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Death with Dignity laws

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An interesting article I was reading today in the paper.

 

http://m.smh.com.au/world/cancer-patient-brittany-maynard-29-has-scheduled-her-death-20141009-113e81.html

 

Should death with dignity laws be passed? If they have already been passed in your area, what are your opinions on its effect?

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Oh my goodness i could never even imagine. If anything im going down fighting.

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Yeah, that's a tricky one. On one hand, I don't support the taking of life in any form. On the other hand, forcing someone to endure months of continual agony and degredation in physical and mental ability until they die seems like a very literal form of torture.

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Yeah, that's a tricky one. On one hand, I don't support the taking of life in any form. On the other hand, forcing someone to endure months of continual agony and degredation in physical and mental ability until they die seems like a very literal form of torture.

This is too true.

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I actually wrote a paper on on euthanasia recently. It's one of those questions its really hard to grip because unless you are in the position you can't really know what your reaction. Canada does not have active euthanasia. There have been a few recent attempts to pass laws on it, but all have failed in the House of Commons. My personal opinion is that people should have the right to end there lives. Life is more than just being physically alive, and forcing people to continue an existence that would be unbearable to most is cruel. Note, I think it should be under a Doctor's order, so that no one tries to take advantage of the situation.

 

I would recommend watching The Suicide Plan, a Frontline special on PBS if you want more on the topic

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HERE is an opinion piece on the article mentioned above. While I may support the choice, this article brings up an interesting point about the narrative being set. 
 

"If you are saying that it is dignified and brave for a cancer patient to kill themselves, what are you saying about cancer patients who don’t? What about a woman who fights to the end, survives for as long as she can, and withers away slowly, in agony, until her very last breath escapes her lungs?

Is that person not brave? Is that person not dignified? I thought we applaud that kind of person. I thought we admire her courage and tenacity. Sorry, you can’t advance two contradictory narratives at once. If fighting cancer is brave then it is brave PRECISELY BECAUSE she is fighting it rather than giving up and choosing death."

 

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I really can't imagine any scenario where I would make use of such laws if they were enacted. When I was young, my grandfather had a progressive case of Alzheimer's, which can be incredibly difficult to watch your loved ones undergo. The last time I saw him, he didn't really recognize me and sometimes didn't recognize even his own kids. Still, I think those last 18 months or so were incredibly precious to my dad and his siblings. While I'm hesitant to say that's normally the case, I think going down fighting is the better path.

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HERE is an opinion piece on the article mentioned above. While I may support the choice, this article brings up an interesting point about the narrative being set. 

 

"If you are saying that it is dignified and brave for a cancer patient to kill themselves, what are you saying about cancer patients who don’t? What about a woman who fights to the end, survives for as long as she can, and withers away slowly, in agony, until her very last breath escapes her lungs?

Is that person not brave? Is that person not dignified? I thought we applaud that kind of person. I thought we admire her courage and tenacity. Sorry, you can’t advance two contradictory narratives at once. If fighting cancer is brave then it is brave PRECISELY BECAUSE she is fighting it rather than giving up and choosing death."

 

I disagree with the writer's assertion that, if one lauds the bravery of one's decision to end their own life, that somehow implies those who decide to fight on are not brave and vice versa. It's too simplistic. I think most people understand that having cancer is one of those situations that is so difficult and extraordinary that it is hard to see a right answer. One's bravery, in such a situation, is shown not exactly by the decision they make but the fact that they do make a decision. If confronted with such a situation, I think the natural reaction would be to crawl up into a ball and think, "Why me? What did I do to deserve this?" and to freeze. I'm not saying this reaction is to be despised (it's a natural and understandable reaction) but to succumb to the disease mentally in such a way is the contra-distinction to the concept of someone being brave in such a situation. When the fall is all there is, it matters.

 

Whether one chooses to fight on and live, or to die by their own making, I think the either decision has the potential to be brave. It is not a zero-sum equation. In this case, I think this lady probably is brave (even though, I have a deep dislike for social media's tendency for bandwagoning - which is why I never comment on such topics). If it were me, I would hang on to hope. I've seen many cases where a situation looks determined and settled but, just at the last moment, something happens that completely changes it. Of course, much easier for me to say. If I was living in constant agony, then maybe I would thinking differently. And, it may be that the evidence before her is such that it is almost certain that no break through will be forthcoming.

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Good points. I also thought about the aspect of it not really being a zero-sum game, but what would then make you not brave? I guess that only leaves doing nothing. But then again, even by doing nothing, your not completely giving up, and your still facing the agony of living with the disease. 

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I agree with someone's right to die rather than go through undue suffering. In the US we show more compassion to suffering pets than our own populous. Some are against it but it's mostly religious people that condemn suicide. Unless you're in that position you can never know what it's like so I don't damn anyone wanting an easier way to end their pain. To be clear, I do mean people suffering with an actual terminal illness, not some 15 year old that has a bad day. Personally it's not for me, as Zygon said, I am a fighter but not everyone is made the same. Plus it's a good alternative to someone killing themselves in horrible ways when a doctor could put them out of their misery.

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To be clear, I do mean people suffering with an actual terminal illness, not some 15 year old that has a bad day. 

This is one of the big practical problems for me - as soon as something is available, people will always try to push the boundaries. Many things, such as plastic surgery, divorce, abortion, Caesarian Section births (controversial list, I know) are all good things for deserving cases, but are increasingly becoming about convenience rather than necessity. Because suffering is a subjective thing, different patients will have different views on how bad they are, and different doctors (or whoever makes the decision) will have different views on who should be allowed to take this option. Then there is the minefield of patient vs. family. Lots of fertile ground for lawyers, sadly.

There is just too big a big grey area here, even laying aside the moral, ethical and religious issues that it raises.

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