Do you support Euthanasia?

March 17th, 2008 at 8:54 am by David Farrar

, like any issue to do with death, is a highly emotional issue. I used to be against it, but changed my mind after the death of Martin Hames in 2003.

sebire.JPG

The photo above is of Chantal Sebire who has appealed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy to allow her to die by euthanasia.

Sebire suffers from esthesioneuroblastoma, which attacks the nasal cavity. She has lived without a sense of smell and taste since 2000 and now the tumour has evolved and eaten into her jaws, and then eye sockets, leaving her blind since last year.

She suffers from “atrocious bouts of pain that can last up to four hours at a time”.

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23 Responses to “Do you support Euthanasia?”

  1. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    sheesh..!..dpf..!

    abortion yesterday..euthanasia today..

    is this what is known as ‘dog-whistle-blogging’..?

    (and..what’s next..?..dogs biting children..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

    [DPF: As issues come up in the news, I blog them if they resonate with me.]

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  2. BlairM (2,339 comments) says:

    Only she can decide the value of her own life and therefore only she can take it. There may be rare examples where a person is physically incapable of killing themselves, but she does not seem to be one of these.

    I suppose I support her freedom to purchase a lethal dose of morphine for herself. But I think it is wrong for her to ask others to help end her life. People who do that, to my mind, by definition, want to live, and think that by abdicating responsibility for their existence to others, they can absolve themselves of “sinning” against themselves.

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  3. RossK (275 comments) says:

    Lets call it what it is. Suicide. We are now saying that sometimes suicide is rational (presumably no one is advocating that society would stand by and let someone irrationally kill themselves in the name of preserving their own property rights in themselves).

    That is a very slippery slope.

    More concerning is that there seem to be two different rationales for allowing it – one is freedom of choice, while the other is prevention of pain and sufering.

    Presumably freedom of choice on its own doesn’t validate / justify suicide. In which case there must be a level of pain and sufffering required – but who decides how much is enough to render irrational suicide rational voluntary euthanasia.

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  4. infused (654 comments) says:

    Philu shut the hell up for god sake. Shit seems to flow from your mouth constantly.

    I agree with BlairM. I always have on this issue.

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  5. Nicholas O'Kane (168 comments) says:

    Yesterday, David, you had a good post about abortion law. Although I strongly disagree with your views about abortion, you are completely right when you point out that the law is being applied very differently to how it was intended, and that “mental health” is being used as an excuse for abortion on demand.

    The lesson here is that the pro-death lobby will always skew laws to achieve what they want, the killing of all life, unborn or terminally ill they deem unfit. Other good examples of this include Roe vs Wade, in which the US Supreme Court invented a right to abortion, despite the constitution not once mentioning abortion, or any issue related to abortion explicitly, and the judicial murder of Terri Schiavo a few years ago, because her husband wanted her dead.

    The pro-death lobby are very good at using hard cases, such as rape victims wanting abortions or this women, to push for euthanasia and abortion on demand.

    Until our abortion laws are strictly enforced, I have absolutely no confidence that any future euthanasia law will not lead to the involuntary killing of any comatose person.

    It is important to remember that Peter Browns death with dignity Bill, it would have enabled the “euthanasia” of mentally disabled children with incurable illnesses, like Autism and Downs syndromme. Is this what we want?

    This is part of a slippery slope to a culture of death, which started when we accepted abortion (taking of unborn life) as right, using a few hard cases (e.g. rape) as trojan horses, and now the pro-death brigade are using the suffering of a few elderly sick people as trojan horses to change the law to enable killing of mentally disabled children.

    I don’t want to sound too demagogic here, but once you start treating killing people as a solution to your societies problems and loose respect for the sanctity of life, and you start killing unwanted people who are an inconveniance to you, and you loose any absolute moral values, you end up looking a bit like Nazi Germany.

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  6. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    Nicholas, yet you are sounding demagogic. How dare you believe you have the right to decide whether or not a woman like the one above can choose to end her life of agony?

    There is no “pro-death” brigade. She should have the right to request her life be terminated without pain. Your belief that you know better, without any good faith desire to find a way to let those who can express themselves clearly to die, is arrogance beyond contempt. I appreciate it is difficult when a person is not conscious and not able to express clear and present will – but this is NOT the case now. You take her pain away and cure her, or let her have her wish. You don’t own her body, so don’t decide what she asks others to do with it.

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  7. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    A lot of opposition to euthanasia comes from Christianity and our Christian heritage. The ancient Romans thought it was okay, e.g. the expression “fall on your sword” comes from those times, but they believed in slavery, too, and the crucifixion for those slaves who revolted. In a secular society how do we judge euthanasia?

    Personally, I’ve always thought it irrational that we will mercy kill a dog or a horse but oppose self-inflicted mercy killing even in the most extreme cases of incurable suffering.

    Practical problems include such things as the effects of euthanasia on insurance policies, the role of any second party, who decides what is incurable and how do you measure suffering?

    Let’s not get into slogans such as “pro death brigade”, which can easily be responded to with slogans like “mercy from suffering brigade”.

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  8. Hoolian (220 comments) says:

    Nicholas, yet you are sounding demagogic. How dare you believe you have the right to decide whether or not a woman like the one above can choose to end her life of agony?

    And yet this comes from the same voice who advocates that the unborn child should have no such right to decide for themselves? Demagogic? No that’s a trick that the so-called ‘pro-death’ people use, and I do not use that term lightly. This photo is exactly what pro-euthanasia lobbies want us to see. It’s expected that anyone who opposes euthanasia is somehow uncompassionate and merciless, who seeks to prolong this woman’s suffering and that our words are edged with cruelty and our own desperate selfishness to impose on the world a universal suffering based on our gratuitous wishes. This is plainly not true.

    All anti-euthanasia groups are based on the ideal that life is so sacred that even in our most tumultuous times we must endure. We cannot allow a society which chooses for us when we die.

    She should have the right to request her life be terminated without pain.

    So why doesn’t she leap off a bridge or OD? Isn’t that the same thing?

    When some teenager purposely walks in front of a train or a family member is found hanging from the rafters with a rope around their neck, the pain and agony surrounding this is immense and resonates through people unlike anything else. Why? Because ultimately (and intrinsically) human life is sacred to all of us. When we read about suicides in the paper we feel sorry, regret and we shake our heads as if we as a society could do better. But why should we? If someone ill can decide that their life is too much for them, then why can’t a teenager whose life sucks or a father of three who’s just lost his job? Where is the line that we draw when we open Pandora’s Box on what life is worth fighting for and what is not?

    How do we measure suicide with euthanasia when they smack of the same thing? And how is it that we regard two things so similar in action and intent with such different emotions? How can we mourn the teenager but actively advocate for the woman who seeks to die?

    She does not have a right to kill herself – suicide is illegal in most countries, and so it should remain. But she can choose for herself to dispense with her own life, and she can do this freely. But she must be aware of the pain and suffering she will leave behind, with the very idea that her life is so pointless, that those around her who love her and cherish every moment with her are too selfish to understand her immeasurable pain. Is this what we want? A society that is centred more on the “me” than the “us”, more inward than outward.

    We are a sick society. We are growing less compassionate, less sympathetic, less caring every day as we grow more selfishly, as our view of the world turns evermore inward. We can do better. Euthanasia is in the wrong direction.

    If she chooses to kill herself, then so be it. Ultimately the taking of her own life can be no ones but her own. But never should she ask the state to help her. Never should she stand up and demand that someone take her life. Never should she make a stand for death over life. For once we accept this as the norm, where does it end?

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  9. Nicholas O'Kane (168 comments) says:

    The key point I was trying to make above, is that just as rape cases and other extreme circumstances were used as a trojan horse to to get abortion on demand, this woman is a trojan horse for euthanasia on demand, and involuntary euthanasia in many cases.

    Did you read davids post yesterday on abortion law. The lessons are clear. Even in a tightly defined law, any loopholes will be abused and it will be evaded to allow euthanasia on demand, and possibly other bad things.

    “I appreciate it is difficult when a person is not conscious and not able to express clear and present will ”
    If a person is not concious they can not consent to euthanasia. Thus it is involuntary euthanasia, or murder.

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  10. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..Philu shut the hell up for god sake. Shit seems to flow from your mouth constantly.”

    don’t read me..darling..

    i am easily ‘ellipsed’..

    you can’t miss me..!

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  11. Scribe (80 comments) says:

    Jack5,

    Personally, I’ve always thought it irrational that we will mercy kill a dog or a horse but oppose self-inflicted mercy killing even in the most extreme cases of incurable suffering.

    Animals and humans are not the same and don’t deserve the same “rights”.

    Let me guess, Jack: you’re opposed to animal cruelty, hiss at people who wear fur — but support abortion.

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  12. David Farrar (1,894 comments) says:

    Nicholas has a point that potential abuse of euthanasia laws is a major major concern. It is one of the reasons I used to be against. Safeguards against abuse would be key.

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  13. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Hi Scribe:

    Yes I oppose unnecessary cruelty to animals. As Latta pointed out on a recent TVNZ programme, cruelty to animals is a sign of psychopathic personality.

    However, I eat meat, have shot wild game, have no problem with fur especially opossum fur, and don’t support open-slather abortion.

    What I do dislike is ad hominem criticism in debate on extremely serious topics.

    I dislike even more the callousness of some morality fanatics when it comes to human suffering.

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  14. Scribe (80 comments) says:

    Jack5,

    Fair call. Apologies for the tone of the earlier remark. I just see human life, from conception to natural death, as so sacred that to bring about the death of anyone at either end of that spectrum is unfathomable to me.

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  15. Andrew Bannister (213 comments) says:

    Nicholas has a point that potential abuse of euthanasia laws is a major major concern

    I would say a legitimate concern rather than a major one. I seriously doubt that euthanasia law will ever lead to the serious problems that are suggested by the anti-euthanasia lobby. Furthermore, they are extremely easy to safeguard against.

    as for this:

    It is important to remember that Peter Browns death with dignity Bill, it would have enabled the “euthanasia” of mentally disabled children with incurable illnesses, like Autism and Downs syndromme. Is this what we want?

    Of course not, and nor will it. If a euthanasia law is finally passed, it will be debated to death (excuse the pun), checked, double checked, triple checked, tested, retested, and quickly overturned as soon as it looks like it might be abused.

    That said, I am in two minds about some form of legalised euthanasia. Ideally I would like to see it available, but totally unnecessary. Palliative care workers are great to talk to about this. Few use emotive ‘arguments’ and most are very pragmatic and realistic. Unfortunately the debate tends to get hijacked by the extremists on both sides.

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  16. Scott (1,797 comments) says:

    I always think the pride of mankind is sometimes beyond belief. Here we are playing God — deciding who can die and who cannot. Essentially the point is a spiritual one. Who is in charge me or God?

    Really the secular person has no idea. They think they are reasonable but really there are larger spiritual forces at work as the culture of death takes hold. To say it is all a matter of bureaucratic safeguards is blindness to the point of complete foolishness.

    We just debated the abortion law a few days ago! The abortion law is clear — the bureaucratic safeguards are all in place. Abortion should only take place when there is a serious risk to the mental and physical health of the prospective mother. But the fact of the matter is that we have abortion on demand. So there is the law and there is what is in people’s hearts. Aided and abetted by the feminist lobby we have 17,000 abortions a year.

    But returning to the subject of euthanasia. In the Netherlands, despite whatever the law says, once euthanasia came to be practised the issue of consent became secondary. It is the doctors that now decide who lives and who dies. Many many cases of people being killed have been documented. In some cases the doctor simply needed the bed. Apparently elderly people in the Netherlands will not go to hospital because they are afraid that euthanasia will be practised on them.

    So if this comes into effect it is absolutely true that people in New Zealand will die without their consent. Please believe this. Please do not support this appalling thing.

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  17. Andrew Bannister (213 comments) says:

    But returning to the subject of euthanasia. In the Netherlands, despite whatever the law says, once euthanasia came to be practised the issue of consent became secondary. It is the doctors that now decide who lives and who dies. Many many cases of people being killed have been documented. In some cases the doctor simply needed the bed. Apparently elderly people in the Netherlands will not go to hospital because they are afraid that euthanasia will be practised on them.

    With all due respect, you are talking through a hole that was not made to be talked through. But your comment beautifully illustrates my last point.

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  18. Scribe (80 comments) says:

    Andrew,

    From a Dutch doctor:

    Often it is the doctor and not the patient who makes the decision for euthanasia in the Netherlands.

    “The [Dutch government] report revealed that in over 1,000 cases, physicians admitted they actively caused or hastened death without any request from the patient,” writes Herbert Hendin, M.D., in the 1997 book Seduced by Death: Doctors, Patients and the Dutch Cure.

    “Uncontrollable pain was cited in 30 percent of cases; the remaining 70 percent were killed with a variety of different justifications ranging from ‘low quality of life’ to ‘all treatment was withdrawn but the patient did not die.’ “

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  19. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Abortion and now euthanasia in the week leading up to Easter …

    A child born to a woman (to place his heel on a snakes head) and the right to continuing life and liberty for the embryo/foetus and the rest of us (of the creation of God) – except that is many of those pro life (anti-abortion and anti-euthansia definition), also support the death penalty, a few wars, and end time judgment of the wicked of the world.

    Timely and a ratings winner, but …

    One comment on the issue, without euthanasia laws medical staff can facilitate by “neglect or by giving pain medication” (knowing it might result in a death which would occur later anyhow) an early death now. This is however different from more actively “causing” an early death and it is true that more of the latter would occur (simply where a patient was on the path towards a death over months rather than days or weeks and thus more immediate intervention to end it early was required) and with a law change, this is where the issue of consent exists (and might be lost over beds issues). It is a matter of updating medical ethics/practice codes if any change occurs.

    The euthanasia issue reflects people with a low quality of life who are not that threatened by immediate death – they therefore simply do not want the difficulty to continue. The regulatory issues here are wider, insurance (prior notification of the “life” insurer and their consent?) inheritance of the estate (wills – policing motive issues to coercing consent) the declared interest of those claiming to act on behalf of an incompetent person, independent vetting of consent and any undue influence on this etc…

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  20. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    There is strong argument to give individuals the right to end their own life with dignity rather than degenerate into a slobbering, incontintent shell of a human being who’s last days on earth are just a mass of pain, and are being kept alive only to pander to those who feel that life is sacrosant.

    Having watched one of my parents degenerate from a lively active person to a shell of a person who died confused, in pain and unable to even go to the toilet. To see a loved parent robbed of every ounce of dignity prior to their death is something I would not wish on anyone. This parent had expressed a wish to jump in front of a bus rather than go through what my parent went through.

    Death in this case was ineveitable. The manner of death, and the avoidance of suffering could have been different. Why should the morals of the uninvolved be put ahead of my parents right to end a life in a dignified, painless and humane way?

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  21. mara (784 comments) says:

    If I were in this poor woman’s position and some Govt. lackey told me that I should die a horrible death for the good of society in general, I would use my last ounce of breath to rise from the bed and rip his throat out.
    s

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  22. thehawkreturns (162 comments) says:

    I am a senior doctor of over 20 years. Aside from a few losers in my profession who
    seem to inhabit any committee available to avoid doing real work I cannot find
    any senior doc against euthanasia. I would put the ratio at least at 10 to 1.

    To me it is outrageous that aside from providing protection to prevent
    homicide and suicide without physical illness, laws can be made by a bunch of
    interfering nobodies (MPs) which people seem to be generally disapprove of but which still
    end up preventing the peaceful passing away of pathetic, pained and crippled
    patients.

    How dare they?

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  23. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    “she can choose for herself to dispense with her own life, and she can do this freely. But she must be aware of the pain and suffering she will leave behind, with the very idea that her life is so pointless, that those around her who love her and cherish every moment with her are too selfish to understand her immeasurable pain. Is this what we want? A society that is centred more on the “me” than the “us”, more inward than outward.”

    You know Hoolian, since she goes through bouts of pain that are 4 hours long I think she doesn’t exactly have an enormous amount of capacity to give a damn about what “we” want. Who are YOU Hoolian to know what’s best for her? There are good reasons NOT to jump off a bridge or in front of a train, not least that both forms of death are pretty traumatic for the victim AND whoever finds her (e.g. a train driver). What a vile philosophy of permanent self sacrifice that even a woman with little but agony and disfigurement dominating her life has to sacrifice the one request she does have just so “you” can feel dignity.

    “Ultimately the taking of her own life can be no ones but her own. But never should she ask the state to help her. Never should she stand up and demand that someone take her life. Never should she make a stand for death over life.”

    She ISN’T asking the state to help her, she is asking for the right for someone to carry out her request to die peacefully and without pain. It absolutely enrages me beyond words that pontificating healthy people can declare what someone going through agony “must” do, and how she can’t choose death over a life that is clearly a misery without any hope for relief.

    It goes without saying that voluntary euthanasia should include safeguards to err on the side of caution, but this case is clear:
    – She is conscious, suffering intolerably and knows what she wants;
    – She cannot find a dignified way to end her life, so wants to be put to sleep;
    – Others who think they know best for her want to stop this.

    I agree with “thehawkreturns” how dare they? How dare anyone on this thread proclaim the “good of society” to defend someone suffering? May you have the good fortune to never be stricken with such an abominable malady – you know, the type that makes a good few people wonder how compassionate and loving the god some worship actually is. I guess many of you think that “it’s ok, she’ll go to heaven”.

    The debate shouldn’t be about whether a person has to right to choose to end their terminal suffering early, but what safeguards are put in place to avoid it being abused. In THIS case it is simple, she is conscious and can express herself – let’s legalise that and have some serious debate about the cases when a person can’t express a choice, but is clearly in much pain and the illness is incurable.

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