Assisted Dying

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The place to debate matters of faith and religion in a more rigorous manner. Differing perspectives from both Christians and non-Christians are actively welcomed, but contributors should come prepared to justify their opinions and beliefs, while showing due respect to the views of others.

Re: Assisted Dying

Postby GregB » September 15th, 2015, 11:23 am

And as it is legal, it makes this extra legislation redundant.

Is it, though? You keep insisting on this point, though I have my doubts as it clearly would mean that a doctor could simply up the administration of pain killers to a point of his choosing to end the patient's life and if that were the case, it would effectively be assisted dying and the proposed legislation would, indeed, be unnecessary (though, ironically, the defeated bill has more safeguards, ie. two doctors' opinions, than a sole doctor acting alone, as in this case.) Perhaps you might adduce confirmatory legal evidence to confirm your statement. Otherwise, I'm sceptical as to its legality.
The word "blessing", as mentioned upthread, was the word specifically used in the debate by one of the doctors for reasons I have then went on to explain.

Well, all right, if you wish to be somewhat pedantic about it. I'd rather not split hairs about an unfortunate choice of terminology, though.
In effect they want to force doctors to make these, literally, life and death decisions to provide a "neutral and clinical" veneer to what is - as you yourself have said on more than one occasion - a deeply personal decision.

And a doctor upping the level of pain-killers to fatal levels is not making a 'deeply personal decision'? Mmmmm....
It is only very rarely that extra-legislation brings greater freedoms

Well, I think that is really quite another debate for another day and thread, perhaps.
Not an assertion, as we can compare and contrast different cultures.

That could be a large-scale task, beyond the scope of this thread.
[...]the fact that a great number of those who are dying feel that they are burdening their loved ones and that this feeling leads to their decision to end things sooner.

Fact? Concrete evidence would be in order. And, in any case, if that's how they feel, then let's respect their wishes. Whatever their reasons, dubious for some outside observers or not, then if they wish to die a little earlier than they're doomed to anyway, let them do so and in peace.

And, further responses notwithstanding, I really think I've said all I have to say on the matter.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby Theophilus » September 15th, 2015, 7:16 pm

Again, you have overlooked the pressure this legislation would put upon doctors who would be responsible for making the decision to help another take their own life. As I said, if a law were in place where someone needed two doctors' agreement in order to end their own life, it would not take long before any doctor finding this unconscionable would face legal charges themselves for not allowing someone their legal "rights" by refusing to condone the act. And, regardless of religious persuasion, you will find a lot of doctors resisting this law simply because none of them will have gone into medicine with the intention of helping people end their own lives and won't want any part of it. Added to this the further pressure of having to say that a particular disease is definitely terminal and will almost-certainly result in death within six months when - as already mentioned - such a diagnosis is very difficult will lead to further reluctance.

When you briefly mentioned the differences between opposing gay-marriage whilst not opposing assisted-suicide you alluded to the further ramifications of allowing gay-marriage that go beyond two people doing what they want and not hurting anyone else. Well, in the effect it will have on doctors, I can see wider ramifications of assisted suicide beyond one person making their own choice how to end their life; and that's before we go on to cultural changes that will be brought about through the affirmation of suicide that such legislation would bring.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby GregB » September 15th, 2015, 8:09 pm

And again you have fudged the issue of the legality, or otherwise, of doctors increasing dosages of pain-killers to fatal levels (assisted dying by any other name anyway - and what of the possible pressures put on those doctors now?), so I have nothing to say about your highly speculative post,* except for this:
Added to this the further pressure of having to say that a particular disease is definitely terminal and will almost-certainly result in death within six months when - as already mentioned - such a diagnosis is very difficult will lead to further reluctance.

Oh, for heaven's sake! Many illnesses can be safely diagnosed as terminal and, as I've already stated (and which you have conveniently ignored), statistics alone can give an accurate estimate of the remaining time span of most cases, whatever the (mostly) rare exceptions. I instanced pancreatic cancer, which is definitively fatal as there is no cure and its advance is rapid. Likewise many other cancers and degenerative diseases.

Now, I really do have nothing more to add to this discussion.

[*eg: "I can see wider ramifications of assisted suicide beyond one person making their own choice how to end their life; and that's before we go on to cultural changes that will be brought about through the affirmation of suicide that such legislation would bring." Fine, that's your opinion; others will disagree.]
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby Theophilus » September 15th, 2015, 10:19 pm

Fine, continue to ignore the points you don't feel comfortable answering by accusing me of not backing up everything I paraphrased from two medical experts. The nature of what is being debated means that any issue that puts doubt on the wisdom of assisted-suicide needs to be addressed, whereas the odd weak argument against it isn't a reason to change the status quo; as a natural conservative yourself you would see this if it were almost anything else being debated.

Oh, for heaven's sake! Many illnesses can be safely diagnosed as terminal....


With an accurate prognosis as to lifespan (i.e. within one or two months)? No, you're wrong on this. Cancer is the easiest to estimate lifespan, but is still notoriously difficult.


...and, as I've already stated (and which you have conveniently ignored), statistics alone can give an accurate estimate of the remaining time span of most cases...


Let's see: we take a sample of the instances of a particular cancer which resulted in death and look at the lifespan in each case. We cold get an average from this, but it wouldn't take into account when they were diagnosed (1 year ago, 10 years, 30 years... the statistics you refer to go back 40 years or more) and the advances in cancer treatment since the original diagnosis, not to mention the age of the person, general health, location etc. Average lifespans for cancer are based on outdated statistics, whilst advances in treatment are constantly happening. Even giving a prognosis to the patient may influence their lifespan - by either crushing their hopes or making them more determined to hold on for as long as possible - so it really is not as simple as looking at statistics.

I instanced pancreatic cancer, which is definitively fatal as there is no cure and its advance is rapid.


Not 'definitely' fatal as it can be surgically removed. However, even with pancreatic cancer, which as you say advances rapidly, life expectancy is still referred to in terms of less than one year, five years or ten years. The six month limit is still difficult to pin down.

I would like to know which other degenerative diseases can produce a prognosis of "less than six months to live".
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby GregB » September 16th, 2015, 7:26 am

Fine, continue to ignore the points you don't feel comfortable answering by accusing me of not backing up everything I paraphrased from two medical experts.

Given the nature of this comment, not to mention its inaccuracy*, I feel constrained to respond, despite my reluctance to continue with this discussion. I accused you of nothing. You have mentioned several times the possibility a doctor has of increasing the dosage of pain killers to fatal levels - which hardly seems like a paraphrase anyway; either a doctor has the right to do that or he or she doesn't. I questioned that on the grounds that it would constitute a deliberate act of assisted dying (cessation of certain treatments to advance natural organic death is a different matter) and so I found its legality suspect. Therefore, I simply asked you for evidence of its legality (ie. that such an act would not result in prosecution.)

I'm not ignoring or evading the rest of your post; I'm simply reluctant to get entangled in a drawn-out discussion about medical ins-and-outs, life span estimates and so on. The bottom line, as they say, for me is that a person with a diagnosed terminal illness should have the right to end their lives with medical assistance when they feel the moment has come. (And no one is obliging those who oppose that to do so.) Indeed, I would extend the time period beyond the prescribed six-month limit.

Now, I think I've made my own position on all this quite clear, as you have yours.

[* As I said , I'm not accusing you of "backing up everything [you] paraphrased from two medical experts", or anything else for that matter; this was a single issue. I simply wanted some clarification about its legal aspects, which seem highly suspect. Moreover, I do not "continue to ignore the points [I] don't feel comfortable" with; on the contrary, I have sought to respond to all the points you have made in your various posts. And I have not experienced any discomfort at anything you have said, merely disagreement.]
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby Theophilus » September 16th, 2015, 5:53 pm

GregB wrote:I'm not ignoring or evading the rest of your post; I'm simply reluctant to get entangled in a drawn-out discussion about medical ins-and-outs, life span estimates and so on.


And yet you were using them earlier when you thought they supported your view that the life-span of terminal diseases can be fairly accurately predicted through statistics. I merely pointed out that the statistics will not be as accurate as you believe because of the rapid advances in cancer treatment.

Indeed, I would extend the time period beyond the prescribed six-month limit.


And this is why the "slippery slope" argument is perfectly valid with regards to assisted suicide. Once we start extending the time-limit we can get people with perhaps many years to live deciding to end their lives if they wish. And with that we are already in the realms of the Oregon laws, where people with severe depression (caused in part by the diagnosis of a terminal illness) can effectively argue that their quality of life is so poor they demand medical practitioners to end their lives.

---

The statements about pain-killers being used to end life already were para-phrased from the interview. I initially thought this referred to automated delivery systems, where machines administer pain-killers after certain intervals, and can increase dosage in response to neurological responses from the patient (i.e. they are feeling more pain). In addition there are similar machines where the patient can self-administer extra doses in response to the pain he/she is feeling. The reason I didn't say this earlier because, reading about it further, it seems these machines have safeguards against overdosing on painkillers so became unsure on the point. However, I suppose those safeguards can only be based on an "average" person, and so it would still be possible for those machines to cause an overdose in a patient. This, clearly, would not be illegal as no one is culpable for doing administering a fatal does, let alone them doing it knowing it would end a person's life.

Nevertheless, never at any point was I referring to doctors knowingly administering a fatal does of painkillers and then pretending death wasn't their intended consequence. That you saw this as referring to a doctor giving an injection may hint at an ignorance (which I share) in just how advanced pain-treatment, as well as the hospice movement, is today. So much so, in fact, that someone who is so determined to end their own life in spite of what is available must surely be physically able to end their own life. Indeed, there is a case of a man - Tony Nicklinson - who had locked-in syndrome and campaigned for the "right to die@, arguing that due to his condition he could not physically kill himself. He lost his case at the high court after campaigning for literally years for assisted suicide. Within a week of the court ruling, he was dead - which raises the question as to why he felt the need to get that official seal of approval for his choice. Suicide hasn't been illegal in the UK since 1961.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby Lyn » September 17th, 2015, 1:51 pm

Excuse me as I am v tired and slow -but cheerful - today.

A few posts back, Greg was saying that there is nothing in the Bible to contradict killing oneself and I had never before thought of it like that, I always assumed that the rules were in the Bible somewhere, connected to "Though shalt not kill" including the killing of ourselves. From what Greg (I think it was him) said, there is no such teaching. That is very interesting. Gave me a long pause for thought (not thinking of doing anything to end my life right now but there could come a time when I am less fit and well but still compus mentis, able to go somewhere where I will not be disturbed for several hours and just sleep until I slip away. Seems quite charming. I could be with my loved ones at best, at least I would no longer be missing them (blimey they haven't gone yet and aren't likely to, I merely create a scenario.)

Now I want someone to show me in the Bible where suicide is considered murder. I get the idea that the Bible says we should not kill and that includes ourselves, an interpretation that is taught in churches, by clergy.

To have an assistant to help us kill ourselves may not be necessary if we do it before we can no longer pick up or swallow pills, but know the time of being helpless is imminnent. That saves someone else being involved which I think is better, not fair to ask another to do something which will have a long term effect on them, however they justify the action.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby Theophilus » September 17th, 2015, 3:44 pm

The Bible is not a list of rules like the Qu'ran, but rather it leads us to Christ and He teaches all. Part of the way He taught, and the way the Bible can teach us, is through example and parable. So one thing that can be done is to look at instances in the Bible where someone committed suicide and how that (person) is viewed and thus his actions. I can think of one example.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby GregB » September 17th, 2015, 4:03 pm

Well, as you're not naming names, I imagine you are referring to Judas Iscariot (if not, please clarify), but his manner of death was a consequence of his being racked with guilt after his betrayal of Christ, not to mention the fact that his treachery was preordained in prophecy, confirmed by Christ himself, with its prescribed outcome, so I really don't think we can draw conclusions about suicide per se from a Scriptural perspective on the basis of the very singular circumstances of his case alone.

I know of no other "instances in the Bible where someone committed suicide and how that (person) is viewed and thus his actions", so "example and parable" would seem to be lacking.
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Re: Assisted Dying

Postby Lyn » September 17th, 2015, 4:11 pm

Yes, Judas Iscariot is a hard case, not typical of the average person who commits suicide.
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