Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Euthanasia Campaigner shows signs of wavering on the issue.

Margaret Battin, a long-time researcher and promoter of legal euthanasia and assisted suicide appears to be showing signs of wavering on her position while caring for her husband, Brooke Hopkins, who experienced a traumatic bicycle accident in November 2008.

Battin & Hopkins
In one video interview Battin re-affirms her support for euthanasia and assisted suicide while questioning how legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide would be applied. In another video presentation she says that: "part of me wants to look back at everything I have written on this topic. I don't know if I would tear it all up."

Last week I wrote an article concerning research by Battin that was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics in 2007 that falsely concluded that vulnerable persons are not adversely effected by the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide. I found that Battin's research article was either written as propaganda or with the intention of blindly proving her hypothesis. I consider Battin's article to be a "false study". Link to my comments.

Since publishing my article I was informed by a supporter of the special circumstances that Battin and her husband, Brooke Hopkins, are living with since Hopkins accident.

Hopkins lives with significant paralysis and is living with quadriplegia.

In a TV interview, last December, on the Ted Capener show (KUED Channel 7) in Utah, Battin makes some very interesting statements, even though she does not recant support for euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In reference to the condition of her husband, Battin says that It is only a tradgedy if we want it to be... it is a difficult event with both tragic and positive consequences... when the care-givers do wonderful, gentle and courageous things, you need to take notice of it.

In reference to her husband, Battin states:
'His desire to live fluctuates. Often he says that he is happy to be alive. Sometimes he says this is too awful, just let me go... Sometimes when his pain is intense or the world looks bleak... those moments are very hard. He thinks that this has been a tremendous burden on me... but this has put the relationship at a much deeper level.'
It is interesting to note that research that was done by Dr. Harvey Chochinov, a Canadian psychiatrist, found that the will to live fluctuates in people. Chochinov et al, found that:
"a significant correlations between the will to live and existential, psychological, social, and, to a lesser degree, physical sources of distress. Existential variables proved to have the most influence, with hopelessness, burden to others, and dignity entering into the final model. Health care providers must learn to appreciate the importance of existential issues and their ability to influence the will to live among patients."
From his research Chochinov developed the Dignity Model or therapy that is oriented to increasing the value or dignity that a person has for oneself.

It is normal that a person, such as Hopkins, would experience a fluctuation in his - will to live. It is also normal that at a time that a person feels that they have lost their reason for living that the person may ask to have their life ended. When a person in this condition is killed by euthanasia, it is a tragedy, because the person is not wanting to die, but rather experiencing a normal human response to a difficult circumstance.

The research by Chochinov proves that euthanasia and assisted suicide should not be legal. When a person is suffering emotionally, psychologically or spiritually, they need to have their "dignity" affirmed, not be offered death or killed out of a false understanding of autonomy.

Battin also commented on serious disability as a reason for suicide. Battin stated that in some jurisdictions her husband, would be eligible for euthanasia. She said, one can imagine insurance companies pressuring people to protect their "bottom line", one can imagine greedy family members or a physician wanting to get rid of a difficult patient. She then says, but we have not experienced that.

Barbara Wagner
Just because Battin and Hopkins have not been pressured by others, does not make the experience of people such as Barbara Wagner any less of a concern. Wagner, who was a resident in Oregon, was denied, by the Oregon Health Plan, life-extending medical treatment for cancer, but offered "assisted suicide."

Battin says that some writers think that euthanasia and assisted suicide is something that people ought to do for reasons of serious disability.

Instead of responding to her point she turns the issue around to say that in her experience it is the aging population that is creating pressure to legalize assisted suicide. She said that some writers are asking if the old have a responsibility to create room for the young?

What is interesting about the Battin interview is that fact that she responds to the concerns that she raises concerning the potential abuse of assisted suicide by then restating the position that she has held for years.

She asked - why shouldn't we honor the wish to die by some people who do not wish to go through the process of aging?

It is interesting that Battin would continue to imply support for euthanasia for those who are "tired of living" considering the fact that she stated in her 2007 article in the Journal of Medical Ethics that there is no proof that a slippery slope occurs when euthanasia or assisted suicide is legalized. To allow euthanasia for those who are "tired of living" is definately proof that a "slippery slope" will occur.

My hope is that Battin questions her support for euthanasia and assisted suicide and that one day soon, she will join the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition to oppose giving doctors the right to directly and intentionally cause a persons death.


Margaret Battin said...

I'm utterly astonished that my recent work, and especially my account of my husband Brooke Hopkins' bicycle accident and resulting spinal cord injury that has rendered him quadriplegic, has been interpreted in this way. No, I am absolutely not changing my mind about my support for physician aid in dying, although I certainly am persuaded that watching someone you love make this choice would be phenomenally hard. Of course, watching someone you love suffer a genuinely intolerable life when they could not make this choice would be phenomenally hard too.

What's the most effective way to Alex Shadenberg's conjecture? Please listen. It's just flatly wrong if you think I'm "wavering" or likely to change my mind and join the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. On the contrary, I am more and more convinced that someone like my husband should have the choice about whether to continue his life (and he does already have the legal right to have the various technologies that are keeping him alive discontinued), even if it would be deeply painful for me to lose him.

I'm grateful, though, if you've taken the three minutes each needed to watch the pair of multimedia presentations the Salt Lake Tribune has done, and which have won a number of awards. I think these short pieces will help to clarify both what Brooke thinks and feels, and what I think and feel as well.

Peggy Battin



Alex Schadenberg said...

Thank you for your comment Margaret.

As long as you continue to care for your husband, I hope it will build within you an awe for the human person, even when that person is experiencing difficult circumstances.

Someday, I hope you will agree that legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide directly threatens the lives of people with vulnerable conditions, especially when they are experiencing existential questioning and pain, which is natural to the human person.