Your right to your life, yes, and then there’s murder

In the latest controversial incident the unnamed woman, who was over 80, reportedly suffered from dementia and had earlier expressed a desire for euthanasia when she deemed that ‘the time was right’.

As her situation deteriorated, it became difficult for her husband to care for her, and she was placed in a nursing home.
Medical paperwork showed that she often exhibited signs of fear and anger, and would wander around the building at nights. The nursing home senior doctor was of the opinion that she was suffering intolerably, but that she was no longer in a position where she could confirm that the time was now right for the euthanasia to go ahead.
However the doctor was of the opinion that the woman’s circumstances made it clear that the time was now right.
The doctor secretly placed a soporific in her coffee to calm her, and then had started to give her a lethal injection.
Yet while injecting the woman she woke up, and fought the doctor. The paperwork showed that the only way the doctor could complete the injection was by getting family members to help restrain her.
It also revealed that the patient said several times ‘I don’t want to die’ in the days before she was put to death, and that the doctor had not spoken to her about what was planned because she did not want to cause unnecessary extra distress. She also did not tell her about what was in her coffee as it was also likely to cause further disruptions to the planned euthanasia process.
The Review Committee concluded that the doctor ‘has crossed the line’ by giving her the first sleeping medicine, and also should have stopped when the woman resisted.
The paperwork and the recommendations of the committee are now being considered by prosecutors and health officials.
Kohnstamm said he was in favour of a trial: ‘Not to punish the doctor, who acted in good faith and did what she had to do, but to get judicial clarity over what powers a doctor has when it comes to the euthanasia of patients suffering from severe dementia.’

Isn’t “Did what she had to do” such a chilling phrase?

As to a trial, yes, and if the charge were murder I would vote to convict. For there is a line here, a slant on that slippery slope, where it does change.

Which is, of course, why I’ve been against stepping off the top of the hill in the first place.

Seriously, the “I want to be able to die when my time is right” has led to an elderly lady being held down so that she can be murdered by a doctor?

69 comments on “Your right to your life, yes, and then there’s murder

  1. She also did not tell her about what was in her coffee as it was also likely to cause further disruptions to the planned euthanasia process.

    Malice aforethought. The doctor knew. Hang them all.

  2. It’s like the death penalty. There are clearly people that society would be better off without and life time without parole isn’t exactly humane.

    However, as with economics, the problems are at the edge and I don’t trust society to see the same edges I do. And I don’t trust society’s agents, whether medics or law enforcement & the courts, to get it right (or even to try to get it right) all or even enough of the time.

    “Enough of” being very close to all when you are talking about something as serious and irreversible as legalised murder.

  3. Surreptitious Evil – “It’s like the death penalty. There are clearly people that society would be better off without and life time without parole isn’t exactly humane.”

    No it is not. This woman did not break the law. Her only crime was being old and in the way. There is *no*case* for killing her. No justification at all.

    She retained enough mental faculty to express an opinion. And it was a strong no. They held her down, drugged her up and tried to kill her anyway. An innocent person quietly going about her life.

  4. The man wants judicial clarity. Happy to oblige.

    By your own addmission you have commited murder. You will be taken from this place and hanged by the neck until dead. May God have mercy on your soul.

    Does that help?

  5. Ahh yes, and who will be paying to care for all these dementia patients? Not the people wanting to force them to live for 20 more years in a mental prison, I’m certain. That aside, there is no reason to keep someone alive when their existence has become that of a zombie. When the mind is gone, so is the person and the remaining physical shell is a kind of living death. I say this having watched close family members decline into fear and confusion and eventually mindlessness. It is a horror for them and for those who care for them.

  6. Mr Black – “Ahh yes, and who will be paying to care for all these dementia patients? Not the people wanting to force them to live for 20 more years in a mental prison, I’m certain.”

    I am impressed the way you managed to get the wrong end of the stick. It is truly impressive. Do you work at being such a self-righteous c*nt or does it just come naturally?

    No one is wanting to force anyone to live in a shell. This woman did not want to die. She said so. Often and clearly. They drugged her coffee so they could kill her against her clearly expressed preferences. When that did not work they held her down to kill her.

    You see why you are such a c*nt? Can you? You should. If only for your own good.

    And of course I do pay to care for dementia patients and I am perfectly happy to do so.

  7. “The paperwork showed that the only way the doctor could complete the injection was by getting family members to help restrain her.”

    They should be charged as accessories.

  8. Mr Black: “That aside, there is no reason to keep someone alive when their existence has become that of a zombie.”

    Or when they advocate murder for the sake of convenience.

    *dons black cap*

    “Mr Black, you shall be taken from here to a place of…”

  9. Ah the certainty of the young. Dementia may wax and wane but it don’t go away.
    If she said she didn’t want to die now -today that is -is that much different than if she said she was Mary queen of Scots.
    Do you want a hit squad to hover around for the right words.
    Anyway sooner or later discrete gas chambers for the burdensome elderly will appear here and there. It has a political inevatability

  10. ‘The Netherlands introduced the euthanasia law 17 years ago’

    That is where the problem lies, killing someone or assisting someone to die must always be against the law.

    There is nothing stopping the Judge taking all things into consideration when handing out the sentence.

    In this case the Doctor should be struck off (to remove future opportunity) and handed a long jail term, those who assisted her should also be sent to jail for terms appropriate.

    If this was the case of a person of 70 killing their life partner because they felt said person had suffered unduly and was only going to get worse then that person is also guilty of murder.
    The sentence in this case might be probation as the motive and opportunity to re-offend is incredibly small.

    The State must never be given the right to end a persons life, whilst the current bunch in charge may be benign there is no guarantee a future one won’t be malignant.

  11. – “killing someone or assisting someone to die must always be against the law.”

    Two entirely different things sort of got conflated there.

  12. BobRocket – “That is where the problem lies, killing someone or assisting someone to die must always be against the law.”

    Killing someone is not against the law. Killing someone without a good reason is. Being old and a little confused is not a good reason.

    You may as well kill Nickelback fans. They are so tragic I am sure many would agree they deserve it.

  13. she often exhibited signs of fear and anger, and would wander around the building at nights

    Did they at least try cutting down her coffee?! Too much caffeine can cause all of those things.

  14. Don’t forget that National SOCIALISM started killing under the auspices of the medical gang and even continued getting rid of “defectives” under the US occupation authorities for a short while.

    She needs a murder trial and the full penalty of law. But since we are speaking of Dutch law that will probably be six months probation for murder. If they can bring themselves to such a pitch of vindictive harshness.

  15. The Netherlands introduced the euthanasia law 17 years ago.

    Not having a euthanasia law would be the answer to avoid this kind of thing:

    …the doctor […] acted in good faith and did what she had to do […] but to get judicial clarity over what powers a doctor has when it comes to the euthanasia of patients suffering from severe dementia.

    which is simply repulsive.

  16. So they keep promising us regulations. Rules that will stop doctors killing patients willfully.

    But this doctor decided to murder a patient and has got away with it. She did not do any of the paperwork. She did not do any interviews. She did not seek the view of the patient and when that view was offered she ignored it.

    And everyone agrees she did right. At worst she was a little over-enthusiastic. All these regulations are like those for abortion. As we have abortion on demand, it seems the Dutch have euthanasia at the whim of a doctor.

  17. OK pendants, killing someone not in self-defence.

    The power crazed lunatics that allowed this law to pass are obviously clinically insane, they should be made wards of court for their own safety.
    That court should conclude that those patients are requesting to be euthanised and carry out their wishes.
    The law would then be repealed by sane people.

  18. Advocates of euthanasia almost invariably want someone else – a doctor – to do the dirty work for them and kill them. They are often reluctant to kill themselves. Not for them the attitude of the stoic Roman: to feast on a roast peacock and then fall on his sword. No, they want someone else to take responsibility for ending their life when they are no longer capable of doing so. And it is that desire to pass on the responsibility that opens up the possibility of serious abuse.

    If in the future I find myself dying of some terminal and agonising condition, or if I become aware that I am drifting into dementia, then I will end my own life. But my death will be as a result of my own agency, and I will leave documentation to show this and to exonerate my family of any possible accusations.

  19. “I don’t trust society to see the same edges I do.”

    That’s alright. Society doesn’t trust you to see the same edges it does. That’s what laws are for.

    “That is where the problem lies, killing someone or assisting someone to die must always be against the law.”

    Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

    If a person wants to die, it’s their choice. If a person wants assistance, they can ask for it. If a person wants to issue instructions in advance, and has made an informed choice knowing the potential risks, they can.

    So the questions I would be asking would be – when the lady said she wanted to die “when the time was right”, had anyone checked what her view was on what precise conditions that entailed, and what she would want to do if her future self changed her mind? Was she capable of giving or denying informed consent in here current state?

    There needs to be guidance given on what doctors need to explain and ask when receiving ‘living will’ instructions. A vague prescription like “when the time is right” is completely insufficient. You need to go through the range of scenarios, including things like changing your mind in the throes of confusion (like, what if you came to believe the doctors were all Lizard People and out to kill you?), and ask what they want to happen.

    Society doesn’t know where your personal “edges” are. However, the edges are *your* decision, not society’s. And in this case, you guys asserting that one of those edges should be that “assisting someone to die must always be against the law” are part of “society”. You can decide whether to “step off the top of the hill” for yourself. You can’t decide that for anyone else.

  20. This woman did not break the law. Her only crime was being old and in the way.

    As we are finding out more and more, many people who are sentenced to death or have been executed did not break the law. For many of them, their only crime was being black in a public place.

    And, pendantry, I said “like” rather than “identical to”.

  21. According to the earlier expressed wishes (as reported) of the woman who was murdered, she probably would have thought “the time was right” for her to be killed.

    However, the person who made the decision to for herself to be euthanised, gradually stopped existing (you could say that she died) as her dementia advanced.

    She was gradually replaced with a new person who was less able to think along the logical lines and thought patterns possessed by her previous mind. (You could say that she just changed her mind because she lost the capacity to think as she previously did.)

    It is quite clear that the new person didn’t want to die. But are the wishes of the former person (who no longer exists) still applicable to the new person just because they inhabit the same body?

    Does anyone here who is 40 years old still agree with their 20 year old self? Yet when you were 20, didn’t you want all your wishes to still apply when you became 40?

    That said, Isn’t it great that (given sufficient funds and resources) we can choose to live in a country where euthanasia is legal or we can choose to live in a country where it isn’t? If you don’t want this case happening to you, then move out of NL. Or if you want to be murdered if you get dementia (and you want doctors to go against the wishes of your dementia-brain to not be killed), then move to NL.

  22. I’m not sure why 1 case should decide for every one else.

    Something has obviously gone horribly wrong there, and the penalties should be given accordingly, but to use that to deny that right to other people is simply ridiculous.

    It appears to me that some comments here reflect the all too common “I’m in favour of individual freedom, as long as it accords with my own prejudice/point of view/etc…”

    Not much different from your run of the mill leftist or mob rule.

  23. “That aside, there is no reason to keep someone alive when their existence has become that of a zombie. When the mind is gone, so is the person and the remaining physical shell is a kind of living death.”

    I’m sure that certainly helps to rationalise killing somebody who has just said “I don’t want to die”.

  24. TMB,

    “The Netherlands introduced the euthanasia law 17 years ago.

    Not having a euthanasia law would be the answer to avoid this kind of thing:

    …the doctor […] acted in good faith and did what she had to do […] but to get judicial clarity over what powers a doctor has when it comes to the euthanasia of patients suffering from severe dementia.
    which is simply repulsive.”

    In this case I think the clarity they are seeking is what to do if someone says they want to die at a certain point but the get dementia and change their mind. Is that them making the decision and overriding their non-dementia self or just the effects of dementia?

    For me it’s a no-brainier. Someone says stop and you stop, nobody can know what’s really going on on in someone else’s mind wether they have dementia or not.

  25. “But are the wishes of the former person (who no longer exists) still applicable to the new person just because they inhabit the same body? Does anyone here who is 40 years old still agree with their 20 year old self?”

    It’s an interesting philosophical question, but would make contract law very difficult. Should you still be required to repay at 40 a mortgage agreement you took out at 20? Can the 20-year old make binding decisions for his 40-year old self? And where do you draw the line? You might change your mind in five minutes time. When do you count as a ‘different’ person – someone you have no right to make binding decisions for?

  26. “There are clearly people that society would be better off without and life time without parole isn’t exactly humane.”

    However, as that quite clearly doesn’t, couldn’t apply to dementia sufferers it is difficult to see what you’re getting at exactly.

  27. Ok, now everyone with strong opinions tell us how many of your family you’ve had to deal with who has been plunged into dementia.

  28. @BiND: “For me it’s a no-brainier. Someone says stop and you stop, nobody can know what’s really going on on in someone else’s mind wether they have dementia or not.”

    I wonder how many of the enthusiastic euthanasia cheerleaders that will infest the inevitable CiF article I this case will believe that a woman can remove consent at any time to intercourse..?

  29. BiND

    Entirely agree with you about the no-brainer element in this case.

    For me there is a broader problem, though, which arises through the modern desire to legislate and codify every aspect of life (and now death too).

    I also agree with you about the need for the courts to look at this but a ruling in this instance would leave other similar but not identical cases jostling for court time in the future.

    Perhaps the best thing is not to unbottle the djinn and not introduce euthanasia laws in the first place?

    Families and doctors and individuals have managed to arrive at accommodations over the centuries from the DNR instruction over the patient’s bed to the administration of large doses of anaesthesia.

  30. dearieme,

    if I decided to do the deed I am fully aware that it is against the law and that there will be a full trial to get all of the facts out into the open, the Judge can sentence accordingly
    (by the time I’m willing to act I’m not likely to let what a Judge thinks get in the way).

    If it is the 27th time I’m up before the beak he might conclude that I’m a danger to the public and sentence me accordingly, that wouldn’t happen with state sanctioned euthanasia until I got to Shipman levels of murder.

    If there is no full public inquiry into each incident then people like Shipman thrive, his justification was that they all asked him to do it.

  31. BobRocket

    The State must never be given the right to end a persons life

    In circumstances other than Roue le Jour’s example, this.

  32. Just change the story slightly and see how it reads: A women was heard to say “I’d like to have sex when the time is right” … “He drugged her coffee to make her compliant, and tried to have sex with her but she repeatedly said ‘no’, the only way he could continue was for family members to hold her down”.

    When did “no” stop meaning “no”?

  33. PF,
    even in Roue le Jour’s example the state must not be allowed to start executing people because once they start it is just a matter of time until they widen the ‘guilty’ net to include their oponents, they can’t help themselves, they are sick.

  34. Theophrastus gets it right.
    If you want to die, do it while you are able.
    If you are incapacitated, hope for good palliative care.
    Post-Shipman, medics are too restrained with pain killers.
    No medic should ever be expected to deliberately kill a patient.

  35. Just change the story a little more and see how it reads: A woman was heard to say “when I get depressed I become suicidal. It’s temporary. I want you to stop me if that happens.” … “ A few days later he gets a call and is told she’s on the roof planning to throw herself off. He rushes up and drags her back from the edge but she repeatedly shouts ‘No! No! I want to go!’ in tears, the only way he could stop her was to ask other family members to physically hold her down.

    When did “no” stop meaning “no”…? When she told you it did.

  36. NiV – valiant attempt but rather silly. Your hypothetical woman can always have another crack at it and explain that she would like to be left in peace to get on with climbing on to a roof.

    The woman in this case is not likely to come back to life to oblige you.

  37. dearieme: just my mother who was still my mother when she died, confused, tired and loving – even if she didn’t know why anymore.

  38. Dearieme:

    Only my mother, and I’m thankful every day that she suffered a massive heart attack before becoming a vegetable. The last two months before she went in the nursing home were absolute hell as she was getting increasingly violent and Dad didn’t want to put her in a home.

    I think I’d be more in favor of something like Oregon’s system which only has doctors prescribing the lethal prescription and leaving it up to the terminally ill when (and whether) to use it. About one in three wind up not using the drugs they’re prescribed. Of course, none of this would work with dementia patients.

  39. “NiV – valiant attempt but rather silly. Your hypothetical woman can always have another crack at it and explain that she would like to be left in peace to get on with climbing on to a roof.”

    Umm. No. If we follow *your* rules, then “no means no”, you’re not allowed to hold her down against her will, you have to allow her to change her mind about letting you stop her, and you have to let her jump off.

    My point is that it’s not about permission or consent, it’s about society (in this case, you) deciding what other people are allowed to decree for themselves “for their own good”, as you measure their good. You disagree with euthanasia. You’re picking whichever option prevents or avoids euthanasia, whether it’s with their consent or not, informed or not.

    In the particular case Tim cites, it’s far from clear that informed consent was given, and that’s a problem. But it’s not impossible that somebody *could* give informed consent to be restrained at a later date when they know the balance of their mind was going to be disturbed. It just needs a far more comprehensive discussion of the ‘living will’ conditions ahead of time.

    Some people disagree with euthanasia, and others don’t. You can, if you like, decree that you are not to be euthanised under any circumstances, not even if you’re screaming “Kill me! Let me die!” over and over again later on. That’s just the unbearable agony speaking. After all, you might change your mind again after a few years of it.

    But other people may choose a different decision. Do you have a right to tell them what they’re allowed to do with their own life? Why, then, would they not be allowed to tell you what to do with yours?

  40. Dearieme

    My mother-in-law is currently in the final stages of Alzheimer’s and is now lying on a hospital bed about to die. We are discussing the withdrawal or not of fluids.

    So I do feel entitled to consider stupid stupid stupid comments about “zombies” and “former people”. The morons who use these terms quite obviously have no idea what they are talking about. Yes her brain is dying, yes she has no idea of her circumstances. But no, I do not see any living hell for her, I absolutely do see her in that woman in he hospital bed and no under no circumstances is there any justification for artificially bringing about a premature end to her life. It is still her life and it has value, a value we have no right at all to judge.

  41. My mother had dementia. Gradually, she faded away, then she went through a period of about four months of extreme agitation and distress, and finally she entered a serene and relatively lucid state that lasted for two months until she died peacefully. Dementia is grim, but it occasionally has compensations. My mother had a good death.

    My father was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer, and he quietly took an overdose of sleeping pills. I arrived to find him comatose, and I called an ambulance. He survived the overdose, only to fie in squalid agony some months later. I now wish I had never called that ambulance.

  42. Theo

    My father died of prostate cancer. At the end we pushed the morphine to ease the pain. Did we push too much? We’ll never know. We do know though he was on his journey to an imminent death and we eased the pain of that journey.

  43. Ironman
    I think you did the right thing there. Sadly, I didn’t: I deprived my father of a peaceful death.

  44. What’s the old adage? Hard cases make for bad law. If a Doctor has a clear instruction from a lucid patient then does that instruction still hold good when the patient is no longer lucid? Buggered if I know, but I don’t think it’s helpful to demonise the poor sod who was presented with this quandry in a real-life situation… Does anyone in this discussion think they enjoyed the dilemma?

  45. Oh I think this doctor can be, if not demonised, then certainly tried for murder. This patient wasn’t dying; they were on their journey through dementia. She decided for the patient that the patient’s life wasn’t worth living. She had no right at all to do that.

    It’s gets worse when abortion is considered, when that decision is reached on the person’s behalf and a life is destroyed before birth without even the suggestion if handicap or suffering, all in the name of “choice”.

  46. Like I said, you get a clear instruction from a lucid patient about what to do then they finally flip. At what point is the patient no longer lucid – when can that be determined?

    Where does the duty lie – with the wishes of the lucid patient before their symptoms became too great, or with the no-longer lucid patient?

    I’m buggered if I know, and I bless the fates that I’ve never faced that choice. But for the love of deities, someone HAS faced it and has had to make the choice between lucid patient and non-lucid patient. Does anyone in this thread genuinely think that malice was a contributory factor in their decision?

  47. Does anyone in this thread genuinely think that malice was a contributory factor in their decision?

    I’m happy to assume there was no malice but, absent euthanasia laws, there could not possibly be any justification for what the doctor did. She may well have thought that she was doing no more than what the state intended and I find that unsettling.

    There are probably others here who have put dogs and horses down under veterinary advice. On no occasion has an animal of mine struggled or needed restraint.

  48. Geoff Taylor,

    would she have acted in that way if she thought she didn’t have the full force of the State behind her ?

    Of course not, she justified her actions by having the requisite boxes ticked, when called out she will revert to the ‘only following orders’ defence, her enablers will blame it all on her.

  49. TMB,

    “Families and doctors and individuals have managed to arrive at accommodations over the centuries from the DNR instruction over the patient’s bed to the administration of large doses of anaesthesia.”

    Indeed, and last night in the pub we had a discussion along those lines as there’s been a number of cancer deaths in the village in the past couple of weeks and one of my neighbours was saying his mother’s in the final stages of Parkinson’s and getting very depressed. The consensus was that death from a morphine overdose is preferable to the ravages of the final stages of cancer and not one person raised euthanasia.

    I have to say that I have some sympathy with doctors now. We all know it went on with a half discussion and knowing nod, but with our litigious society it only needs one relative to make a fuss and the full force of the law descends on them in what could be a career ending lawsuit.

    I have a lot of sympathy with the “my body and I get to choose when to die” argument and it always gets a good airing when someone with a horrible disease goes to court to demand that the CPS make it clear that their loved ones and or doctors that help them choose death at their own timing won’t be prosecuted. The problem is, as Geoff says, hard cases make bad laws and no end of documents will cover all eventualities.

    The other problem that never gets aired is that someone’s right to die places an obligation on someone else to help them. I know in most cases it isn’t a problem as its a morphine overdose in the last few hours or a certain excruciating death (I watched my father and youngest brother go through that one). What bothers me is not just doctor’s being willing to help someone who clearly has some life left in them, but if its a “right” then some doctor may have to be ordered by the courts to carry out the euthanasia. (Yes I know that’s not likely, now, but ….)

    If only life was simple.

  50. Bobrocket, I have no idea what the answer to your question is. However, unless you have direct information not previously disclosed, I strongly suspect that you have no more clue than I do.

    I choose not to draw a declamatory conclusion from this lack of information. Would you choose otherwise?

  51. TMB – “doing no more than what the state intended ” – No. Isn’t it true that the Doctor thought that this was what the PATIENT intended?

    That, whatever your particular viewpoint, is surely a much messier moral problem than state v person. We’re talking lucid person seeking to prevent their future less lucid self, and I see no clear moral path in this situation. I certainly don’t see a legal one.

    Agree with the doctor’s actions or no (and I really don’t know how I feel about that), but I cannot bring myself to want a criminal sanction for someone who has had to make a decision either way when faced with that circumstance.

  52. Advocates of euthanasia almost invariably want someone else – a doctor – to do the dirty work for them and kill them.

    Total codswallop. You are just making up shit.

    People top themselves all the time (it’s called suicide and it’s not uncommon). What we notice in the euthanasia debate are the ones who can’t do it themselves, not the large number that do it quietly and don’t get noticed.

    Many people do not have the skills to kill themselves in a halfway nice way, and especially if they are quite unwell. Just as most people can’t slaughter a cow or goat properly, so get professionals to do it for them. Professionals do a better job, and are to be preferred for that reason.

    When people are given a button to press that starts the process of death, as happens in Switzerland, they generally do the business rather than chickening out.

  53. “What we notice in the euthanasia debate are the ones who can’t do it themselves, not the large number that do it quietly and don’t get noticed.”

    No, the public debate is about those who want to leave until the laser minute and fear that they leave it to late to commit suicide.

  54. The problem with assisted suicide isn’t the suicide, it’s the assistance. You are co-opting someone else. That is an intrinsically morally troublesome idea.

  55. “The problem with assisted suicide isn’t the suicide, it’s the assistance. You are co-opting someone else.”

    If your current doctor is not willing, find another doctor who is. There are plenty. Nobody should be forced into offering treatments they don’t agree with.

  56. BiND thanks for your response. I’d have been in tune with the consensus in your pub. My contention is that these rather important questions are best resolved quietly and discreetly by the individual, his or her family and his or her doctor each guided by their own precepts and their own personal beliefs. Where the individual and his or her marbles have parted company it’s probably safe to go on the basis that a previously expressed opinion validated by the family and the doctor combined is sufficient. All these people need to have known each other before the marbles went astray.

    Geoff Taylor: TMB – “doing no more than what the state intended ” – No. Isn’t it true that the Doctor thought that this was what the PATIENT intended?

    I don’t disagree, but I hope you will grant me that the state is the enabler? Move this to the UK, say, and the Doctor is at certain (?) risk of prosecution.

    BiCR – yes.

  57. NiV – “Nobody should be forced into offering treatments they don’t agree with.”

    You mean like they shouldn’t be forced to bake a cake? Share a bathroom?

    Already some schools ask potential medical school applicants about abortion. Pharmacists have been threatened if they refuse to stock. Of course the inevitable next step is to force doctors to take part. Well the next, next, next step. Once they promise everyone everything to get the law passed. Probably be compulsory for Third Years.

  58. Surreptitious Evil – “As we are finding out more and more, many people who are sentenced to death or have been executed did not break the law. For many of them, their only crime was being black in a public place.”

    A jury of twelve of their peers did not agree. And I do not accept anyone has been executed in recent times for being Black in a public place.

    Geoff Taylor – “Does anyone in this thread genuinely think that malice was a contributory factor in their decision?”

    Malice? Certainly. In a legal sense. The doctor knew the woman did not want to die and plotted actively to kill her over her objections. Malice aforethought. If you mean in a moral sense, I am sure the doctor thought she was acting for the best. I am sure that the convenience of the nursing home and the billing did not play a large role in her thinking.

    But that only makes it worse. The Nazi doctors also thought they were acting for the best. So were the people who performed lobotomies. Are you saying those Nazi doctors were wrong condemned for killing the mentally ill?

  59. The problem with dementia patients is that they no longer have the ability to understand the world around them. Words might come out of their mouth but they are not connected to rational thought as we know it. The woman made her wish to die known when she was able, under a law that permitted a doctor to perform that service. Once she was past the point of comprehending the world around her she has lost any ability to make a decision for herself.

    Imagine trying to stand up such a person as a witness in a murder case. Would the lunatic ravings that he was the killer and she remembers it clearly be sufficient to convict? I’m sure every sane person would call it a travesty. But when it bothers your emotions to think of a person wanting to die, then those lunatic ravings become sacred truth which must never be questioned.

    And I would note, that the family ALSO agreed it was the right time, as they assisted in the process. Who the hell is anyone else to come between a sick, broken old woman and her family, when this course of action has been discussed and agreed on prior? Their judgement was presumably the gold standard for ‘the right time’ and they made it. There is no case to answer.

  60. My mother wanted to die and said it clearly to us all, but in our backward country it is not permitted to help her and she did not have the courage to do it herself. So she was forced to live as a frightened animal in a cage for years upon years, terrified of her own reflection in the mirror and afraid of the nurses and even her own family, as she did not recognise anyone from a moment before. She soiled herself several times a day, she lost all her weight and muscle tone as it was only safe for her to lay in a bed, she didn’t want to go outside anyway as she didn’t know where she was and immediately became panicked and lost. This is not the way to treat a human being. It is a disgrace that we force people to live this existence.

  61. “You mean like they shouldn’t be forced to bake a cake? Share a bathroom?”

    Nobody should be forced to bake a cake.

    I wouldn’t want to share a bathroom with you (or for anybody else to have to, either), but apparently nobody thinks I should get a choice about that.

    “Already some schools ask potential medical school applicants about abortion. Pharmacists have been threatened if they refuse to stock. Of course the inevitable next step is to force doctors to take part.”

    That’s because we’ve got the NHS, which insists on a common policy across the board. Private health care where each individual provider competes for custom from each individual patient would allow choice on both sides.

    If you don’t like what your doctor offers, find another doctor. If you don’t like what your patients ask you to do, find other patients. If you don’t like what messages your customers want you to bake on their cakes, you can find other customers, and they can find other bakers. Free trade solves all these problems.

  62. @Julia: “Would they have been better off dead? Yes. Would it have been murder? Yes” Whether it is murder can be changed by statute law.

  63. Chester Draws

    Advocates of euthanasia almost invariably want someone else – a doctor – to do the dirty work for them and kill them.

    Total codswallop. You are just making up shit.

    People top themselves all the time (it’s called suicide and it’s not uncommon). What we notice in the euthanasia debate are the ones who can’t do it themselves, not the large number that do it quietly and don’t get noticed.

    Suicide and euthanasia are not the same thing. Euthanasia is assisted suicide, and it is morally problematic because of the assistance

    Many people do not have the skills to kill themselves in a halfway nice way, and especially if they are quite unwell. Just as most people can’t slaughter a cow or goat properly, so get professionals to do it for them. Professionals do a better job, and are to be preferred for that reason.

    Death is never “halfway nice”. But a hot bath, a stiff drink, some novocaine on the wrists and a new razor blade is not such a bad way to go. And then there are overdoses, carbon monoxide…the chemicals used by Dignitas can be found on the internet. Given that all these options are better than a lingering, miserable, painful death. and given the reliability of modern prognoses, most people could plan their own suicides while they were still capable.

    When people are given a button to press that starts the process of death, as happens in Switzerland, they generally do the business rather than chickening out.

    Generally, yes. But there quite a few who chicken out. My concern is that legalising euthanasia would lead to abuses that would far outweigh the benefits to those people who want someone else to kill them in order that they don’t have to make any unpleasant decisions or actions to achieve their own deaths.

  64. NiV – “but apparently nobody thinks I should get a choice about that.”

    Of course you do. Just go al fresco.

    “That’s because we’ve got the NHS, which insists on a common policy across the board. Private health care where each individual provider competes for custom from each individual patient would allow choice on both sides.”

    Actually no. Other places do similar things. If the BMA has a hard on for abortion, and they do, then students will have to face questions. It is not the NHS that admits them.

    “If you don’t like what your doctor offers, find another doctor.”

    A bit hard when you’re confined to a home and your doctor is drugging your coffee.

    dearieme – “Whether it is murder can be changed by statute law.”

    I am not sure that Natural Law can be flouted quite so easily. You can pass a law insisting that pi is 3.0 but I am not sure the real world will agree.

    Theophrastus – “People top themselves all the time (it’s called suicide and it’s not uncommon). What we notice in the euthanasia debate are the ones who can’t do it themselves, not the large number that do it quietly and don’t get noticed.”

    Actually no. What we notice are people who are perfectly capable of topping themselves but want someone else to do it. For the simple reason that people who are too weak to pull a trigger are usually too weak to do interviews. It is a rare case – like the boy who was paralyzed from the neck down – where the advocate can’t do it himself.

    “Many people do not have the skills to kill themselves in a halfway nice way, and especially if they are quite unwell.”

    Less gun control then. Swallowing twelve pills is not hard.

  65. “My concern is that legalising euthanasia would lead to abuses”

    So legalise euthanasia and outlaw the abuses.

    This is like saying “My concern is that legalising free speech would lead to abuses” or “legalising drugs would lead to abuses” or “legalising prostitution would lead to abuses”, and so on. Any freedom can be abused, and giving people freedom gives them the freedom to abuse it.

    Can you think of any freedom where the main argument of its opponents was not that it could be “abused”?

    “Suicide and euthanasia are not the same thing. Euthanasia is assisted suicide, and it is morally problematic because of the assistance”

    Euthanasia comes from the Greek for “good death”. It means any death brought on to prevent suffering a worse one. A suicide can be euthanasia too. I think the word for what you’re objecting to is “homicide”, and whether there can be such a thing as a “justifiable homicide”.

  66. “Of course you do. Just go al fresco.”

    Excellent! We have a solution to the “bathroom bill” issues! Anyone who doesn’t want to share a bathroom with people of a certain type (black, Catholic, infidel, whatever), just “go al fresco”!

    (Unfortunately, there are even people who will object to others taking a dump in the street. You just can’t satisfy some people.)

    “If the BMA has a hard on for abortion, and they do, then students will have to face questions.”

    OK. Pick another medical authority. Competition in everything!

    “A bit hard when you’re confined to a home and your doctor is drugging your coffee.”

    … but only with with your prior permission.

    “I am not sure that Natural Law can be flouted quite so easily. You can pass a law insisting that pi is 3.0 but I am not sure the real world will agree.”

    Heh! I’m constantly astonished at the way “natural law” always coincides so exactly with the specific cultural prejudices and customs of the person citing it. I’ve even seen people with diametrically opposed values both citing “natural law” as justification. It’s a lot like the way “God’s law” is always on the side of the arguer. Any Gods who say differently must be false ones.

    There’s a mathematical proof that Pi is not 3. But history is replete with examples of deliberate killings that were not considered “murder”. You can’t prove an “ought” from an “is”.

    “Actually no. What we notice are people who are perfectly capable of topping themselves but want someone else to do it.”

    No. What we see is people who want to live for as long as possible while they’re capable, but want to end the suffering when they’re no longer so. Requiring people to top themselves while they’re still healthy and compos mentis is perverse.

    “Less gun control then. Swallowing twelve pills is not hard.”

    It’s amazing how many people manage to mess even that up.

    And anyway, you’d just prosecute the person who sold them the gun or the pills. That’s “assisting”, that is.

  67. SMFS
    You are responding to Chester Draws, not me. Apologies for not making it clear that my comments are in italics.

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