Monday, September 27, 2010

Assisted Suicide like execution

This is a letter to the editor that was published in the Spokesman-Review in Washington State on September 26, 2010.

Katie Densley from Wilbur Washington explains the circumstances surrounding the assisted suicide death of her uncle a year ago.

It is important to note that her uncle was depressed and not terminally ill. Please read the following:

It’s been a year since my uncle opted for assisted suicide. To me it’s an excruciating anniversary. He talked about this for a year before it became law. He’d had surgery for cancer which left him with a catheter. He was depressed at 94 but was home with assistance from friends and health givers. I thought this could never happen because he was just old and depressed.

When the law became reality, friends helped him with his quest. They took him to doctors that my uncle convinced this was what he wanted. His profession had been car salesman so he got the doctors to sign off on him. Friends who were his caretakers tried to talk him out of it, saying it wasn’t right because he wasn’t terminal.

The date was set for the final event. I loved him and wanted to be with him when he died. It felt like an execution.

The details are still painful. Holding him the 25 minutes it took for his heart to stop.

My uncle was the third person to die under the new law. Depressed yes. Terminal no.

Katie Densley
Wilbur, Wash.


Link to this letter to the editor: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/sep/26/suicide-like-execution/

9 comments:

Mike said...

I haven't been involved at all in this on-going fight about euthanasia, but maybe it's time to put in my 2 cents worth. We need to establish a couple of basic truths first. One, nobody, and I mean NOBODY has the right to tell me what to do with my own body or my own life. We are each responsible for ourselves and nobody can take that right away unless we allow them to. The exception is when someone gives another person the power of attorney to do so. Secondly, religious arguments for either side are totally irrelevant and have no value in the discussion unless the discussion is entirely between people of identical religious views. Once these two truths are accepted, the argument is essentially rsolved. If I want to commit suicide then I have every right to do so, for any reason, and no-one has the right to intervene as long as I'm not taking anyone else with me (suicide bombers take note). lots of people, like families, doctors, priests etc have every right to try to talk me out of it, but not to stop me. Likewise, no-one has the right to MAKE me commit suicide if I don't want to, but they ahve every right to try to talk me into it if they so desire, unless I am incapable of rational decision making, ie, incompetent or senile. The only difficult are in this discussion is whether a legal guardian can decide for us during those times when we CAN'T make the decision ourselves. If we have previously made some decisions, like "Do Not Resuscitate" there seems to be no argument, so why can't I also say, "If I am comatose permanently or in unbearable pain permanently or just fed up with living, then give me the needle and let me die with dignity and in peace". I suspect that the vast majority of people who are opposed to euthanasia are either being selfish and just trying to protect themselves from the grief and loss of a loved one, or afraid that euthanasia might become an ordered solution by the medical profession or government. So, my solution is to accept the premise that I am in charge of decisions about my own life, and will not be forced to spend my last months or years in pain or misery just because you think I should, and just let me do the Hemingway thing - but with a needle rather than a shotgun. Instead of fighting the whole idea of euthanasia by consenting adults, spend your energies trying to come up with an equitable solution that will ensure that those who are competent to make the decision can do so, and those who are not are protected and have to meet some standards before a guardian can order it, and then only after consultation with doctors, lawyers, counsellors and so on. Your point of view will NEVER prevail, because there are too many of us who will never agree with you that you have the right to interfere with our decisions, so calm down and find the middle road, which is where the answers are usually found.

Mike Holt
Victoria, BC

Mike said...

I left a comment on this article a couple of days ago and it hasn't appeared yet. I guess only ideas supporting your viewpoint on euthanasia are acceptable eh? Mike Holt

Jackie K said...

Death is inevitable, no one escapes. Why do people have to suffer during the end of life so the rest of us feel better. It is the unselfishness of those who set people free with unconditional love. Dignified and peaceful death is not an execution, it is a person or individuals choice and a right. Letting someone go, is called wisdom. I am proud of my volunteer work. I hope someday you will see clearly with wisdom, it was not your choice. Do you like others telling you what is right or wrong for you? Or would you appreciate the support and love even if they disagreed. Blessings and much love to you.
A proud volunteer-Jackie K

Alex Schadenberg said...

Choice is often a lie.

Society faces a serious problem of elder abuse and abuse of the vulnerable.

Your ideology leads to the ultimate abuse of the vulnerable, death.

Further to that, what does it mean to have compassion. Compassion is about alleviating pain and suffering it is not about eliminating the person.

Finally, this woman expressed that her uncle was depressed and not terminally ill.

I guess the supposed Safeguards are really sugar coating to make us feel better.

Jackie K said...

Death does not eleviate a person. People are much deeper then just a physical body, such as the soul, spirit, actions, lessons, relationships, experiences, etc.

As I said before, death is inevitable, you will never escape it. People leave such wonderful gifts and memories behind when their bodies leave the earth. Who they are, what we mean to each other, what we learn from each other, will never change and it can never be taken away, many of us continue to dedicate our actions to our past love ones. That right there is proof that the person was not eleviated, but honored.

Not sure how choice is a lie?? Not sure how honoring someone else's wishes of a dignified death is abuse? Abuse to the elderly and vulnerable often happens while they are alive by caregivers who have had back ground checks and screened thoroughly. Abuse is not honoring another's wishes, and forcing your own wishes on them. No one has the right to tell someone else what is right or wrong for them.

It is no one's business in regards to the patient privacy between the patient and his doctors. If the doctor agrees the patient has less then 6 months, he has the title and the liscense to diagnos. So that is no ones business.

I am a very proud volunteer of Choices and Compassion.

Jackie K

Mike said...

Alex, you make simple statements that sound like the utterances of some wise old guru, but in reality they are crap. You say, "choice is often a lie". This is obviously a non sequitur since choice is an action and lie is a noun. If you mean that sometimes the choices offered to someone may not necessarily be either complete or valid then that makes sense. Then you say that "my ideology leads to the ultimate abuse, death" and that's a hell of a stretch. My ideology as you call it simply says that I have the right to choose and decide for myself. It MAY lead to my death if that's what I want, but your statement implied that it is inevitable. That's the same specious argument that says using marijuana leads to heroin and other drugs, a transparent and easily proven lie. There are millions of people who used marijuana in the sixties and seventies who never went on to the hard drugs, myself included. Anyway, it seems that your big fear is that the right to end ones own life is somehow opening the door for someone else to arbitrarily end the "vulnerable" or "incompetent" folks lives. You are saying in effect that the right to commit suicide is the same as the right to commit murder, an obviously childish, immature and unintelligent comparison. The only extension to the self-inflicted suicide option is a medically administered termination used to stop incurable suffering. I just bread where some people in a vegetative state - totally comatose but with some brain activity have responded to some esoteric experiments which used images to elicit a response. What an absolutely ghastly thought, that some people who are complete vegetables might actually be aware of their situation and be unable to communicate, move or do anything. I cannot imagine a worse situation - like being buried alive but with well meaning people keeping you alive! And finally, yes compassion might involve ending the life if that is the only way to end the suffering - either mental or physical, and the woman's uncle took what for him was the best choice of road, death. Her misery is about herself, not about him,we should try to think more about the patient instead of our own loss.

mike

Alex Schadenberg said...

Legalizing assisted suicide gives the physician the right to be directly and intentionally involved with causing another persons death.

Choice is an illusion.

The laws are not about choice. Choice is a slogan that is provided by the euthanasia lobby to sell society on the idea that it is good to let your physician be involved with causing your death.

Choice is an arguement that can be used to justify suicide, be we are talking about assisted suicide which is an act that directly and intentionally involves another person.

To justify assisted suicide based on the suffering of another person is false. We know that most people who die by assisted suicide do not do so because they are suffering physical pain.

Assisted suicide is a public safety issue.

When you give someone else the right to be directly and intentionally involved with a persons death, then you have opened the question of the influence one has upon another.

Assisted suicide can become the ultimate form of elder abuse.

When we consider the higher rates of elder abuse in society, we must ask the quesion, why do most people not report the abuse that they are experiencing?

There are many reasons for the problem of elder abuse but the need to protect people from others who are wiling to abuse or wish to "get rid of the other" becomes far more difficult when you wrap it in a false connotation of "choice"

In the end: who's choice is it anyway?

Alex Schadenberg said...

Dear Jackie:

When did dying from an intentional overdose from a prescription that was knowingly written by a physician become a dignified death.

A dignified death occurs when a caring community journeys with a person, caring for their pain and symptoms, upholding their human dignity by maintaining their importance as a person in the community and ensuring that when they die, they are not alone.

Alex Schadenberg said...

Dear Mike:

I am happy to notice that you have corrected my grammer.

I really don't understand why you compare legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide with marijuana use. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are ultimate decisions that cause death, marijuana is a life-style decision. No comparison.

You then say, "Anyway, it seems that your big fear is that the right to end ones own life is somehow opening the door for someone else to arbitrarily end the "vulnerable" or "incompetent" folks lives. You are saying in effect that the right to commit suicide is the same as the right to commit murder, an obviously childish, immature and unintelligent comparison."

Sorry Mike, your comment is unintelligent because I was not comparing the right to commit suicide with the right to commit murder. There are no legal prohibitions to suicide. I was writing about assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide involves the direct and intentional involvement of another person. I am saying that it should be illegal for someone to be directly and intentionally involved with causing another persons death. There is a clear difference.

You then justify my concerns by saying:
"I just bread (read not bread Mike) where some people in a vegetative state - totally comatose but with some brain activity have responded to some esoteric experiments which used images to elicit a response. What an absolutely ghastly thought, that some people who are complete vegetables might actually be aware of their situation and be unable to communicate, move or do anything. I cannot imagine a worse situation - like being buried alive but with well meaning people keeping you alive!"

I guess if you were in charge Mike you would make sure that people in locked-in syndrome are not given a chance to recover because their life experience is so totally horrific that they are better off dead.

Better off dead right Mike.

Oh by the way Mike, even you prove to me that choice is an illusion.

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