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assisted suicide?
Posted: 02 June 2012 01:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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skuld - 31 May 2012 09:36 PM

Whatever your thoughts abt a “good” death, it has to be better than this:

http://site.christinasymanski.com/

The reason I asked the original question is that someone sent me this story about (for people who haven’t read it) an artist who was paralyzed as result of a spinal chord injury, and starved herself to death 6 years after injury.

That just boggles my mind. Shouldn’t there have been a more humane way to handle this?  ohh

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Posted: 03 June 2012 01:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Write4U - 02 June 2012 04:39 AM

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.

Nursing is a little more complicated than that…
Part of my job is also to help families and patients through death. To make it as comfortable as I possibly can. We once had an ancephalic infant on our unit for several years because the family refused to withdraw support. You’d better believe this affects the morale of the entire unit. The insurance company tried everything to convince them to withdraw support, including giving them a year of free psychiatric therapy after the birth of the child, trying to convince them to learn to care for the child on a ventilator at home, to refusing to cover the cost of the care (@ $20,000/day) We also had meetings because there had been some cases like this where right to lifers picketed the homes of the doctors and nurses as well as the schools of their children carrying signs saying Dr or nurse so-and-so is a murderer. We decided we wanted to go forth. The pickets did not appear, the family sued, the hospital said they would spend every cent they had before paying a dime. As far as I know, they did not pay them. The child had NO brain, at.all. We took excellent care of the infant.

We talk to parents about whether treatment is futile, and about the goals of the treatment. We do not give hope where there is none. We empower children to tell their parents ‘enough’. I have been present for far too many deaths to count anymore, and my goal is to make it as comforting to the family and patient as possible.

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Posted: 20 June 2012 08:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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I can’t process the thought of this in my mind.  I guess i still need to understand it more. I agree that you should not prolong someone’s agony but I also believe in god is the only one who can take our lives. so confusing.:(

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Posted: 21 June 2012 05:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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ambermollers - 20 June 2012 08:43 PM

... but I also believe in god is the only one who can take our lives.

Well, from the description of god in the bible, he does really seem to enjoy it.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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ambermollers - 20 June 2012 08:43 PM

I can’t process the thought of this in my mind.  I guess i still need to understand it more. I agree that you should not prolong someone’s agony but I also believe in god is the only one who can take our lives. so confusing.:(

We euthanize animals when quality of life decreases and medical treatment will only delay, perhaps painfully, the inevitable. There should be many checks and double checks and triple checks in the case of applying this to humans, but I still think it should be an option.

Presumably you believe the soul moves on with death, so why does keeping it locked it into a failing meat shell seem like a more humane option? Wouldn’t god know, in the case of assisted suicide, that those assisting were trying to ease the person’s suffering? Or even if ‘self-inflicted’ that they were easing their own suffering?

(My convictions are based solely on suicide as an option to avoid a painful lingering death; not depression, et al.)

Take care,

Derek

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Posted: 21 June 2012 06:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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I certainly agree that some form of assisted suicide should be legal, but I also know that decisions about life and death are rarely simple or amenable to decision by the application of a general principle or rule.

As a vet, I euthanize animals alll the time, and I do agree that it is a vital humane service to individual patients who are suffering. However, I’ve been a doctor long enough to recognize the limits of my ability to predict the future. Some patients recovered that I would never believed had a chance, which makes me leary of strong statements about prognosis. And yet, people making euthanasia decisions want to know what will happen if they do or don’t treat in order to base their decision on that, and it’s hard for everyone when the reality is nobody knows for sure. So when is the “right time” is the first challenge, and while it can sometimes be very clear, it is more often quite muddy.

Quality of life is also not easy to assess, especially for patients who can’t give me their own opinion (though as Asanta pointed out, sometimes the patient’s wishes are influenced by depression or other factors which raise the question of whether they should be heeded). When does suffering reach a point where it justifies the decision to end life? And while one could argue it is no decision but the person whose life it is, I think that’s a bit naive. Very few of us live in a social vaccuum, and to imagine our choices aren’t going to affect others or that others don’t have legitimate reasons to want to help us even in ways we may not immediately want them to isn’t realistic. The balance between autonomy and one’s relationships with others is complex and cannot be easily codified.

And some people in my field appear to seek absolution from their vet for euthanasia when their reasons have less to do with the patient’s suffering than with the owner’s emotions, finances, or other interests which may differ from the patient’s. It is very challenging to balance my own conscience and beliefs, my ethical responsibility to the patient, and my responsibility to the client, who, in a legal sense at least, owns the patient, and who pays the bills and is the only one I can communicate directly with. Sometimes I feel pets should be euthanized when owners are unwilling, often for reasons I may not feel are legitimate even though I am ethically and legally obliged to respect (including religious belief and an inability to face the reality of the pet’s condition or the responsibility I think an owner has to act on their pet’s behalf even when it is painful). In other cases, people want to euthanize when I feel it isn’t appropriate, or they are forced to cease treatment because they can’t afford it even when the medical problem is fixable. The number of variables and permutations is enormous, and simple rules don’t help much in real-word situations.

So while I appreciate that reference to veterinary euthanasia is understandable as an example of why euthanasia in principle can be a good thing and should be available for humans, and I agree with this, being involved in veterinary euthanasia almost daily has given me a glimpse into the complexities and ambiguities associated with making decisions about ending life intentionally for compassionate reasons. I don’t envy the healthcare providers who will have to be a part of these decisions when this eventualy becomes an accepted practice for people.

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