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  1. #1
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    Default Assisted suicide for the terminally ill

    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!



  2. #2
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    i have no suggestions other than--does the hemlock society still exist? maybe there's a chapter in your state?
    Gravity works, and the laws of physics are a bitch.

    Member: Rabid Garden Snail Clique



  3. #3
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    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.



  4. #4
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    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.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kate66 View Post
    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.



  5. #5
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    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.
    "All top hat and no canter". *Graureiter*


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  6. #6
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    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.



  7. #7
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    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??

    Quote Originally Posted by starhorse View Post
    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.



  8. #8
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    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.
    Foaling Around www.facebook.com/foalingaround
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  9. #9
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    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.



  10. #10
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    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.



  11. #11
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    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.
    "All top hat and no canter". *Graureiter*



  12. #12
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    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.



    Quote Originally Posted by Gestalt View Post
    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'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire


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  13. #13
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    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.


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  14. #14
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    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.
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim



  15. #15
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    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.


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  16. #16
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    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.
    EDDIE WOULD GO


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  17. #17
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    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.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
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  18. #18
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    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?

    Quote Originally Posted by Renn/aissance View Post
    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.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire


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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by vineyridge View Post
    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.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gestalt View Post
    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."
    The armchair saddler
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