It’s seriously weird that people should be doing this 70 years later

He said he was concerned at the extension of killing to new classes of people, including the demented and the depressed, and the establishment of mobile death units of ‘travelling euthanasing doctors’.

This isn’t a farcical replay of history now, is it?

65 comments on “It’s seriously weird that people should be doing this 70 years later

  1. Death is like a sacrament to “progressives”. Whether it’s snuffing out an unwanted pregnancy or popping grampa’s clogs for him, they can’t get enough of it.

    Killing people is only wrong to them when we’re talking about executing serial murderers. At that point proggies tear up and get all pro-life.

  2. Sorry, but I really don’t understand what your problem with this is. It sounds so like a discussion on another thread & moralists trying to shove their personal morals down other’s throats.
    Seventy years ago it was people being carted off & killed against their will. This is voluntary.

    Try to understand, there are people like myself who don’t believe in soul, or spirit or afterlife or any of the rest of it. Our deaths are the very least important events in our lives. Because after them, we ain’t here. They’re trivial*. Whilst it’s fun we’ll keep living it. Stops being fun, we want out. And we don’t relish being in the position we can’t get out because of your moral preferences.

    *Yes. Trivial. But being deprived of life one wishes to continue isn’t.

  3. Being purely personal:

    My mother begged to die. None of us could give her the one thing she wanted. It was a squalid end.

  4. B(n)iS – I’m not very religious, so I don’t think the soul comes in to it. More of a horror at the idea of medical professionals using their tools to end human life.

    And if you think it’s all entirely voluntary and uncoerced and will always remain so, oh man… you have much more faith in human nature than I do. Sometimes girls feel pressured into having an abortion. I’ve no doubt the same will be true of old folks who become a burden.

    As I said, I’m not particularly religious, but I do think our time-tested historic Christian values such as “don’t kill people” have served us well in the past, and we’d be fools to throw them all away.

  5. Ian B – yes. I’ve been there too with beloved relatives. It is awful. Probably the hardest thing to see in life. I understand wanting to end terrible suffering.

  6. But the Dutch situation (which is what is under discussion here) has already degenerated into people being “euthanised” without their knowledge let alone desire.

  7. @Steve
    Actually, I’m very uncomfortable with medical professionals using their tools to end life. Much the same as the garage does the MOT on the car also doing the repairs needed to pass it. Conflict of interests. I’m not a trusting person.
    But there’s all sorts of aspects of life where we have to deal with coercion. Mis-selling for a start. Surely we can hack this one.
    Christian values? What are those, then?

  8. Tim. From what I can see from the article, the key objection is increasing numbers are taking the opportunity to euthenise. Well quelle surprise. Since a service has become available, more people are taking advantage of it. What would you expect?

  9. Tim Worstall-

    I might have missed it in the Daily Mail article- just looking at that noxious website makes my eyes hurt- but the argument seems to be about people choosing it for reasons considered wrong or inadequate.

    The problem comes down to the old subjective value thing; who is to decide whether your suicidal preference is valid? Only you can know. So I am not at all sure of what to make of the declared effects of the law. The fact that it is becoming quite commonplace would be something I would actually expect. Many people just don’t want to carry on in an infirm, degraded state.

    I am reminded of a party some years ago, my brother in law and I nipped out for a ciggie just after his elderly father had been helped- with great effort- to move from one chair to another nearby. My brother in law said, “if I ever get like that, take me out the back and shoot me”. This is actually quite rational, because of the harsh reality that the shittiest time to be alive is at the end of life for most people.

    So I dunno. It’s not much use having a law on the assumption that people will use the freedom it grants. Cannot large numbers of people taking an option also be considered a mark of success? To use the abortion parallel, isn’t the high number of abortions simply evidence that it is a capability that many women want to use?

  10. Erratum-

    “It’s not much use having a law on the assumption that hardly any people will use the freedom it grants.”

  11. @Ian
    Reminds me of the lecture I’ve occasionally received (yes from health professionals particularly) about my smoking, drinking & other lifestyle preferences & the effect they’ll have on my life expectancy, yadda, yadda, yadda. The answer “Yes, that’s the idea.” never seems to go down too well.

  12. B(n)iS – Christian values? What are those, then?

    Don’t kill, don’t steal, be good to your parents, don’t covet your neighbour’s ass, the Golden Rule, that sort of malarkey.

  13. There seem to be several types of situation here:
    *If you are young and/or able bodied you can sort out your own suicide. Why should we have to pay for that?.
    * No help for purely mental conditions. No 25 year olds going to the Doc and saying “I’m depressed help me end it all”.
    * If you have got physical, incurable conditions –Alzheimers, hopeless cancer etc or an intolerable situation –quadriplegic /endless pain etcetc–then assisted suicide should be available–but it should not be a casual thing. There are scumbags and psychopaths in every area of life. Relatives who want granddad’s money, house etc and medicos evil enough to help out for a consideration.

    A truly independent watchdog needs to oversee the whole thing.

  14. “Don’t kill, don’t steal, be good to your parents, don’t covet your neighbour’s ass, the Golden Rule, that sort of malarkey.”

    These are copyrighted?

  15. Legalising assisted suicide is a slippery slope toward widespread killing of the sick, MPs and peers…

    I’d expect you to be in favour of two thirds of that.

  16. I do wonder whether anyone else commenting here actually read the article — or, leaving that article aside, has been following what’s been going on in the Netherlands.

    The issue is not increasing numbers of people choosing to die. The issue is increasing numbers of people choosing to get rid of their relatives.

    ‘Pressure from relatives, in combination with a patient’s concern for their wellbeing, is in some cases an important factor behind a euthanasia request.’

    That’s someone “choosing” to die because their relatives are telling them they’re a burden. Oh, what a wonderful new freedom.

    As for the conflict of interest, I find it bizarre that people are so insistent on it. John Haldane suggested in one of my first moral philosophy lectures that euthanasia shouldn’t be carried out by doctors. It was almost an aside: the idea is so obviously sensible that it really doesn’t need more than one sentence to back it up. And yet, in my experience, it’s not that people haven’t thought of it; when you suggest it, people tend to fight the idea hard: those who want euthanasia are strongly invested in having doctors do it. And that’s insane.

    Under Lord Falconer’s bill, a terminally-ill patient would be able to ask for drugs to kill him or herself.
    Two doctors would need to approve, and to be satisfied the patient was of sound mind and settled view, and had not been influenced by others.

    Since when are doctors even supposed to be experts in this stuff? We don’t let them write wills. How about involving a lawyer, or a judge?

  17. ‘our time-tested historic Christian values such as “don’t kill people”’: except heretics of course; them you should burn.

  18. @Sq2
    “‘Pressure from relatives, in combination with a patient’s concern for their wellbeing, is in some cases an important factor behind a euthanasia request.”

    Now try turning that round the other way. If someone was contemplating euthenasia, you’d discourage allowing members of their family trying to talk them out of it? Be against counseling?

    A personal story that very much shaped my views on this.
    I once managed to exit a car via the windscreen rather than the usual route. So I climb out of unconsciousness in a hospital bed, totally blind. No light. Nothing. Temporary? Permanent? What with bandages, drips, whatnot can’t even get a hand near my face. Have I even got much of a face? Doesn’t feel like it, from the inside.
    You ever tried getting anything out of medical people in a situation like that? A straight answer to anything?
    So I lie there for hours thinking, if this is as bad as it might be, I want out of here. But FFS how? There’s going to be no help round here.
    Turned out to be the result of a fair amount of surgery to get the glass out & stitch stuff back together. Massive bruising. The eyes started working in a couple of days & the rest…possibly an improvement. But a long couple of days.
    It was a very frightening experience. Not the pain etc. It’s never as bad as the imagination would suggest. The volume control only goes up so far. it’s the helplessness. That from here on in are you totally in the hands of others. That’ll insist you do what they want, for what they’ll call your own good. But is actually their’s.

  19. b(n)is,

    > Now try turning that round the other way.

    Why?

    > If someone was contemplating euthenasia, you’d discourage allowing members of their family trying to talk them out of it? Be against counseling?

    No, I wouldn’t.

    In other news, I’m against forced marriage yet weirdly not against advising people to leave abusive marriages. These things only contain logical contradictions if you refuse to make value judgements.

  20. I think we need to be careful about assumptions here. I am currently able bodied, so not under any actual pressure. But if I were a burden on others- needed them to do everything for me, wipe my arse, feed me, etc- I would not want to be that. The state of being a burden on others is humiliating and embarrassing. I might- being right now under no pressure and of (tolerably) sound mind- say, “if I ever get like that, I would prefer to die with dignity”.

    So just because somebody makes that decision, I don’t think we can declare it a wrong one. Subjective value again. Who are we to say what are valid reasons for another person to want to end their life?

  21. Ian B – some jurisdictions (eg Scotland) have never had laws against suicide. The problem is when another person steps in to end someone’s life. You can’t legally consent to your own homicide.

  22. Steve, why not?

    Homicide would be murder. You’re equating- as an example- stabbing with surgery. Without consent, it’s a stabbing. With consent, a knife plunged into your body is legal surgery.

    On a rights basis, there is no reason that one should not be able to request somebody to end your life. In that case, it isn’t homicide.

  23. You do need to be a seriously fucked-up system to have laws against suicide. Who do you prosecute?

    But then if someone can write:
    “These things only contain logical contradictions if you refuse to make value judgements.”
    What can you expect?

  24. Ian B,

    > I think we need to be careful about assumptions here.

    Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that a man who was a campaigner for Dutch legalisation of euthanasia but who has now concluded that it was a mistake hasn’t reached that conclusion because of his assumptions.

    > The state of being a burden on others is humiliating and embarrassing.

    Whether that is true obviously depends in large part on what those others say.

    Again, this is from the watchdog, who studies and quantifies this stuff, and who used to be pro-euthanasia:

    ‘Pressure from relatives, in combination with a patient’s concern for their wellbeing, is in some cases an important factor behind a euthanasia request.’

    Is there some genuine difficulty in comprehending the first three words?

    > if I were a burden on others- needed them to do everything for me, wipe my arse, feed me, etc- I would not want to be that.

    Whereas my attitude would be that that sounds like exactly what I did for my kids, so it seems fair enough that they should do that for me one day. As long as I can still read books, watch films, and hear music, I’m going on forever.

  25. b(n)is,

    > You do need to be a seriously fucked-up system to have laws against suicide. Who do you prosecute?

    The law against suicide dates from the days when every citizen was expected to have a duty to prevent law-breaking when they saw it. That made sense. In these days when the police have claimed a monopoly on law-enforcement, it no longer makes sense.

    > But then if someone can write:
    “These things only contain logical contradictions if you refuse to make value judgements.”
    What can you expect?

    Seriously? Your “argument” was that there’s no effective difference between telling someone not to kill themself and telling someone to let you kill them. That’s facile.

  26. Given how stonkingly rare it is that a progressive – having fought for a process, obtained it & seen it work – says ‘Oooh, hang on, I might have been a bit too optimistic here…’ shouldn’t we listen to him?

  27. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that a man who was a campaigner for Dutch legalisation of euthanasia but who has now concluded that it was a mistake hasn’t reached that conclusion because of his assumptions.

    No, let’s not do that. It seems quite clear to me from his testimony that he had certain assumptions as to how the law would work in practise, and is unhappy that it has worked out differently. So he does seem to have had consistent assumptions throughout.

    Consider as a comparison, somebody who (foolishly) argues that relaxing the alcohol laws will result in people drinking less (a fairly common argument in fact). Then the laws are relaxed, and people drink more, so that person says they regret supporting relaxation of the laws. Their assumptions have not changed. Their expectations have not been realised. That is a different thing.

    Me, I would expect legal euthanasia to result in quite a lot of euthanasia. My assumptions, and thus expectations, are different to those of this gentleman. I would have been right, and he would have been wrong. But neither of us has changed our basic position at all.

    Whereas my attitude would be that that sounds like exactly what I did for my kids, so it seems fair enough that they should do that for me one day. As long as I can still read books, watch films, and hear music, I’m going on forever.

    That’s you, not me. Which is why we have to remember that all human values are subjective, and there is no “correct” opinion on quality of life.

  28. > That’s you, not me. Which is why we have to remember that all human values are subjective, and there is no “correct” opinion on quality of life.

    Yes, but the point I was making wasn’t so much about the person who’s having to be looked after as the people doing the looking after, who are usually their kids, and who are, according to the records, putting pressure on people to do the decent thing and fuck off the mortal coil. Firstly, complaining about having to look after one of the people who spent your first few years looking after you seems ridiculous. Secondly, they appear to be having trouble with your injunction to “remember that all human values are subjective, and there is no ‘correct’ opinion on quality of life”: they’re telling people who would otherwise choose to live that they shouldn’t because their lives are too shit. Since you object so to people foisting their subjective ideas of quality of life onto others, can you bring yourself to complain about people using the euthanasia law to off any of their relatives who need looking after because they’re a burden? Apparently not.

    > It seems quite clear to me from his testimony that he had certain assumptions as to how the law would work in practise, and is unhappy that it has worked out differently.

    Agreed.

    > Me, I would expect legal euthanasia to result in quite a lot of euthanasia. My assumptions, and thus expectations, are different to those of this gentleman.

    Let’s just go over this one more time.

    ‘Pressure from relatives, in combination with a patient’s concern for their wellbeing, is in some cases an important factor behind a euthanasia request.’

    The objection here is not to the number of deaths; it is to the number of deaths of people who would actually prefer to live. His assumption was that the law would only be used by people genuinely choosing death for themselves and not be used to get rid of people. That assumption has been proven wrong.

    And it’s not just him. Dutch doctors have admitted this too. Their law has turned into a back-door legalised execution of the infirm by those who can’t be arsed looking after them. Plenty of libertarian grounds to object to that, I’d’ve thought. Yet apparently not.

  29. @Ecks

    ‘A truly independent watchdog needs to oversee the whole thing.’

    Like maybe 12 adults, selected at random from the electoral roll?

    You’re a mentalist so you wouldn’t be allowed to sit on such a panel, but I can see how that might work.

  30. Ian B – it’s one that philosophers and jurists have pondered for centuries.

    I’m neither of those things so can only give you my tuppence worth.

    Homicide would be murder. You’re equating- as an example- stabbing with surgery. Without consent, it’s a stabbing. With consent, a knife plunged into your body is legal surgery.

    So we run into all sorts of potential difficulties defining consent. Can someone who is mentally and physically enfeebled by the pain of cancer give full, informed, consent? What if they have dementia? What if they’re in a coma? What if they’re depressed? If it’s OK to kill someone who is dying of cancer, is it OK to euthanise people who have lost limbs in an accident? Or who just don’t want to live any more because their marriage and business collapsed?

    On a rights basis, there is no reason that one should not be able to request somebody to end your life. In that case, it isn’t homicide.

    Well, legally it is homicide. Should it be? I have to err on the side of saying yes, the law is right here.

    For this isn’t just about individual consent – though that is problematic enough. Other issues come into play as well. Do we really, as a society, want to encourage people to check out of life? Do we want to give doctors or professional sandmen or whoever the right to kill?

    Would we be better served getting rid of our clear, simple, and easily understood social norm against taking someone’s life, and replacing that with the inevitably complex and shifting code of laws and regulations that would govern euthanasia, with God-knows-what implications in future?

    Are we ready for OfDeath?

    I think it’s creepy enough that we have the Liverpool Care Pathway on the NHS. Can you imagine what that would mutate into if we broadened the NHS’s scope to legally snuff out life? My God, that would be very tempting to ambitious bureaucrats looking to hit their performance targets.

    So I don’t think we should go down that road.

  31. “Your “argument” was that there’s no effective difference between telling someone not to kill themself and telling someone to let you kill them. ”

    There is no difference whatsoever.

    I’m actually against either.

    Under the MYOFB rule.

  32. “The law against suicide dates from the days when every citizen was expected to have a duty to prevent law-breaking when they saw it.”
    The law against suicide actually dates back to when it was assumed the soul was the property of god, to be disposed of as it thought fit & suffering was virtuous. A path to redemption or some such shit. (*)

    OK, if you subscribe to that superstition. Not so fun if you
    don’t.

    The idea of the UK NHS being let anywhere voluntary euthanasia chills the blood. Possibly because it’s the direct descendent of the mindset produced (*)above

  33. > The law against suicide actually dates back to when it was assumed the soul was the property of god, to be disposed of as it thought fit & suffering was virtuous.

    It was illegal in ancient Athens, so no.

    That aside, I wasn’t arguing about the reasons why it was illegal — “dates from the days when” is not the same as “is illegal because” — but about whether such a law made sense when, as you pointed out, the guilty were unprosecutable.

    > The idea of the UK NHS being let anywhere voluntary euthanasia chills the blood.

    That’s probably how they’d do it.

  34. Squander two – much of what you say makes sense – the dutch experience has been that (as predicted by some observers) that it has led to n cases where family members have exerted moral and psychological pressure on the vulnerable to end their lives. A truly disgusting phenomenon but one that can probably be largely avoided by setting up due process, not involving doctors!

    I am with Ian B though – I don’t want anyone wiping my arse, I find the prospect of permanent dependency of that sort unspeakably humiliating and would prefer to die first.

  35. > No it wasn’t. In some circumstances it was compulsory.

    OK, suicide was illegal in Ancient Athens if you didn’t have the permission of the state. That caveat applied to pretty much all laws in ye olde days, though, so was hardly worth mentioning.

    BII,

    > A truly disgusting phenomenon but one that can probably be largely avoided by setting up due process, not involving doctors!

    I agree, but, like I said, good luck bringing about any sort of euthanasia legislation that doesn’t involve doctors. For some bizarre reason, people really want doctors to be the ones doing it.

    > I don’t want anyone wiping my arse, I find the prospect of permanent dependency of that sort unspeakably humiliating and would prefer to die first.

    Friend of mine used to be a nurse who mainly looked after old people. She said that the worst thing about holding people’s haemmorhoids out of the way while they went to the toilet was that they were completely unembarrassed by it. She’d have felt better if they’d felt worse.

    No point to that story; just an observation.

  36. If we’re going to legalise euthanasia, my preferred legislation would not only keep the decision a mile away from doctors but would actually bring in harsher penalties for doctors found to have assisted in a suicide.

    It often strikes me that, much as we might slag off politicians, one of their biggest faults appears to be that they think quite highly of people: certainly the problem with most modern laws is that they appear to have been written by people who think other people are quite nice. We need all laws to be written by cynics who believe everyone on the planet is an utter bastard.

  37. “A truly independent watchdog needs to oversee the whole thing.”

    This, from Mr Ecks, the man who trust no one to do with the state made me smile.

  38. OK, suicide was illegal in Ancient Athens if you didn’t have the permission of the state. That caveat applied to pretty much all laws in ye olde days, though, so was hardly worth mentioning.

    Still no. To quote Plato’s Laws:

    And what shall he suffer who slays him who of all men, as they say, is his own best friend? I mean the suicide, who deprives himself by violence of his appointed share of life, not because the law of the state requires him, nor yet under the compulsion of some painful and inevitable misfortune which has come upon him, nor because he has had to suffer from irremediable and intolerable shame, but who from sloth or want of manliness imposes upon himself an unjust penalty. For him, what ceremonies there are to be of purification and burial God knows, and about these the next of kin should enquire of the interpreters and of the laws thereto relating, and do according to their injunctions. They who meet their death in this way shall be buried alone, and none shall be laid by their side; they shall be buried ingloriously in the borders of the twelve portions the land, in such places as are uncultivated and nameless, and no column or inscription shall mark the place of their interment.

    That is, suicide was acceptable so long as you had a good reason for it, such as, pertinent to this discussion, “some painful and inevitable misfortune”.

  39. Bloke with a Bloat: Independent of the state and any pressure groups– perhaps a volunteer group.
    Or just let Interested make the decisions. When he isn’t busy giving advice to God

  40. Just by coincidence, after this thread, the painter painting my bathroom and I were chatting and it somehow got round to the deaths of our mothers from cancer. Except his wasn’t killed by the cancer, she was killed by the doctor under the old “I’ll just give her a very strong ‘painkiller’ dose” principle. This was about 1980. Which seems to have been routine in the past.

    So I don’t think there ever was a principle of keeping people alive as long as possible. I have heard so many stories of this- including from my mum, who expected somebody would help her along in due course and was distressed when nobody would- that I think most people have a general idea that there is a time to go, when all quality of life has gone, and GPs used to do this on an unofficial basis. It seems to have worked quite well.

    Somebody remind me again why we should have to ask the State’s permission to die.

  41. @Ecks in what way is a jury, eg one hearing the case against certain elderly sex pests, not ‘independent of the State and any pressure groups’?

    And if your answer is that a jury is not so independent, which it must be, because you must believe the jury in Rolf Harris was somehow got at in order to return what you believe, based on nothing more than what you read in the Daily Mail and conjure up while idly playing with yourself in your tent in the woods, was an unsafe verdict, then how would your independent death panels be any fucking better?

    You blithering tool.

  42. Nobody is “independent”. I mean, “independent” of what exactly?

    However, here’s one suggestion; expert panels (in any issue) should be appointed by sortition, like a jury. You want a panel of doctors to make a medical judgement, fine. But appoint randomly from all suitably qualified doctors, rather than having a process in which those with axes to grind can get themselves appoitned to the panel.

  43. Here’s another thought; juries in historic crimes should be appointed only from those of an age such that they would have been of jury service age at the time of the crime.

  44. Two points. 1) Law created in one country that residents in other countries would like to take advantage of, cases covered by said law increase. 2) Medical advances mean people live longer past the age at which nature normally kills them off, some people are joyful, some people are not.

    Point one is an indication of a law that is popular with people. It doesn’t matter what politicians, doctors, or liberal people think, people are making their views known.

    Point two is allowing people to live longer but not necessarily in the same active state that they like. Some people don’t mind being a burden (S2’s example), others do. Should we ban medicine to allow nature to take its course and people die early or do we keep the advances in medicine but accept that not 100% of people will like it. What is the percentage of people that has to be reached before we say that the law is bad.

  45. Theophrastus: yes, but, despite your namesake’s efforts, the Athenian legal code has not survived, so Plato is about as close as we can get.

    Unless Squander Two has found a copy in his Attic.

  46. The remarkable thing about Plato is that he is hugely famous as a philosopher, but only distinguished himself by having not a single idea of any value whatsoever. His theory of essences is particular barmcakery.

  47. Squander 2 is spot on We need all laws to be written by cynics who believe everyone on the planet is an utter bastard.

    One of the categories of euthanasia subjects are old people with dementia, able to live a decade plus with basic care.

    I’ve twice seen this dealt with by the kids colluding to put such people in very risky situations that cause their premature demise. This is not hard with the combination of a care home and the NHS.

    The kids are being evil but logical. Even a quite poor old person will have £200K squirrelled away after selling the house. Each year they live in care eats £40K, 4 kids cuts see their inheritance dropping by £10K a year, a lot to an utter bastard.

    I suspect this dead easy crime happens tens of thousand times a year in the UK.

  48. We need all laws to be written by cynics who believe everyone on the planet is an utter bastard.

    Otherwise known as the New Labour legislative approach.

  49. Interested: What has a jury got to do with an oversight panel ?.One supposedly makes the best decision possible about guilt or innocence, it is called into being by the state and ordered to decide. The other would check beforehand that procedure has been followed to ensure as far as possible that the death was really chosen and not say, Interested junior trying to get rid of his tiresome elderly internet pest of a father.
    The two cases have little correlation outside your ego based fantasy. Sure it is remotely possible both could be got at. So what?. How does that make them the same thing?.

    At no time did I ever suggest that the Harris jury had been “got at”–but given the contrast between reality and your version of the truth–yours wins every time. If their viewd were biased it would long before the trial by the tide of media marvel “paedo, paedo, paedo” bullshit–which is why I don’t read the DM.

  50. Thomas Gibbon–laws are rarely written for the benefit of most ordinary people. Utter bastards is a description much more applicable to the framers of laws not those who suffer under them.
    Yes there are those who would do what you describe but there are others who don’t. My Brother and I took care of my Mother for 8 years before she passed away last year and towards the last few months she had to be carried everywhere in the house and it was a desperate struggle to get her to eat anything. Mercifully her mind was clear nearly up to the end. As for putting her in a home there was no question of that despite other family responsibilities.–I’d sooner have cut my own throat than done that. Many people do the same and a lot more besides.

    Some people can’t take as much care because of circs but there are a lot who don’t give a shit. Most families are real families–who love and care about each other. Other “families” are not.. Unfortunately that is the human condition. Whatever procedures are put in place–there will be times they fail or are subverted.

  51. @Mr Ecks
    “..it was a desperate struggle to get her to eat anything.”
    Can you explain what you mean by that? Your mother didn’t wish to eat? Yet you pressured her to do so? Why?
    You say she was of “clear mind” yet you required her to eat, despite her reluctance?

    This is what worries me about some people’s attitude to our inevitable exit. There’s concern shown here about pressure being put on people to euthenise. Yet pressuring people to hang on is regarded as a virtue. Who are they doing it for? Who’s supposed to be the beneficiary?

    It’s one reason I’m in favour of assisted dying. One may wish to die but the meat we inhabit is remarkably tenacious. Trying a DIY exit, under what may be difficult circumstances near the end of one’s capabilities, would be easy to botch. Then you’re in the hands of “helpful” on-lookers & help professionals doing their best to drag you back from the brink to suit their own imperatives. If they succeed, you may well be in a worse position than when you started. Having to cope with the damage your own failed exit has caused.

    Why the presumption, those not undergoing the experience “know better”?

  52. PaulB,

    > They who meet their death in this way shall be buried alone, and none shall be laid by their side; they shall be buried ingloriously in the borders of the twelve portions the land, in such places as are uncultivated and nameless, and no column or inscription shall mark the place of their interment.

    Oh, look! A punishment!

    Ian B,

    > I think most people have a general idea that there is a time to go, when all quality of life has gone, and GPs used to do this on an unofficial basis. It seems to have worked quite well.

    If by “worked quite well” you mean “enabled history’s most prolific serial killer”, yes, good point.

  53. It’s Progressive for doctors to sign off people euthanising their parents, but evil and wrong for them to sign off sick or lightly disabled people as fit to work.

  54. Squander Two-

    Your reply reminds me of the difference I perceive between a libertarian and authoritariian outlook. Libertarians tend to look at what benefits can come from a freedom, authoritarians tend to look at what harms can come from it.

    I could argue for instance that using a formal rather than informal system- the Liverpool Care Path- enabled the greatest legal mass murder by the State in British history. About which individuals could do nothing, because it was State approved. Shipman was, at least, eventually spotted and punished.

  55. BiS/Ecks

    My experiience with my mother- and supported by anecdotage from many professional terminal carers- is that terminal people don’t want to eat very much. My mum was eventually hardly eating anything. We didn’t try to make her eat.

  56. Squander Two: Oh look! You cut the part of that passage which makes it clear that it doesn’t apply to most suicides.

  57. @Ian
    Same with my mum. When I saw her in the March, she seemed to be ready to take over the running of the nursing home she was in. Keeping up with her going upstairs left one winded. June, she stopped eating, stopped drinking & was dead before could get back to the UK.

  58. Ian B,

    That would be an excellent point if I had ever defended the LCP.

    PaulB,

    So what? I was, if you can be arsed reading back, disagreeing with the idea that we only had anti-suicide laws because of Christian ideas about the soul being God’s property. To show that that’s not all there is to it, I only need some pre-Christian suicides to be deemed immoral, not all of them.

  59. BiS In her last year my mother expressed the desire to live many times but would hardly eat at all. We had to encourage and cajole to get her to eat and she did until in the end the stroke she had had turned to vascular dementia (so the doc said) and she lost the ability to swallow. The stroke /dementia caused her to no longer be able to stand but no other physical effects and few mental issues except for the “I want to live but I don’t have to eat” fixed idea. If I had been sure that she had wanted to go I would not have tried to get her to eat. She seemed sincere in her wish to live and the irrationality of “I don’t need to eat” was, as far as we could judge an effect of the damage caused by the stroke. So we gently pressured her, she ate a little and lived several months beyond the point at which she would otherwise have starved to death. Altho she could no longer walk she had a number of car trips to old and familiar places in that time (local beauty spots etc) and was able to still enjoy them. She knew who and where she was, who we were, what was going on in the moment and could still access happy memories of times gone by. Over the last month-she suffered a rapid decline and lost even her swallow reflex. She hated hospitals and spent only two nights in one. With the help of the local hospice charity she was able to spend her last two weeks at home and died at home–she was deathly afraid of hospitals and always wished to die at home.
    I don’t think we forced her to live beyond her time–and probably she had a last chance to visit many old memories because of those last months.
    When we brought her home from her two days in hospital and got her settled in her bed I asked her “How are you Mam”. Her deadpan reply was “I’ve been better”.

    She was a good ‘un my Mam.

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