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Do we have the right to terminate our own life?
May 8, 2007
10:48 pm
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Given that we are in a sound state of mind, Dr. Phillip Nitschke thinks that we have the right to choose how, when and where we will terminate our life that we feel is no longer worth living.

He abhors the overturning by the Australian Federal Government of State legislation that legalized VOLUNTARY Euthanasia .

Now his book "The Peaceful Pill Handbook" has been banned from sale in Australia!! Nebutal(phenobarbital) the drug of Dr. Phillip Nitschke's choice, is also banned from sale or possession in Australia.

Dr. Nitschke points out that if a feeble person asks for help in the opening of the pill bottle containing lethal drugs, then if that help is given and that incurably ill yet perfectly sane person subsequently takes the pills and commits suicide, the helper is liable to receive a sentence of life imprisonment!

Who is the chief protaganist against Dr. Phillip Nitschke in his recent public debate?

None other than Bishop Fisher, a Roman Catholic priest!!! Obviously the priest has the full support of the Vatican.

Read more on this debate.

http://www.ad2000.com.au/artic....._1453.html

The full script is supposedly available from:

http://www.lifeweek.org

However, on that site I found only broken links to what claims to be the full scripts. Did Nitschke win the debate hands down? Was political pressure brought to bear on that site to kill the links?

Do you think that you should have the right to buy a small bottle of Nebutal and tuck it away in a safe place for the day when you might clearly see that your life isn't worth living and you want the choice to exit gracefully with a minimum of fuss?

If life is a gift from the Christian God and I don't believe in the existence of that God, then why shouldn't I have the legal right to forfeit the gift at any time I so choose by legally purchasing the drug Nebutal?

Would Christian do-gooders prefer that I blow my brains out with a 45 calibre pistol and leave a hell of a mess for others to clean up?

Or should I drive my car or motorcycle over a steep cliff at 100 mph and leave a terrible trail of wreckage and gore? If I fail should others have to patch me up against my will?

May 8, 2007
11:34 pm
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bevdee
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Tez,

I don't know which post to put this on--

You pose interesting questions that I have thought about for years.

As you know, I work in the health care field, and years ago, I worked in a large Catholic hospital with a huge neuro intensive care unit. This hospital also had a critical care neonatal unit. I always had mixed feelings when I was called to xray these little premature babies. 40 years ago, these babies would have been stillborn or died shortly after birth, because their little lungs were premature, too. Some days, these babies fighting for their lives, living only because of life support, had 10 or 20 xrays. We shielded their gonads and necks with lead of course, whenever possible, but when an abdomen radiograph was ordered, it couldn't be done. You can't shield the neck very well for a chest xray - it all depends on what tubes or catheters the doctor wants to see. The risk with radiation on small children is sterilization, especially with females. Or damage to the thymus and thyroid. These kids have documented problems just from being born premature and the effects of the radiation on these 2-5 lb babies is still not completely known. Some of those kids were born with spina bifida, and most of those babies never walk. We keep them alive with the technology now available, when they would have died before the technology was available. It has taken the "survival of the fittest" out of the equation.

Is it right to "play god" with this technology? To prolong a life, that in biblical times would have been very very short?

The Catholics are the strongest voice against women's choice- stating abortion is against their god's will. But- now the technology is available to terminate a pregnancy safely. Terminate a pregnancy where it is known that the child will have defects, terminate the fetus of a 13 year-old rape victim- but that is still against god's will. Can't kill it.

Capitol punishment exists in this so called christian nation.

During the time I worked at that hospital, Kavorkian was on trial for assisted suicides. One evening, I was standing in ICU at the door of a patient's room, waiting to take the portable in to do an xray. The tech with me looked around the room - at this unconscious 94 year old stroke patient, the ventilator that was breathing for him, and said "Paging Dr Kavorkian" The respiratory therapist watching the vent said "ah we can't play god"

I looked at the life support equipment and asked him "what do you think we are doing here?"

We were prolonging the life of someone that would have had no quality to it if he were able to breathe without the ventilator.

It's always made me wonder.

Personally, I think we are more humane to our animals than we are to humans.

May 9, 2007
9:49 am
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Loralei
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The way I feel about it is that this is OUR life and we should be able to do as we see fit with it as long as we aren't hurting others. The big question is "being of sound mind" since those experiencing extreme depression should be protected from themselves until they get past that.

For those who have terminal illnesses or are destined to a life of pain and agony, the most humane thing to do is allow them to pass on. In most cases, this simply means withholding treatment except for pain medication. But for those who need help, I think they and/or their doctors should be able to speed up the process.

The same goes with those babies you were talking about, Bev. Survival of the fittest is the most natural function there is. And it is largely because we don't allow that to happen anymore, we are burdened with the weakest members of society who aren't even capable of enjoying their life. Who really wants to live like that? There is a huge difference between living and existing.

I just try to put myself in their shoes and then consider what I would want. In nearly all instances I would rather not exist in excruciating pain, or as a vegetable, or try to live with extreme deformities or other extreme illness/disease. That would be torture and a living hell. And we are playing god when we keep these people alive when in nature, they would have already been long gone.

It all boils down to other people trying to control everyone else. We have a world full of codependents.

May 9, 2007
1:59 pm
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bevdee
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Loralei

With the advent of CPR, the # of brain-dead people has increased, and many of those revived people are in a vegetative condition, living in nursing homes. SOme of these nursing homes are private pay and some are state funded.

I had another thought. Instead of the question being "Is it wrong to pull the plug?", maybe the question should be "Is it wrong to have the plug?"

I can see both sides of the coin.

May 9, 2007
4:16 pm
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Tiger Trainer
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I always wonder where do you draw the line. I can see a terminally ill patient wanting to die peacefully but where and when do you decide that is not worth prolonging?? extreme handicappedness? extreme pain? slight but chronic pain? perpetual asthma? chronic incurable but not life threatening diseases?/How do doctors and health care workers decide when?

May 9, 2007
6:52 pm
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Tiger Trainer

You posed the question:

"How do doctors and health care workers decide when?"

Why should the medical profession alone be burdened with the decision to either withdraw life support,to actively assist a person to die or to fight to prolong a life of suffering knowing the response of the law to any merciful but unflawful action taken by them?

Shouldn't the person's own desires, when fully documented in advance by a legal professional and sanctioned by a qualified examining psychiatrist or psychologist, be taken into account?

Shouldn't such a life or death decision be taken by the patient(if conscious), his/her relatives and the medical profession all in close collaboration with a legal professional?

Even though it probably happens quite often, such a course of action is strictly prohibited by the law in the US and in Australia.

Why is this so? Because as soon as such a private member's bill is introduced into parliament(Oz), the psalm singing do gooders rear up like screaming banshees and the politicians see the votes of the Christian right fast disappearing. Guess how much support such a bill would get?

As I previously pointed out, the wily coyote, little Johnny Howard, overturned state legislation(in the Northern Territory) legalizing VOLUNTARY euthanasia. Little Johnnie sure ain't no devout Christian, but he knows 'which side his bread is buttered on' - that he does know. With the looming Australian federal elections, little Johnnie has given the phrase 'pork barrelling' new meaning.

So it is back to the poor old medical professionals to run the gauntlet yet again and again.

Anyone who says that Christian beliefs don't either directly or indirectly dictate what goes into legislation in the US and in OZ is either a liar, self deceiving, simple minded or just plain naive.

That is my considered opinion.

Here's a question from me.

Why is it that Christians are puzzled by my adverse reaction to having repeated 'bible based enemas', in so many gross and subtle forms, forcibly imposed upon me?

May 9, 2007
6:55 pm
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bevdee
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Tiger, that's a tough decision, and usually the decision is not the physician's. It's the patient's or the family that has power of attorney, I believe. That's why living wills or advance directives are encouraged on admission to a hospital.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.....ly_Ill_Act

For other uses, see Rights of the Terminally Ill Act.

The Uniform Rights of the Terminally Ill Act (1985, revised 1989), has been recommended as a Uniform Act in the United States, and subsequently been passed by many states. The law allows a person to declare a living will specifying that, if the situation arises, he or she does not wish to be kept alive through life support if terminally ill or in a coma.

Many people make use of this act because they do not wish to endure any pain or suffering if weakened by a fatal disease. They want to "die with dignity," so that family members will not have to go through emotional pain of watching their loved one sleep through many years of life with no response to any stimuli.

This form of death is known as passive euthanasia, where death is not inflicted with drugs, but is allowed by cutting off life support.

There are also DNR- Do Not Resuscitate orders, in the case of heart failure. Those orders are written by the dr, on the basis of the individual's advance directive.

Otherwise, they have to be kept alive.

May 10, 2007
7:59 pm
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Bevdee

On the 9-May-07 you wrote to Tiger T:

"Tiger, that's a tough decision, and usually the decision is not the physician's. It's the patient's or the family that has power of attorney, I believe. That's why living wills or advance directives are encouraged on admission to a hospital.

It's great to learn about advances such as these.

If only that attitude could be extended to the legalization of Voluntary Euthanasia.

May 10, 2007
9:33 pm
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That is some great information. Next question (a trivial one) who would you trust to make such a decision for you? My mom is going through the process of making a living will and all of us decided that it would be better for our family that no blood relation should make that decision. so we are going to give my sister in law power of attorney for my mother. (yes sister in law is in health care) but she is also a great consumer advocate and we trust her to make such decisions.)

Another question, where would you personally draw the line if you were conscious?

May 11, 2007
5:31 pm
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Good controversial topic.
Good post Bevdee and loralei,

I agree. We should have the right to decide (if of sane mind) ..to choose to take our own lives. I too believe that we seem to be more humane to animals - than to humans- by allowing
'peaceful' euthanazia for those pets who are dying or in pain....
In California, I had to WATCH my best friends son ....die of starvation...
since he was in a vegetative state and life support was removed. We had to wait and watch him suffer and die for 3 + long days! It was HORRIBLE!
Another friend of mine- was illegally given medication by a compassionate physician to take his life after he was dying of aids and suffering with chronic pain! It took him a whole day--to die...
whereas- I had my poor dog 'put to 'sleep'.....euthanized--...killed...to save him from further pain....and he died within a few minutes in my arms. Painful for the loss-- but peaceful in his parting.

I'm all for people to choose their own destinies and methods of dying...
we SHOULD have that right.
TDM

May 14, 2007
2:09 pm
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glittered when he walked
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I can't think of anything more uniquely personal than one's own Death. How can it be stated that we have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness unless it is understood that we also have the right to die?

May 14, 2007
2:16 pm
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bevdee
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In America the right to die is only for your country. Or of old age.

May 15, 2007
10:33 am
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glittered when he walked
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hmmm...In America? so rights are alienable? or are you just stating the reality and not your own philosophy?

May 15, 2007
12:54 pm
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bevdee
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I only know my reality - I am the center of my universe and the product of my perceptions.

May 15, 2007
5:24 pm
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glittered when he walked
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Well, I'm still confused by your previous statement. were you stating what is the Law? or were you professing a belief of your own, or something else?

You are correct, i believe, that nowhere in the US is suicide legal...my argument is that it shouldn't be illegal.

May 15, 2007
5:32 pm
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bevdee
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Glettered

Just my belief. I agree with you- it should not be illegal. I beleive the individual should have the choice to terminate her/his own life. That's my opinion.

May 22, 2007
12:50 pm
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eve
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suicide is not illegal in the european countries I know.

And it is my personal opinion, that it should be the ultimate right of a person to be able to choose to end their life. But it should be obligatory for every decent person to see to it that everybody has and sees the freedom to choose other options.

A lot of elderly people feel that they don't want to live when they are sick and debilitated. So, first and foremost we should all strive to find better ways for medical and social support for the elderly.

May 22, 2007
2:02 pm
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mj
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Oregon, Belgium and The Netherlands are the only places in the world that have laws specifically permitting assisted suicide.

Oregon's law has become the "model" that is being or will be considered in other states and countries. As those proposals are under consideration, it remains to be seen whether decision-makers will rely on the deceptively rosy picture painted by assisted-suicide supporters - or on the documented reality of the Oregon Experience.

http://www.internationaltaskforce.org/

May 26, 2007
10:38 am
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thewall
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But how do you know if the person who wants to commit suicide really honest to god wants to do it "just bc" they are frustrated and have given up?

VS

someone in a deep state of clinical depression?

If any of those people took a written depression test, they would all score extremely high either way bc they are wanting out, and are hopeless for the future.

Depression is a temporary illness that can be managed with the right medications. It would be a shame to allow people to kill themselves when there really is a way to lift their mood.

May 27, 2007
8:23 am
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Robert123
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I think I would be depressed if I knew there was no cure for a medical condition or that the pain was not manageable by medication. The question is do these people have a sound mind to choose to die or are they just depressed because they have no hope? I can see it both ways. If the depression is treated does this change the outcome of a terminal disease? No it doesn't. And if the pain isn't manageable even with the most powerful of pain medications then would the person have the right to decide?

May 27, 2007
1:27 pm
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sdesigns
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After seeing my mother die from a disease in which there is no treatment or cure, I am in favor of assisted suicide in such a case. After her disease was identified and she was taken off life support, I watched her die a miserable death, saw her take her last breath. I feel it would have been the humane thing to do to end her suffering as she had no quality of life whatsoever at that point- her brain was deteriorated.

Since it is possible that I may have the prion for this disease in my body and may be looking at a death such as hers, I sincerely hope that I would be put out of my misery and not have to suffer like she did. She had no dignity and it was incredibly hard to watch.

SD

May 27, 2007
7:33 pm
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Rasputin
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My heart goes out to all those who lost loved ones thru assisted suicide ~ euthanasia.

As a Christian, I believe that only God has the only right to end up someone's life when He wants to. I know that pain sucks and life sometimes really sucks and stinks. However, even tho I am someone who hates pain and has no tolerance for pain. I do NOT believe in euthanasia. It is really hard to see any wisdom or philosophy to physical pain.

May God give comfort to every one who is going thru pain or who has some loved one going thru pain!!!

May 28, 2007
7:09 pm
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eve

On the 22-May-07 you said:

"suicide is not illegal in the european countries I know."

Perhaps not. If I was considering putting a shotgun in my mouth and pulling the trigger, the thought of what I would be putting others through would prohibit that method. Thus its all about method of choice

If I want a method of killing myself that is nice, neat and in conformity with my wishes, I would require the assistance of a supplier of illegal drugs and perhaps even support from loved ones in making the final transition.

Firstly, I have to break the law by possessing such drugs, perhaps for years before the act of suicide takes place.

Secondly, if I wanted to gather around my relatives immediately prior to my goodbye drink, I would place them all under a terrible cloud of suspicion that undoubtedly would make them all liable for prosecution for aiding and/or assisting in my committing suicide - a very serious offense in Australia at least. Jail terms up to life imprisonment apply in Australia for assisting someone to voluntarily euthanase themselves.

Making it a crime to assist someone to commit suicide and the illegality of seeking medical assistance from willing doctors is what I, and many like me, object to.

It seems to me that the loud mouthed religious hierarchy, their flock of bleeting sheep and their powerful political lobbyists are behind the existence and maintenance of such cruel laws that exist on our statutes - here in Australia at least!!!

But as Richard Dawkins says, religion is a deadly virus and reason its antibiotic.

June 4, 2007
12:22 pm
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WOW!!! That is alot of heavy expressing. I am a Christian & have my beliefs--like going to hell. For the law it only makes sense to punish someone for helping another person die. You as a person make the choice to "terminate your own life" you could only be punished by Him. The other person "assisting" has a choice to either help and be prosecuted or not do such a thing and live ther own life.. Alot of times you see people on the news that killed their loved ones and then took their own lives...Basically we have the right to take our own lives...but i feel its not right to euthanize others or help them. If you try to commit suicide, fail, and are reported u face criminal charges.. I pray this is just discussion.

June 5, 2007
3:43 pm
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I realize this question could be posed from many different scenarios. I have struggled with the suicide decision and have it too deeply ingrained in me somewhere that it is a sin. I also would not want to hurt my mother and others who love me. But my depression and grief are so deep right now that the thought crosses my mind daily. I have a good friend who thinks the Lord forgives suicide for those who are mentally ill. I do not know if this is in the Bible anywhere. Anyway, it is hard to get away from your raising. I had that drummed into my head from a young age that suicide was a sin. I believe I am already living in hell, do not want to make it any worse if there is the slightest chance that there is a real hell.

Another point of view...my uncle had been very ill for a few years and was terminal with congestive heart failure, diabetes and just kept getting more and more problems. Had his left foot amputated two years ago but kept on going. Last year about this time, he began to have more problems and was in and out of the hospital. He developed a bedsore that became septic--I still blame the doctors and hospital for not taking better care of this problem. We had a discussion where he told me he was not ready to die. One of the last times he was in the hospital, his older brother discussed a DNR with him and he agreed to sign it. The very last time he was hospitalized was last September. I went to see him on a Thursday night and he was so weak I had to feed him and he would barely eat anything. He was brought papers to consent for surgery to debride the wound and try to get healing started. I was there and watched him read the possible complications 'including death' and could tell he was scared. I got a call at work the next day that he had coded in surgery. Apparently, surgery renders a DNR not in effect so they resucitated him. He was on a ventilator and had been given synthetic adrenaline to help keep his heart going. At this point, the decision was up to the family as to what to do. We could decide to reinforce the DNR or let it go. We decided as a family to let it go, but in the end it was his decision. The doctors had told us the ventilator was on the lowest setting and he was breathing on his own but the tube in his throat was holding his airway open making it easier for him. While I was with him he kept looking at me like he didn't know what was going on and pulling at the tube. When my grandma got there, she asked him if he wanted the tube out. The doctors told us it might be hours or days before he finally would stop breathing.

It was less than 20 minutes. He was able to talk to us a little bit but was out of it from the morphine. His eyes kept glazing over and I understand many people believe that is when they are trying to 'cross over' to heaven or wherever. He was surrounded by family when he drew his last breath and that is the thing I am thankful for. I have never seen anyone fight so hard to live when I just want to die. I gladly would have given my life for his. Unfortunately, we don't get a choice in the matter, do we?

I am just grateful we had him as long as we did but regret that he suffered so long.

Am I wrong to consider my life so worthless when he struggled to live every second he could?

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