June 16, 2015

Where doctors perform euthanasia even on non-terminal patients and pronounce it "very magical."

From a New Yorker article titled "The Death Treatment/When should people with a non-terminal illness be helped to die?"
In Belgium, euthanasia is embraced as an emblem of enlightenment and progress, a sign that the country has extricated itself from its Catholic, patriarchal roots....

[P]eople have... been euthanized because they had autism, anorexia, borderline personality disorder, chronic-fatigue syndrome, partial paralysis, blindness coupled with deafness, and manic depression. In 2013, Wim Distelmans euthanized a forty-four-year-old transgender man, Nathan Verhelst, because Verhelst was devastated by the failure of his sex-change surgeries; he said that he felt like a monster when he looked in the mirror. “Farewell, everybody,” Verhelst said from his hospital bed, seconds before receiving a lethal injection.

The laws seem to have created a new conception of suicide as a medical treatment, stripped of its tragic dimensions. Patrick Wyffels, a Belgian family doctor, told me that the process of performing euthanasia, which he does eight to ten times a year, is “very magical.”...
ADDED: Speaking of "sex-change" surgeries... one might say that someone who wants suicide is seeking to have his or her body transformed to correspond to the identity that exists in the mind, that of a dead person.

67 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Well, in the Middle Ages, killing someone with a potion could be called Magical. I'm glad Belgium has come so far as a society.

I wonder, though, if the term 'Magical' in the article results from a bad translation.

clint said...

I do support a right to die (it seems implicit in the right to life -- if there's no right to die, then life isn't a right but a duty) -- but stories like this give me pause.

sparrow said...

Coming soon to a nursing home near you

Chris said...

Given they euthanize those who are not perfect; autistic, blind & deaf (sorry Hellen Keller), People will soon be euthanized who carry the wrong opinions, or beliefs.

Paul said...

Humans are sentient beings and it is purely a matter of right and wrong. It is WRONG to kill an innocent human being...be it before birth or at the end of one's life. There are myriad medical advances that can mitigate pain and suffering, flat out killing someone is frankly a cowardly response to one's own inability to ease someone else's burden.

damikesc said...

Yeah, that sure sounds like enlightenment. Really.

"I have a case of the sads. Can I kill myself now?"

Belgium: Perhaps we should strive to develop the ubermensch after all...

Jim in St Louis said...

The ‘magical’ doctor quoted by Althouse also said: “Depending on communication techniques, I might lead a patient one way or the other.”
Doesn’t it sound like he gets off on the power of killing? Oh of course its oh-so-legal , but I’m seeing that he takes pride in convincing someone to sign the release form. Or maybe he will let them live for a while, as long as they are asking to be killed he can toy with them, back and forth. That is power! That is control issues.
These are not people who are terminally ill, these are people who are mentally ill. People who with a new treatment, better therapy, or new medication would help.

William said...

I've only had one friend commit suicide. She had a neurological condition that left her in intractable pain. She had been very pretty and very vain when younger. She lost her looks and only communicated with friends by phone. Her life was misery. She took all her money out of the bank and checked into a swank hotel in NYC. She went to the roof garden and threw all the money off it. Then she herself jumped. It was a dramatic gesture and made all the papers.......Her death still haunts me. I don't second guess her. Her problems were real, and they weren't ever going away. We like to believe that life is a very special gift and that the pros of life always outweigh the cons. That's simply not true, but who wants to be made aware of that fact. A brave struggle against pain and certain death is very reassuring to the onlookers, but it's not necessarily the best way to play out a losing hand.

Phil 3:14 said...

Euthanizing others makes our life easier too!

Robert Cook said...

Nat Hentoff, a passionate opponent of medical euthanasia who wrote columns arguing against it, would always point to Belgium as the example to illustrate where legalizing euthanasia, even for critically ill patients, would lead.

Michael K said...

In Holland, and probably Belgium, an ER doctor who admitted a chronic emphysema patient to ICU with respiratory failure would lose his/her job. That was true 25 years ago. I see they are coming up with a nice rationalization for a mandatory rule.

Death Panels are a myth, of course. And you can keep your doctor.

David said...

So Dr. Patrick Wyfels gets a kick out of causing people to die and watching them go. I am not comforted by his sense of magic.

Oso Negro said...

It certainly represents a final solution to chronic depression.

Jim in St Louis said...

Also from the article:
[Dr.]Vermeersch, … was one of the country’s earliest proponents of euthanasia, and he sees the law as his progeny. … and he, along with several politicians, is now working to expand the law so that people with dementia can be euthanized, provided they articulate their wishes in advance

Robert Cook said...

On the other hand, my mother, a conservative Republican, was a nurse who worked in hospitals and she came to believe that patients in vegetative comas should be euthanized, if their families requested it, to relieve the families of the misery and sorrow (and expense) of having loved ones who would never recover continue to live on physically.

I always argued against her, bringing up Hentoff's arguments to her, but she was adamant. She was focused on the particular instance, where we must be worried about the unintended consequences of the general rule.

hoyden said...

"Magical" sounds like a forced expression of enthusiasm to hide a less than celebratory event. An individual choosing suicide has a different feel about it than the state sanctioned remedy. Interesting.

Jim in St Louis said...

William- I'm sorry.

Not at all what we are talking about here. Your friend did what she did, but it was her actions. Belgium doctors are giving lethal drugs to patients who are suicidal. And doing it under the state mandated healthcare system.

CStanley said...

"At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life,"

traditionalguy said...

Falling into the hands of organized medical murderers is a terrible thing. Instead of fighting death and disability they side with Death and counsel surrender. It is analogous to an American ally falling into the hands of Barack Hussein Obama who organizes an impressive surrender to Death and injects them at the magic moment, like he did to Egypt and lusts to do to Israel.

Faith, hope and love are a man's real life goals. Surrender to death is the utter failure only being made attractive and abetted by those who smell the dead man's property.

Rick said...

Surely it's entirely coincidental the NYT is normalizing suicide for non-terminal illnesses shortly after Obamacare passage, a key yet dubious claim of which was the expectation it would decrease medical costs in the future.

sparrow said...

There have been cases where those presumed to be in a vegetative state were found later to be aware but immobile. This has been confirmed by some MRI studies as well. We really don't know that much about consciousness.

I remember when doctors took an oath to do no harm, now they do whatever suits them.

Larry J said...

Let me see if I have this right: European governments have no death penalty for murderers but at least some of them are fine by allowing doctors to kill innocent but sick people. They've pressured drug companies to stop the sales of the drugs used in lethal injection executions here in the US but allow lethal injection there. And they don't see any disconnect? At the risk of going all Godwin, you know who else had a very active euthanasia program back in the day, don't you?

MaxedOutMama said...

If we accept the proposition that the cure for a troublesome and difficult illness is to kill the person who has it, I don't see what need we will have for doctors.

This gives new and angstridden meaning to the old "Bury your mistakes."

All of modern medicine is based upon the idea that we can research and find ways to treat illness that was previously non-treatable. We have made vast strides in doing so - but accepting the "magical" theory of death would sort of freeze that in its tracks, wouldn't it??

hoyden said...

The Age of Obama seems like the celebration of the magical experience of committing social and national suicide.

Anglelyne said...

Robert Cook: I always argued against her, bringing up Hentoff's arguments to her, but she was adamant. She was focused on the particular instance, where we must be worried about the unintended consequences of the general rule.

Yes, it's remarkable how often intelligent people seem not to recognize that there are two serious problems here, the problem of individual suffering and the problem of unintended consequences. (Though I think "unintended" is not quite apt here. We know what the consequences are, we see them unfolding before us.)

William: She had a neurological condition that left her in intractable pain...We like to believe that life is a very special gift and that the pros of life always outweigh the cons. That's simply not true, but who wants to be made aware of that fact.

Really? Who's this "we" who don't understand that sometimes life is hell and agony?

In context, you seem to be implying that people who see the serious problems with legalizing euthanasia are somehow unaware of (or in denial about) suffering. Is so, why would you think that? Citing the very real problem of the suffering of people like your friend doesn't make the very real problems of legalized euthanasia go away.

Scott said...

"On the other hand, my mother, a conservative Republican..."

You ALWAYS inject politics into EVERYTHING, don't you Robert. I'm assuming you were reaching for irony. Well, it isn't ironic, it's gratuitous. One's political affiliation says damn little about their personal values.

EMD said...

At the risk of going all Godwin, you know who else had a very active euthanasia program back in the day, don't you?

The "Humane" Society?

MaxedOutMama said...

William - that is a sad story, but I don't want to let your seeming conclusion stand (that for a person in that situation, suicide is the best way).

There are many treatments for intractable pain. Your friend died from despair and not from illness.

No perfect human life exists. We are all doomed to suffer in life to some extent, and we all will eventually die.

The interplay between individual lives is what keeps us going, and whenever a society starts writing off lives it is subtly killing itself.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Surely it's entirely coincidental the NYT is normalizing suicide for non-terminal illnesses shortly after Obamacare passage, . . .

A stopped clock is right twice a day. I'll take it, whatever the reason.

The prohibition against euthanasia is cruel and unusual punishment for the physically and mentally suffering. I blame Christianity.

The Godfather said...

"Choice". Ain't it wonderful? We can "choose" to die, and a doctor will kill us. We can "choose" to kill our unborn child, and the child will be killed.

But we can't "choose" not to bake a cake for a Gay wedding. We can't "choose" a health insurance policy that doesn't include the Obamacare bells and whistles.

I wonder why.

CWJ said...

I've commented before that my wife and I are both only children and each the youngest by far of all our cousins. Natural children did not come to us. Barring accident, we will be quite literally alone and at the mercy of strangers as we age. If family history is any guide, my wife will be there to speak for me, but who will be there for her when I'm gone? Someone, perhaps even smiling, with the blessing of the state and then current sociopolitical morality, will kill us. It is the stuff of my nightmares.

The rationalizations increase and the only organized backlash I see is not against the dehumanization but rather against the Cassandras who try to warn us.

About 20 years ago, I told a colleague born at the tail end of the baby boom that because of our numbers and the inevitable decline of the dollar, society would collectively come to decide it couldn't afford us. We would be killed. He laughed in my face.

tim in vermont said...

"Death therapy," it's all in the movie "What about Bob."

Peter said...

Those who promoted a "right to die" (with physician assistance) once insisted that medically assisted suicide would be rare, and proceeded to offer extreme cases to justify why it should be permitted. Yet when and where it was permitted, it quickly expanded far beyond this scope to include those who were merely unhappy.

Those who continue to support such a "right" now insist that it will only be a "right," and never ever become an obligation. But how much confidence can anyone have in such assertions? Indeed, how sure are we today that no one who is inconveniently and/or expensively sick is pressured to "just end it already"?

MayBee said...

I support the right to die, but the current "end of discussion"/"how dare you question this" way of pushing social change makes me worry more than ever about slippery slopes.

carrie said...

I think that "magical" is a creepy word to use in this context and it makes me think that the doctor is really a licensed serial killer.

EMD said...

The guy's a regular David Copperfield.

Poof! Your life's disappeared!

John Lynch said...

It's not a right to die. It's a right to be murdered by request. That's what happens, that's what we should call it.

I'd prefer that we don't torture the language to say something that isn't true.

Talking mentally ill people into being murdered is very convenient for society, isn't it?

I agree with Robert Cook. Giving people with power the ability to murder the helpless is a really bad idea, whatever their intentions and whatever the justification.

Robert Cook said...

"You ALWAYS inject politics into EVERYTHING, don't you Robert. I'm assuming you were reaching for irony. Well, it isn't ironic, it's gratuitous."

No, I wasn't reaching for irony. I find it more common for some of the other regular commenters here to insert politics into subjects that don't warrant it, (mocking cries of "Boooosh!" or sincere insults of Obama, etc.). I mentioned my mother's politics because it is generally assumed--and is probably true--that those who favor physician-assisted death--euthaniasia--for gravely ill or vegetative patients tend to be left of center. (Although Nat Hentoff is certainly far left of center.) I wanted to point out that my mother's position had to do only with her experience with such patients in the hospital, and was actually counter to the typical conservative or Republican position.

Sebastian said...

"Magical" murder on request is not the telos of Enlightenment, is it?

John Lynch said...

I don't think Hentoff is easily characterized as left or right of anything. He's a jewish atheist who sounds like a Catholic when it comes to abortion or the death penalty. He's consistently Hentoff. If a consistent desire for human rights is left of center, then he certainly is.

Medical professionals have a lot of ideas because of the world they live in. It's like police officers and defense lawyers- what they do skews their view of people and society. It's best to keep that in mind. I don't think the medical worldview is appropriate in every case.

tim in vermont said...

(mocking cries of "Boooosh!")

I am willing to bet that ninety plus percent of the time you see this, if you look up thread, you will find a sputtering and spittle besplattered ARM spouting off about "Jr Bush" when pressed on some issue for which he has no answer.

Anonymous said...

Where doctors perform euthanasia on billionaire uncles and pronounce it "very magical."

Kentucky Packrat said...

The prohibition against euthanasia is cruel and unusual punishment for the physically and mentally suffering. I blame Christianity.

Let us make it plain: there is no practical prohibition against killing yourself. The US has guns, trains, poisons galore, and innumerable other ways one can choose to kill oneself. It is not a terribly hard proposition to off oneself; most people are either not suicidal or are too cowardly to off oneself.

Most doctors, in terminal cases, figure out ways to silently assist. My brother-in-law's cancer doctor gave him a bottle of 30 or more morphine capsules for pain, and strictly told him not to take 2 at a time, because 4 would put him in a coma and 6 to 8 would kill him. Translation: if you want to kill yourself, this is how. Nothing more was ever said, and my brother-in-law died at Hospice months later with his pain reasonably controlled and at peace.

Requiring doctors to abandon "first, do no harm" is ruining medicine. The goal is to save the patient and follow their instructions, not decide who deserves to live, and who would be "better off dead". That's not euthenasia, that's eugenics.

Static Ping said...

A country that is committing suicide on a continent that is committing suicide is really big into government endorsed suicide. Seems appropriate. Try to keep the infrastructure in decent working order for whomever inherits it.

The article itself was surprisingly good.

I agree that government legalized euthanasia is a terrible idea. It will be abused both officially and unofficially. These days anyone who denies the slippery slope is either lying or naive.

Brent said...

"It's a right to be murdered by request."

With all due respect and the issue aside, it is you who is torturing the language.

Murder has a legal definition. Legal euthanasia does not fit that definition because it is done with legal excuse and authority.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Now if only we could find out what drugs these Drs are administering and order a few batches for our correctional system...

Brent said...

This is a complicated moral issue. It is cruel to let someone die from a slow and painful disease. We will euthanize a suffering animal, but expect humans to endure that same pain, when we know it will lead to death.

As I read most of these posts, I see a lot of people scared of the bogeyman.

Some express fear that they themselves will be killed if someone in Belgium chooses assisted suicide. Mostly, people are scared of the slippery slope, and would therefore deny a non-gory and peaceful death to the women in Oregon with brain cancer.

I say, that is selfish. We are rationale human beings. Surely we can create laws with bright lines. Surely we can carve out clear cases where ethics allow for assisted-suicide. I think most would agree that Belgium has gone to far. But it is not inevitable that we will follow Belgium's path.

People can still chose to let their religion determine when it is moral and when it is not. There are many legal things that I consider immoral and would not take part of myself.

Sometimes compassion and love require difficult choices.

On a personal note, I watched my mom's sister suffer through a terrible Alzheimer spiral. She wasn't able to walk down steps due to the terror it caused her. Not even a few front porch steps. She defecated on herself. She couldn't even eat food near the end of her life for the lack of memory of how to eat. She had absolutely no quality of life and just suffered for several years until she died. I don't see the compassion in allowing her to suffer through that. Not giving people like her the option to end things peacefully and without the chance of pain or gore, is selfish. It feeds our own desire to not lose her. It protects us from our fear of the bogeyman.

John Lynch said...

Brent-

So murder isn't murder if the state changes the law? Something that was murder last year is now something different because someone changed the law.

OK, laws change all the time, but when it's people being killed I think the bar is higher.

Drago said...

Cookie: " I mentioned my mother's politics because it is generally assumed--and is probably true--that those who favor physician-assisted death--euthaniasia--for gravely ill or vegetative patients tend to be left of center. (Although Nat Hentoff is certainly far left of center.) I wanted to point out that my mother's position had to do only with her experience with such patients in the hospital, and was actually counter to the typical conservative or Republican position."

This is entirely plausible and not really all that uncommon when speaking about those who work directly with terminally ill patients. It can certainly lead to "strange bedfellows" scenarios.

Hentoff is simply one example (along with his pro-life ideas).

Brent said...

"So murder isn't murder if the state changes the law? Something that was murder last year is now something different because someone changed the law."

Of course. I don't see what is difficult to understand about that. Murder is a legal term of art. I has a defined meaning. If you don't want to torture the language, you must use it as it is defined.

John Lynch said...

No, I don't need to accept a definition that calls murder something other than murder. Why can't I define murder myself?

This is how societies do bad things to vulnerable people- by redefining language so that murder isn't murder. Either the people murdered aren't people, or murder is something other than murder.

There are many obvious examples of this in history ancient and modern.

Brent said...

"Why can't I define murder myself?"

Seriously? I was only responding to your accusation that others were torturing the language. Now you want to define words for yourself. What do you call that?

I don't think you understand what murder means. You are using it as a synonym for "killing." They are not synonyms.

But this isn't that important to me. I will let you have the last word if you want it...

JAORE said...

" euthanasia is embraced as an emblem of enlightenment and progress, a sign that the country has extricated itself from its Catholic, patriarchal roots...."

So, laws against euthanasia are "patriarchal"? Man, those wimmenz be a murderous lot.

n.n said...

So, abortion is either an [hidden] orientation of the child or a mother's projection of his will. It's what he would have wanted. I never considered the child's choice. This changes... something.

Coupe said...

One could say that after ...the country has extricated itself from its Catholic, patriarchal roots... that life becomes merely biological anyway.

Maybe also, one has nothing to do with the other.

Joe said...

It is WRONG to kill an innocent human being...be it before birth or at the end of one's life.

None of us past the age of accountability are innocent. Or do we really want to actually go there?

aberman said...

It appears that Belgium has found a way to solve its funding crises for psychiatric treatment. What's even better for Belgium is that their measurements of happiness will of necessity increase, since the least happy are being eliminated.

Julie C said...

My mother had Alzheimer's and was in a bad way. Not in pain, I don't think, but her quality of life was very poor.

When she finally got pneumonia, I did not allow the doctor to treat it and the hospice people took over and gave her comfort treatment. It was something of a revelation to me that some doctors (and family members) wanted to treat this even though she was 85, could no longer talk intelligibly, could hardly swallow her food, and was of course incontinent and almost immobile.

However, that is a far cry from actively killing someone. She died naturally, if you will, even though we have treatments for pneumonia about a week after she was diagnosed.

I am opposed to assisted suicide because it denies the humanity of those around the person who is ill. My children were able to spend five or more years seeing my mother and helping care for her (although she lived elsewhere not with us). I hope they learned lessons about compassion and patience. She wasn't always easy to deal with. If I lived in Belgium I guess we could have had her offed the minute she was diagnosed. How sad.

Anglelyne said...

Brent: As I read most of these posts, I see a lot of people scared of the bogeyman.

That's always an excellent way to persuade others - loftily explain that they're silly, irrational people who just don't have the experience and unique insight into suffering that you do. I mean, what are the odds that other people have experience of relatives with Alzheimer's, or cancer, or accidents that leave them completely paralyzed? Dementia, suffering, accidents - it all happens so rarely, no? I'm sure dissenters are just selfishly worried about death panels and willfully blind to anybody else's suffering.

I say, that is selfish. We are rationale human beings. Surely we can create laws with bright lines.

Are the Belgians and the Dutch not rational human beings? Did they deliberately set down unclear laws, or do you think they are still within the "bright lines" they drew for themselves?

Surely we can carve out clear cases where ethics allow for assisted-suicide.

Oh, one surely can. The problem is, who's the "we" here doing the carving? "We" don't share a common ethical culture. I am not religious, nor do I find euthanasia per se immoral. But damned if I'm happy with the idea of jumped-up lumpen-utilitarian "bioethicists" presuming to dictate society's ethical life.

I think most would agree that Belgium has gone to far. But it is not inevitable that we will follow Belgium's path.

No, but that would be the way to bet. At the very least, intelligent people should examine the precedents carefully instead of waving aside the real-world evidence aside in favor of theory and unfounded confidence that "we" could of course get it right.

People can still chose to let their religion determine when it is moral and when it is not.

Ha, which side of the deal, and whose "religion" are you referring to here?

Sometimes compassion and love require difficult choices.

No! Really?

[...Personal anecdote...]
Not giving people like her the option to end things peacefully and without the chance of pain or gore, is selfish. It feeds our own desire to not lose her. It protects us from our fear of the bogeyman.


Give it a rest, Oprah. How 'bout we ditch the puerile habit of accusing everybody who disagrees with us of being in the grips of an irrational "fear"? Rational adults understand that other rational adults can rationally disagree with their point of view. Apparently "we" aren't all rational adults here.

Brent said...

Julie, I completely empathize with the pain of what you went through.

However, from from a moral standpoint, I cannot see the moral distinction between allowing someone to die of pneumonia that could easily be treated and assisted suicide.

When a Christian Scientist knowingly allows her 13 year old daughter to die of treatable pneumonia, is that not terrible child abuse? Of course it is. But allowing a terminally ill and suffering parent to die is compassionate and loving. So is assisted suicide if chosen by the patient while lucid. There just ins't a rational distinction between the two. Would it be just as ethical to purposely give the patient pneumonia? What about purposely going around the patient with a bad case of the flu? Where you are drawing the line just doesn't make sense to me.

Is it because it is natural? Would a natural drug that causes death be ok then? Is it because God allowed her to get the pneumonia and therefore it was his plan to for her to die? If so, didn't he also give us the cure? Or the means to perform assisted suicide in a kind manner?

Hopefully I can say this in a sensitive manner. But your second justification focuses on everyone 's needs but the suffering patient. I am not second guessing the deep love you had for your mother and the care you took of your mother. Just questioning the basis for not allowing others to make a different choice.

CWJ said...

Brent @ 11:30,

Probably no one is left to read this much less you. But you are a coward, and worse. "Surely we can create laws with bright lines." Name one where that bright line stays put.

OK, on your personal note, why didn't your mother find a way to kill her sister? Why didn't you? Clearly "assisted suicide" wasn't the answer since she was in no condition to ask for death in a rational way. No you are a coward. You'd prefer to pervert the medical profession and the state to do the work for you out of sight so your hands are "clean" and you're free to pontificate about the selfishness of others for rationally fearing a slippery slope.

Brent said...

Angeleyne,

Of course the Belgians are rational human beings (unless you ask some Dutch). That isn't the issue. Throwing out a compassionate and good idea because one country got it wrong is terrible policy.

If you want to speak of real world examples, fine. Oregon has an assisted suicide law that has not drifted into all the dark places so many commentators think are inevitable. It isn't that difficult.

Your question of who the "we" is doing the carving isn't helpful. Some want to do the carving at "absolutely no assisted suicide," while I want to do it at a different place - which is for suffering-terminally ill patients. Why is their carving any better? It might be. But it should be debated and we should error on the side of freedom, in my opinion. Pointing out motivations that might lead to irrational behavior should be part of that debate.

As for your ending comments; you are being ridiculous. I don't accuse everyone who disagrees with me of being in the grips of irrational fear. I hardly see what that has to do with Oprah. But you sure got me there. How clever. This is the only issue I can even think of where I would make an accusation of fear; but only against some of the commentators here. Some comments made the irrational fear plain. One even claimed he predicted his baby-boomer death sentence long ago, and now it is coming true. That is ridiculous. I stand by by assertion.

Brent said...

CWJ, lucky for you, I happened to be stopping by to read your insight into my courage. I sure struck a nerve with a few of you.

One is not a coward for not committing murder, which it would be in my state. But more importantly, it should always be the patient's choice. I have no idea what my aunt wanted, what her children wanted, or what my mother even wanted. I only know what I would want. It is cowardly not to deal with difficult issues like this by simply denying others the freedom to chose.

As for my aunt's ability to ask - in a better system, the patient could make the decision at the diagnosis stage and define at what stage of the disease it would be carried out.

Christopher said...

Wow, I'm actually in complete agreement with Robert Cook.

Truly the end times are upon us.

Anglelyne said...

Brent: "If you want to speak of real world examples, fine. Oregon has an assisted suicide law that has not drifted into all the dark places so many commentators think are inevitable. It isn't that difficult."

Oh good grief, Brent. You know how to use Google, right? But hey, they're not yet counseling anorexics and transsexuals to off themselves (afaik), so what's the problem?

Your question of who the "we" is doing the carving isn't helpful.

What the hell does that even mean, "not helpful"? Who talks like that?

As we don't have a shared ethical culture, of course it matters. You are at least able to discern that you don't want the "absolutely no assisted suicide" people dictating your choices - i.e., you dimly recognize that there are other people out there whose views on assisted suicide don't jibe with your own. You own ethical stance is that we should always "err on the side of freedom". Dude, that isn't everyone's basic premise, and I don't just mean the "absolutely nots". Oddly, you think that anybody outside that "absolutely not" is surely in congruence with your own "bright line" views - or that, at any rate, people just like you will be the ones making all the decisions.

Pointing out motivations that might lead to irrational behavior should be part of that debate.

Yeah, I know, Brent. How do we spot these irrational people? They express some skepticism toward "bright lines" in a huge, dysfunctional health care system that must ration health care...

As for my aunt's ability to ask - in a better system, the patient could make the decision at the diagnosis stage and define at what stage of the disease it would be carried out.

...and where even without legalized euthanasia "living wills", etc. aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

Anonymous said...
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Brent said...

Angleyne,

That is your argument? - "google it." I say the law has stayed the same since enacted - physicians may prescribe a lethal dose of prescription drugs to state residents dying of a terminal illness and meeting other requirements. The burden is on you to point out where that is wrong. "Google it" doesn't prove anything.

To say that we don't have shared ethics doesn't mean that the people with the "no" position automatically win. That is what political debate is for and then democracy will decide the issue, as it did in Oregon.

Your argument is that because we have state healthcare, terminally ill patients must choose between a slow and painful death or a bloody, gory, painful, undignified, and/or unsuccessful suicide. The easier way to fix the problem of the state rationing health care is to not have the state provide healthcare. That is the better fix.

Furthermore, end of life healthcare should be rationed in the private market. It is ridiculous that we pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to add a few days, weeks, or months to the end of a very ill patient's life. That is irrational to force that cost on all of us, unless an individual wants to pay a premium for that end of life insurance.

As to living wills, they may not be legally enforceable against the doctor, but they make the patient's wishes clear and are much better than the doctor just deciding without the patient's input. They are worth more than you give them credit for.

In your world, we have imperfect systems in some areas, therefore nothing should be changed.

By the way, why are you so defensive and uptight about this issue? Are you capable of hearing positions that make you uncomfortable without getting so worked up? You come across as a child throwing a fit and thinking she is winning the debate because of it. You sometimes raise valid arguments, but they get muted by your "good grief" comments and dramatic style.