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assisted suicide?
Posted: 29 May 2012 06:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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I think we are on the same page. I agree it would be better for the public to discuss this subject in some intelligent fashion but as with many issues involving life and death there are marked differences of opinion among different segments of the population not the least of which are the strongly religious communities ( death panels anyone?).  The current state of affairs is that Kavorkian due to his own ineptitude squandered an opportunity for society to have an intelligent discussion on this issue. He was so extreme, socially and politically incompetent that even those who would otherwise support assisted suicide or humane end of life care as I would prefer to call it, distanced themselves from him because he was such a poor spokesman for the cause.

Since then most physicians have worked quietly in the background to provide their patients with a painless and humane exit in terminal cases because going public might endanger themselves and their patients right to death with dignity. This only addresses the easy cases though, those patients who would die in the next few days even without the physicians intervention. The tough cases are those patient who might live months, years , or decades longer without assisted suicide. Currently there is nothing we can do for them and perhaps nothing we should do for them, but those are the cases society really needs to develop policies for. Good luck getting a national consensus on that though.

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Posted: 31 May 2012 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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macgyver - 29 May 2012 06:23 PM

...This only addresses the easy cases though, those patients who would die in the next few days even without the physicians intervention. The tough cases are those patient who might live months, years , or decades longer without assisted suicide…

There is a middle group between these two classes of cases:  Persons who could live months, years or decades, but only if provided medical assistance to do so.  Persons in this group, I believe are commonly being given the option to deny that medical assistance and then provided with the “humane end of life care”.

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Posted: 31 May 2012 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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What do you think about terminating the life of babies born with severe medical problems? I think Peter Singer said it should be allowed up to the first year of the baby’s life, since they are not conscious anyway.

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Posted: 31 May 2012 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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George - 31 May 2012 10:36 AM

What do you think about terminating the life of babies born with severe medical problems? I think Peter Singer said it should be allowed up to the first year of the baby’s life, since they are not conscious anyway.

You were probably directing this to MacGyver, whose thoughts I would also like to read.  My thought is that babies born with severe medical problems often overcome these to some degree or another, even unexpectedly so at times.  Thus I would be opposed to terminating the life of a baby or hastening it’s death.  Perhaps there could be some extreme case, in which it could be acceptable or warranted, but I don’t know what that would be.

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Posted: 31 May 2012 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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George - 31 May 2012 10:36 AM

What do you think about terminating the life of babies born with severe medical problems? I think Peter Singer said it should be allowed up to the first year of the baby’s life, since they are not conscious anyway.

I don’t treat children and am not really familiar with the ethical arguments regarding end of life care in them. Its really hard though to have a blanket policy when it comes to human life. There are babies who are born anencephalic which essentially means they dont have much more than a brain stem with no higher mental functions. It may sound cold but these babies really are just a body with no conscious being inside. A baby can;t overcome this because they can’t grow a brain if they weren’t born with one. You could make an argument I assume that these are not living human beings but even this has met with resistance in some circles.

I really think each case has to be decided on a case by case basis after discussion with the family to avoid a backlash from anyone who might fear that society was taking away the right to such an important decision.

While we re on the subject if everyone here hasnt already done it, obtain a living will and fill it out. You dont need a lawyer, most states have a boilerplate document on the web that you can download and complete. Its also important to discuss with your family what your wishes are since the living will may not make it to the doctor, no living will can ever address ever potential situation, and even if you have one the family might over rule what it says if they are caught by surprise by the things you wrote in it. Even more importantly complete a Health Care Proxy and assign someone you trust to be your health care proxy.This person will be the one who can legally make decisions about your care if you can’t. This is probably the single most important document you can have if you want your wishes respected. It will reduce the probability of family members squabbling over who has the right to make decisions for you and arguing over what you would want them to do.

This is the Health Care Proxy form we use in NY - http://www.health.ny.gov/forms/doh-1430.pdf. It may be valid in other states too but check your own states web site for a local version

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Posted: 31 May 2012 04:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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TimB - 31 May 2012 10:23 AM

There is a middle group between these two classes of cases:  Persons who could live months, years or decades, but only if provided medical assistance to do so.  Persons in this group, I believe are commonly being given the option to deny that medical assistance and then provided with the “humane end of life care”.

Everyone has the right to refuse medical treatment of any sort not just extreme measures like ventilator support. The important thing as I mentioned above is to have this discussion with your family in advance and get the appropriate paperwork in order. You may not have a chance to do it later. I have seen patients put through a lot of senseless and painful treatments because families were racked with guilt or couldn’t agree on what the patient would really want. In such cases they often ask for everything to be done even when it shouldnt be.

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Posted: 31 May 2012 09:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Whatever your thoughts abt a “good” death, it has to be better than this:

http://site.christinasymanski.com/

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Posted: 31 May 2012 09:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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George - 31 May 2012 10:36 AM

What do you think about terminating the life of babies born with severe medical problems? I think Peter Singer said it should be allowed up to the first year of the baby’s life, since they are not conscious anyway.

Singer said it should be left to the parents to decide, but not to be considered a criminal act.

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Posted: 02 June 2012 02:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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I think it should be legalized with strict restrictions. For example, I don’t believe an otherwise healthy teen going through growth angst should be assisted in a suicide, not matter how insistent. Psychiatric care would be more appropriate. While Dr Kervorkian brought assisted suicide into the public sphere, I think he was more into assisting the suicides rather than actually caring about the people. Although some cases were just plain common sense, he made no effort to verify the stories or histories of the people who came to him. Research shows that people who are stopped from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge or survive the fall, rarely attempt a suicide again. I wonder how many of those who were not actually physically ill (and there were some), received proper mental health care. Our mental health system is in shambles, I wonder how many, if assisted by a mental health professional, would have been able to go on and lead a productive and satisfying life. I am speaking from the position of someone who HAS suffered from a deep depression in the past, and was able to get appropriate help.

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Posted: 02 June 2012 03:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Delving a little deeper, is there a moral imperative to deny any adult the right to end their life for any reason?
Does it make a difference if “they might have lived a full and rewarding life” ? After you’re dead does anything make a difference?

[ Edited: 02 June 2012 03:43 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 02 June 2012 04:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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That’s an interesting point, Write4U.  It connects with the very active thread about medical costs.  I think that there is a very awkward question which comes up: What is a life worth?  How should we value it?  What are we willing to pay?

My father, a retired pathologist, is fond of making the statement that considering the expensive drugs and technical advances in medicine, and barring sudden death, most people can exhaust their financial resources on their final illness, and that before these developments dying was pretty inexpensive.  Doctors did the best they could to manage pain, and gave support to the patient and family, (the caring, kind physician of the good old days). He also says that if you’re in intensive care it is very unlikely that you’ll die, but that doesn’t mean you will get better.  This means we’re going to have to start making decisions about dying. 

It is probably not realistic to expect that as a society we can provide the highest levels of care to every individual at any point in their lives, (although if the investment in the military industrial complex was used for making health care available it might go a long way).  So, how do we make that sort of decision?  I think you can make it for yourself.  I think it would be a great transgression of my personal ethics to bankrupt my family or my community in an unrealistic attempt to extend my life.  I should be able to make the decision to call it quits and do so with dignity and support.  The main issues I see are: 1. Legality.  I believe suicide is still a criminal act, and assisting anyone, (and people do need assistance), gets you a long prison term.  2. Courage.  It’s easy to sit here middle aged and healthy and say that if I were diagnose with an incurable condition I’d be willing to end my life before treatment reached a crippling cost but I haven’t been tested….yet.and 3. Process. How do you do it well and with dignity in a way that is kind and caring to the people around you.

I’ve lived a pretty profligate life and when I can no longer work things will get pretty thin, so I think about this stuff.  Realizing that I may choose to commit suicide, rather than end my days in drawn out in misery has allowed me to live a much less restricted life.  I don’t have any regrets right now, but I do hope my moral fiber and courage hold up in the less and less distant future.

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Posted: 02 June 2012 04:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Write4U - 02 June 2012 03:06 AM

Delving a little deeper, is there a moral imperative to deny any adult the right to end their life for any reason?
Does it make a difference if “they might have lived a full and rewarding life” ? After you’re dead does anything make a difference?

I may be deluded, but I like to think I made a small difference in the world while I am here. Others may not care. Yes, it does make a difference to me if the person is a teen seeking assisted suicide because he/she just broke up with his/her girlfriend, or got into an accident in his/her parents car and they believed their parents were going to be very angry.

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Posted: 02 June 2012 04:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Jeciron,
I think that there is a very awkward question which comes up: What is a life worth?  How should we value it?  What are we willing to pay?

What is someone else’s interest in my life anyway? I know what my life is worth, how I should value it, and what I am willing to pay for it.
But can anyone else tell me how I should make these value judgements?

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Posted: 02 June 2012 04:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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asanta - 02 June 2012 04:26 AM
Write4U - 02 June 2012 03:06 AM

Delving a little deeper, is there a moral imperative to deny any adult the right to end their life for any reason?
Does it make a difference if “they might have lived a full and rewarding life” ? After you’re dead does anything make a difference?

I may be deluded, but I like to think I made a small difference in the world while I am here. Others may not care. Yes, it does make a difference to me if the person is a teen seeking assisted suicide because he/she just broke up with his/her girlfriend, or got into an accident in his/her parents car and they believed their parents were going to be very angry.

I stipulated “adults”, and I understand your position as nurse dedicated to help people in distress.
But what about a recruiter for the military? Is it moral to post a sign that says, “join the army and see the world”, then to sent me into war to ‘give my life for your country”. What then is the value of my life?

I am not taking a position on this, just probing for clear answers, if they exist.

[ Edited: 02 June 2012 04:44 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 02 June 2012 04:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Write4U  


What is someone else’s interest in my life anyway? I know what my life is worth, how I should value it, and what I am willing to pay for it.
But can anyone else tell me how I should make these value judgements?

I suppose the ugly answer is that other people have a right to be involved in those decisions when their own resources are at stake.  It is somehow upsetting to think that, but it is the calculation that groups of individuals living with limited resources have always had to make and accept, for example: Inuit and Pacific island societies.  In saying that, I’m very aware that there are a lot of people I would rather not have a say about the value of my life.

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