Thursday, July 15, 2021

Assisted suicide researchers want suicide devices for people with dementia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Just as you thought the assisted suicide lobby has gone too far, long-time assisted suicide lobby leader and researcher, Margaret Pabst Battin opens the debate for developing a suicide device for people with dementia.

The Hastings Center Report published an article (May 2021) by Margaret Pabst Battin and Brent M Kious titled: Ending One's Life in Advance. (Link to the article).

Battin has studied and promoted euthanasia and assisted suicide since the 1980's. Battin is the same philosopher who argues that assisted suicide is not a suicide. Her new article concerns the following question:

People newly diagnosed with progressive dementia may not want to live through its later stages, but the options for those who wish to choose an earlier death are inadequate and can be dependent on others’ cooperation. What if, while still competent, these people could opt for implantation of a device that would achieve their goals—timed to release a painless, fatal drug at a future point they have selected?
Pabst and Kious justify their promotion of suicide devices for people with dementia by stating:
  • to have control over how we die; 
  • to avoid pain and suffering;
  •  not to burden family members with overwhelming care needs; 
  • not to impose overwhelming medical or other financial costs; 
  • not to lose what we may experience as still-good life in the early and middle stages of progressive dementia; 
  • not to impose painfully difficult decisions on our family members or loved ones—for example, between caring for us or facing unsupportable financial burdens; 
  • not to have to ask our doctors to do what might violate their oaths or personal commitments or be emotionally unbearable for them; or 
  • not to have to turn to preemptive suicide to avoid all of the above.

Talking about considering life with dementia as not worth living.  

I recently spoke to a woman who felt that she was being pushed to have her father, with dementia, die by dehydration. This woman loved and respected her father and did not consider his life as not worth living.

Pabst and Kious ask the question?

Suppose there is a simple medical device, based on the triple technology of the timed-release capsule, the subdermal contraceptive implant, and a painless, quick-acting euthanasia drug developed in the Netherlands, where euthanasia is legal: it’s a delayed-onset, rapid-acting, painless euthanasic implant. Anybody newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other irreversible progressive dementia, while still lucid and competent, can request one.
When evaluating the concept of killing by inserting a time delayed suicide device into a person with dementia creates significant concerns. For instance:
  1. Implanting a suicide device into a person with dementia creates a belief that living with dementia is worse than death. This is based on a eugenic ideology that certain lives are not worth living. The assisted suicide lobby will counter that argument by saying its about choice, but that negates the reality that someone has agreed to implant the device. 
  2. Who decides that the person qualifies to have a suicide device implanted? Similar to assisted suicide the death lobby will argue the decision is based on choice. Considering the fear mongering used by Battin and Kious in this article to justify killing, is it truly based on a "choice". 
  3. What happens if the person changes their mind? Once a person is deemed incompetent, they will lose the right to change their mind with the inevitable outcome being death without consent.

Finally, why limit the death device to people with dementia?

Whether it be assisted suicide by mixing a lethal drug cocktail into apple sauce or assisted suicide by suicide device, clearly Battin and Kious are pushing the death envelope and, in turn, dehumanizing people living with dementia.

In a previous article Battin suggests that suicide is different than assisted suicide. Her arguement concerning suicide is philosophically based. This article is clearly justifying suicide for people with dementia. 

As stated earlier, just as you thought things were bad, Battin comes along to justify more killing.


Nancy said...

Just NOOOOO!, Battin.

Unknown said...

Alex, you raise many cogent objections and concerns regarding Battin & Kios's implanted death device. And your question, "...why limit the death device to people with dementia?" is one that Battin & Kious must answer. They will undoubtedly counter with the usual, "Don't give us the old 'slippery slope' argument--we provide all kinds of safeguards." But if you pursue the twisted logic of their thesis, there is really no argument that can counter the idea of implanting these suicide devices in many
other populations besides patients with dementia. Why not, for example, implant these suicide devices in people with intractable (or seemingly intractable) psychiatric disorders, such as extremely refractory schizophrenia or bipolar disorder? Why not implant them in anyone with a severe chronic pain disorder, just in case treatment should someday fail? For that matter, why not implant them in all presently competent people, so that, should they experience extreme loneliness or suffering or any kind and become a "burden" to their families, they would have the option of activating the device? It won't do to discount the "slippery slope" argument with, "Oh,
come now, that's going way too far!" There is nothing in the concept of the Battin/Kious argument that would prevent such indefinite extension of this diabolical thesis.

Ronald W. Pies, MD

Alex Schadenberg said...

Thank you Dr Pies. The truth is simple, if its OK to kill someone then why not implant them with a device, or even a remote control device? Suicide is not about freedom, and clearly in this case it is about abandonment.