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JSUCamel
08-09-2009, 10:37 PM
http://www.boingboing.net/2009/08/07/terry-pratchett-on-t.html

I write this as someone who has, regrettably, become famous for having Alzheimer's. Although being famous is all the rage these days, it's fame I could do without.

I know enough to realise there will not be a cure within my lifetime and I know the later stages of the disease can be very unpleasant. Indeed, it's the most feared disease among the over-65s.

Naturally, I turn my attention to the future. There used to be a term known as 'mercy killing'. I cannot believe it ever had any force in law but it did, and still does, persist in the public consciousness, and in general the public consciousness gets it right.

We would not walk away from a man being attacked by a monster, and if we couldn't get the ravening beast off him we might well conclude that some instant means of less painful death would be preferable before the monster ate him alive...

I am enjoying my life to the full, and hope to continue for quite some time. But I also intend, before the endgame looms, to die sitting in a chair in my own garden with a glass of brandy in my hand and Thomas Tallis on the iPod - the latter because Thomas's music could lift even an atheist a little bit closer to Heaven - and perhaps a second brandy if there is time.

Oh, and since this is England I had better add: 'If wet, in the library.'

Who could say that is bad? Where is the evil here?

Hopper
08-10-2009, 05:18 AM
If we subjected our pets to what we do our terminally sick, it would be called cruelty.

GonzoTheGreat
08-10-2009, 05:58 AM
But those pets have rights.

Brita
08-10-2009, 08:57 AM
Who could say that is bad? Where is the evil here?

There is no evil here, per se. The evil, of course, comes if a person needs assitance to die. In legitimate cases like this one, this is not an evil. But it is unavoidable that this will be misused, and murder will happen in the name of mercy. The ramifications can (and will) spawn acts of evil. But such is life and human nature, I suppose.

That being said, I am an advocate of "mercy killings". But we can't be simplistic about it. It is a difficult, complicated and thorny subject, wrought with hazzards and consequences.

If we subjected our pets to what we do our terminally sick, it would be called cruelty.
We do not need a pet's consent to euthanize it, we have determined we have the authority to make the decision for it. So extrapolating euthanasia of animals to euthanasia of humans sounds convincing, but falls a little short of the mark. The consequences are vastly different, and far more profound.

Jokeslayer
08-10-2009, 09:18 AM
We do not need a pet's consent to euthanize it, we have determined we have the authority to make the decision for it. So extrapolating euthanasia of animals to euthanasia of humans sounds convincing, but falls a little short of the mark. The consequences are vastly different, and far more profound.

Only because you put humans above animals. What happens if you don't do that, or if you put some humans above others?

Ivhon
08-10-2009, 09:24 AM
Writing ethics papers about this now. As Brita says, very very thorny. Best thing to do is to get yourself a living will directive and a medical power of attorney. If you don't want to be kept around in perpetual limbo, it is best that you not designate close family members (particularly parents) as medical power of attorney, since they have a tendency to get irrational and refuse to let you go in peace.

More coffee please...16 pages to go.

Brita
08-10-2009, 09:38 AM
Only because you put humans above animals. What happens if you don't do that, or if you put some humans above others?

Should we start killing each other for food, or hunt each other for fun? Yes, I think our interactions with other humans is governed by a vastly different set of ethical principles than our interactions with animals. It has nothing to do with where we put ourselves, and everything to do with maintaining the fabric of our society.

Good luck on your papaer Ivhon- I would love to read it when you're done.

GonzoTheGreat
08-10-2009, 09:47 AM
We do not need a pet's consent to euthanize it, we have determined we have the authority to make the decision for it. So extrapolating euthanasia of animals to euthanasia of humans sounds convincing, but falls a little short of the mark. The consequences are vastly different, and far more profound.Yes, but this case here is one where the human actually does give consent. Yet still, despite that, a rabbit in such a situation might be given a merciful death, while the human has to suffer.

The question here is not what to do in cases where the individual involved can't give consent; that question deserves a thread of its own.
Best thing to do is to get yourself a living will directive and a medical power of attorney.Neither helps at all if you say "I want to die now". At least, not in the case here (that of Terry Pratchett).

Ivhon
08-10-2009, 09:48 AM
Should we start killing each other for food, or hunt each other for fun? Yes, I think our interactions with other humans is governed by a vastly different set of ethical principles than our interactions with animals. It has nothing to do with where we put ourselves, and everything to do with maintaining the fabric of our society.

Good luck on your papaer Ivhon- I would love to read it when you're done.

12 short essay responses to various topics regarding Dax Cowart. Then expanding one of those into a 10 page babble. Not sure if what I expand on is really going to have much to do with health care. Or maybe it will. Must....keep....typing.

Oatman
08-10-2009, 09:51 AM
I've had family members pass away slowly from degenerative diseases, and the state they were in when they finally passed isn't the state I'd like to remember them in, and I'm positive it isn't the state they'd like to be remembered in.
Maybe it's because I'm still a youngin, but I'd prefer to end my life while retaining some dignity, as opposed to become a husk of who I was. Of course, not everyone feels this way and that's fine, it really is a personal choice.
On the other side of the coin, I also experienced the suicide of my father when I was young, so I know how devastating it can be when someone close to you chooses to end their own life. It should never be a decision that is taken lightly.
Any euthanising of people should be heavily regulated, and the process would have to involve input from the individual, family, psychologists, and medical experts. If I thought the process could be abused in any way, I wouldn't support it.

Ivhon
08-10-2009, 09:54 AM
Yes, but this case here is one where the human actually does give consent. Yet still, despite that, a rabbit in such a situation might be given a merciful death, while the human has to suffer.

The question here is not what to do in cases where the individual involved can't give consent; that question deserves a thread of its own.
Neither helps at all if you say "I want to die now". At least, not in the case here (that of Terry Pratchett).

Well...Pratchett has a few options. He can sign the directives and the power of attorney against the day that his dementia has progressed to the point of incompetence. Couple that with moving to Washington or Oregon (or Dutchieland, I know) and he/his proxy can get assisted suicide when the time comes (must be 6 months or less to live, I think).

Or, being of sound mind and finger, he can watch his sunset, drink his wine and take care of the whole thing himself. I know that sounds harsh, but I really don't mean it that way. I believe an individual has a right to die and in some situations I dont even think it is a copout.

Brita
08-10-2009, 10:02 AM
Yes, but this case here is one where the human actually does give consent. Yet still, despite that, a rabbit in such a situation might be given a merciful death, while the human has to suffer.

The question here is not what to do in cases where the individual involved can't give consent; that question deserves a thread of its own.


Indeed. But there can be no denying that euthanizing animals is simple, ethically speaking. But human euthanasia is far more complicated. What if the person cannot give consent, like you suggested. Or, how do we know the person wasn't influenced by their family member to request euthanasia? Or, how do we assure the person is of capable mind to make that decision? Or, how do we address cultural differences in consenting someone for euthanasia? Or, what do we do if a 90 year old man is killed by his wife and she says he begged her to do it?

The fact that we euthanize animals is inevitably brought up, and it is a valid point, but a very small one in the plethora of issues involved with human euthnasia.

Oatman
08-10-2009, 10:33 AM
What if the person cannot give consent, like you suggested

If a person is in a state where they can't give consent, I'm of the opinion nothing should be done. Playing devils advocate, I can see the logic behind giving the person with medical power of attorney the power to decide. They are usually(I would assume) a close family member who would act according to what the person would have wanted.

Or, how do we know the person wasn't influenced by their family member to request euthanasia?

That's definitely an issue, which is why I would suggest the individual and close family members see a psychologist a few times before anything goes ahead.

Or, how do we assure the person is of capable mind to make that decision?

Again, just send them in for a few psychologist appointments. If they are unwavering in that desire, over a period of time, chances are they know what they want.

Or, how do we address cultural differences in consenting someone for euthanasia?

Sorry, I don't see how cultural differences make a difference beyond personal preference. I don't think anyone would propose forced euthanasia.

Or, what do we do if a 90 year old man is killed by his wife and she says he begged her to do it?

If there was a legalised euthanasia, the man would have an option other than asking his wife.

Crispin's Crispian
08-10-2009, 10:43 AM
Or, what do we do if a 90 year old man is killed by his wife and she says he begged her to do it?

This just happened here, except it was a man killing his wife, and both were 51 years old. It's pretty tragic, depending on which story you believe (or perhaps regardless of which story you believe).

I think you just have to make sure that whatever laws you put in place, you also add protections. I think assisted suicide probably happens a lot more than the public perception, which is pretty scary if there aren't any legal protections.