The right to die

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A place for serious discussion on any non-religious topic

The right to die

Postby GregB » August 17th, 2012, 1:20 pm

Tony Nicklinson, a man almost completely paralysed by a rare kind of stroke seven years ago, has lost his appeal to be allowed to die. He is said to be 'heartbroken' by the decision and I can understand why. Apparently his condition means he is in a state of permanent physical and mental suffering and I ask why the poor man should be condemned to the prospect of another indefinite period of suffering. He is evidently in his right mind in terms of awareness of the surrounding world, his family, and so on, and simply wants to see an end to the daily horror of his pitiful, pain-ridden existence, so why should he be denied it? And please don't come back to me with the usual lame crap about there being palliative care these days (still less the heartless religious arguments.) Whatever care Tony is receiving, he's clearly still suffering enormously and just wants out. As for the law, there can be safeguards for abuses if a revised law on euthanasia is seriously worked out.

I read that they can't afford the option of going to the Swiss clinic where legalised euthanasia takes place. Well, if I was well off enough, I would certainly pay for Tony's trip to Zurich and his peaceful death* - and two fingers to the heartless British legal system.

See the poor man here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19249680

[* It's not a cold, grim place, as someone here suggested a while ago. I've investigated and the personal attention is apparently warm and friendly and the last moments, with family present, intimate and peaceful, in an environment like a good guest house.]
"I hate reality but it's still the best place to get a good steak."
- Woody Allen
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Re: The right to die

Postby Bev » August 17th, 2012, 2:47 pm

I personally believe we should allow people the right to choose how they end their lives. To me, it makes no sense at all, to make such illegal, especially in a society where abortion is now legal. It just does not make sense to me.

There is the argument that such a law might be abused, that unwilling elderly will be coaxed or tricked into "agreeing" to die so the family can both be rid of their burden as well as collect earlier on any estate the person might still possess.

Something else I've never really understood is why someone like him wants a legal way out. People commit suicide all the time.
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Re: The right to die

Postby GregB » August 17th, 2012, 3:02 pm

I think the abuses you mention could, as I said, be dealt with effectively in a very well thought out law. Even if the odd one slipped through, though, surely that's better than leaving these poor individuals to suffer endlessly.

As for suicide, the problem is that this man is totally paralysed from the neck down so obviously cannot take his own life. If his wife (or someone else) performed the act for him, they could be charged with murder.
"I hate reality but it's still the best place to get a good steak."
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Re: The right to die

Postby Lyn » August 17th, 2012, 3:43 pm

Someone in his state will be susceptible to pneumonia (which used to be called "old man's friend"), and various other infections. He is within his rights to refuse antibiotics, indeed to refuse any life prolonging treatment and can insist on lying down instead of being sat up all the time. That is something I would like to put in place for myself if I became seriously ill and infirm, Do Not Resuscitate, Do Not Give Antibiotics, pain killing medication only. It's possible.
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Re: The right to die

Postby Bev » August 17th, 2012, 4:26 pm

Good points both. I had not thought about the assisted part and the liability to the loved one.

We also have what we call DNRs here. We also call them living wills. Vix is right, that someone can simply refuse food and water, and to be allowed to stay in bed. But, it's possible the wife or loved one could still be charged with neglect.

It is more complicated that it seems on first glance, that's for sure.

I'm not sure I talked about it here, but when we were with my ex husband before he died, the doctors had determined he would not be allowed a liver transplant and therefore would not recover. Even though he could hear us, he could not communicate with us, they said. At his wife's word, the nurse came in and disconnected him from everything, and then she injected him with a syringe full of morphine. I personally struggled terribly with that, as we (his sons and I) could tell he was aware we had arrived, and he seemed to struggle wanting to communicate. I never said anything, mainly because I didn't want his wife to suffer any more than she already was going to, but it really bothered us. We have since consoled ourselves that it wouldn't have mattered anyway, that once he was gone, he was free. But, truth be told, they took his life with that injection. I've always wondered about that, especially when there has been so much about assisted suicide being illegal.
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Re: The right to die

Postby Sprocket » August 17th, 2012, 4:46 pm

I'm completely with Greg for once. Some canting hypocrite who leads an organisation with the emetic name 'Care not Killing' was wittering on in the 'Guardian' report of the case about how he hoped that Martin would come to realise that his life still had worth. I think that's for him to decide, not some sanctimonious twat who hides his real, religious objections, which he knows won't play well with the public, under a veneer of pretended concern for vulnerable people. What a prize shit.
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Re: The right to die

Postby Lyn » August 17th, 2012, 9:15 pm

It's possible to let people die, comfortably, without actively killing them. You'd be surprised how often antibiotics are given to elderly, disabled people, who are ready to die, when it would be kinder to let nature take its course. Not only that but stuff like GTN and entire cocktails of drugs which are inappropriate for someone at that stage. As for morphine injections, the purpose of those is to help the patient to be more comfortable and not primarily to kill them though obviously a side effect is shortening of life. Some who are in their own home administer their own morphine, they have a permanent line into which they inject regularly, or someone else does it for them.

If someone is lying down for long periods they are more likely to get a chest infection - that's one of the reasons why people are sat in chairs all day (which must be very uncomfortable, never mind often undignified), or propped up in bed.

I really hope I am able to decide for myself what treatment I will have or not have when the time comes. However I wouldn't want to be actively killed, that would be too much of a responsibility for someone else to live with.
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Re: The right to die

Postby GregB » August 18th, 2012, 7:00 am

The problem in this particular case, Vix, is that the conditions you describe don't really apply. Also, you said earlier that "someone in this state will be susceptible to pneumonia", but Tony has been in this state for seven years, now, so he's evidently resistant to pneumonia and clearly doesn't want to wait forever for some infection to carry him off. As for lying down, he may find that more uncomfortable and distressing for all we know. I cannot lie down fully flat on my back for long without getting a panic attack and other people, like Tony, may have the same phobia (awful if you can't prop yourself up or simply get out of bed.)

As for someone accepting the responsibility of actively ending a person's life, there are certainly people who are prepared to do so and, indeed, would regard it as an act of mercy to end the suffering of that person. I would hope that if I were ever in such ghastly circumstances as Tony, someone I knew would demonstrate their true love or friendship by putting me out of my misery* (without, of course, leaving evidence which would incriminate them.)

I think Tony's wife should make an appeal for a donation from an anonymous rich benefactor to provide the necessary funding for the trip to Zurich and the Dignitas clinic where his life could be ended peacefully.

[* It needn't be a violent act. A plastic bag fastened over a person's head soon induces hyperventilation, which then leads on to loss of consciousness and subsequent suffocation. A few whiskies beforehand for the moribund person would undoubtedly help, certainly in my case.]
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Re: The right to die

Postby Lyn » August 18th, 2012, 9:48 am

Tony would not be resistant to pneumonia Greg. He has been got up and sat in a chair every day and no doubt given antibiotics whenever an infection appears - urinary infections are very common too. He could refuse all life saving medication and just be given palliative care, then his life would end quite soon.
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Re: The right to die

Postby GregB » August 18th, 2012, 11:42 am

In that case, if he's so eager to die, why hasn't he refused those medications (you suppose) he has been given whenever a (supposed) infection has appeared before? In any case, even dying of a horrible respiratory infection like pneumonia isn't exactly a peaceful release, is it? For heaven's sake, the man is in a living hell and just wants out and I believe he should have the right to that. If the (asinine) law won't permit it, then he is right to seek other means. (Dammit, I'd happily go there and give him the plastic bag treatment myself - or even slit his wrists; I'm not squeamish - if I could do it anonymously.)

Look at the video clip again in the link I provided and see the poor man break down in tears. Heartrending...
"I hate reality but it's still the best place to get a good steak."
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