to take it upon themselves to help him die. He knew for months he was slipping mentally but he did not talk to the doctors about euthanizing him once his mind was gone. It is up to each individual to make the decision prior to incapacitation.

You make it seem like a doctor would not have a problem euthanizing a patient. Many vets don't and won't euth, I can't imagine a doctor doing so. Perhaps if it was a specialty practice?

mvp
Mar. 30, 2013, 03:35 PM
You misunderstand me. I was apologizing to the OP for being harsh, I lost my father to alzheimers so I know what they are going through. Feeling the sadness and anger from the senseless loss of my friend made me harsh towards their suffering.

Right up to the time of my dads death he would have lucid moments. He never asked to die and I would not want someone to take it upon themselves to help him die. He knew for months he was slipping mentally but he did not talk to the doctors about euthanizing him once his mind was gone. It is up to each individual to make the decision prior to incapacitation.

You make it seem like a doctor would not have a problem euthanizing a patient. Many vets don't and won't euth, I can't imagine a doctor doing so. Perhaps if it was a specialty practice?

No one anywhere in this discussion is suggesting that someone in your dad's case-- a man who has not asked for his life to end-- be euthanized.

It's important to distinguish between those who have expressed those wishes or are suffering in a way that those how know them well know they (the dying) would not want for themselves. It's important because the strongest objection to allowing folks to make the self-euthanasia decision is the "slippery slope" argument that pretty soon we will be murdering grandmothers. Anyone can see the difference and not seeing that consigns some people to needless suffering.

I don't know if doctors have a hard time participating in euthanasia or not. I suspect it varies with individuals and with each case. But I do think that many on the front lines with terminally-ill patients-- doctors, nurses, caregivers and family members-- have a harder row to hoe than the rest of us who can consider this from a safe distance. Why with hold support from those doing an unenviable but necessary job--- whether that's prolonging a life of poor quality or ending it? Any one of us ought to walk a mile in their shoes before we cast judgment.

Also, it is a surprise to me to hear that there are some vets who categorically will not euthanize animals. I can't imagine the vet who would tell the person with the dog crushed by a car to take the animal to another clinic for euthanasia. But if you say those DVMs exist, ok.

My point is that DVMs are given a comparatively good deal vis-a-vis human doctors when it comes to euthanizing patients with bad quality of life and no expectation of better. To me, that means we treat our animal doctors and animals better in the scenario where life sucks worse than death. I think human beings are more important than animals, so that position makes no sense to me.

starhorse
Mar. 30, 2013, 04:22 PM
These posts are really helpful and thoughtful -- thank you all so much for having such a respectful conversation!

The article posted is really fascinating to me. What an act of love.

Bluey
Mar. 30, 2013, 06:46 PM
I have been there three times.

One, she was 62 and in the hospital, knocked out because every time they tried to bring her up she would scream in pain and ask she was permitted to die, enough was enough.
She had bone cancer and the hospital kept her alive for six horrible weeks.
That is one time when euthanasia should, not only be legal, but be the humane thing to do, to reduce that kind of suffering.:cry:

Another, Grandma, at 99, never was sick, but was not herself the last three years, still ok, just her memory very spotty.
She just faded away for a week and one day was unresponsive and that night passed on.
Wonderful way to go, no question of any other than let nature run it's course.

One more, had emphysema, was practically house and oxygen bound the last year, with hospice coming to the house twice a week, on morphine for anxiety from lack of oxygen to the brain, but otherwise more or less lucid.
I think if that person had known that euthanasia was legal, those last weeks, I don't know, but think that the anxiety would have been thru the roof about anyone wanting to "pull the plug".:eek:
That one situation also no one would have considered euthanasia appropriate at all, no question.
There, no matter how much suffering there may have been, ameliorating terminal suffering was the right way to go, until the natural end.

I think that, in the situations and with the patients where euthanasia may be indicated, that should be left to the patient and doctor themselves, not for any other to decide for them.
Now, there can be many hoops to jump thru, regulating the process best we can, but it should be that one more option, for those that consider that right for them.
That should go without question in a country where individual freedoms are supposed to be the norm.