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Euthanasia For Humans - Right or wrong?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
OK, many of us have had to euthanise a dear, beloved pet at one time or another due to a deathly illness or injury where the animal was suffering. I have had to do this (I believe I've told you all of Delilah) and cried like a baby in the process.

OK, well, what about human euthanasia?

For instance, were my neurological disorder to completely cripple me tomorrow and finally take any and all hand/eye/movement/leg movement and cooridnation, where I would just be a concious in an inoperable body and require being taken care 24/7 for the next 40 years without there ever being any hope for a recovery...well, I wouldn't want to live like that. To be a burden to others or live my remaining days miserable in a nursing facility. Forget that! I wouldn't and I won't!

So, if a PERSON has a deadly injury, but it will take a year for their bodies to succumb or if they were so sick that they weren't capable of taking care of themselves and, thus, living lives that they consider unhappy and miserable, would euthanasia be justifiable?

It is for animals, why not humans? Is what Dr. Kavorkian did wrong?

My personal insights, because I have had such thoughts because of my problem, is that it IS acceptable. And, I counter those who might offer they don't think that's right, because, unless they have had to face a possible/potential situation themselves or love someone (Human wise I mean) they can obviously see the misery and unhappiness that living in such a way causes, then it is, indeed, difficult to have a scale to judge by.

OK, I know that this is a HEAVY subject (Geez, using that word might be dating me), but I really am curious as to the general thought among so many caring/sensative people. Besides, it seems to be a very controversial topic publicly, so given kittyfoots prodding of controversial subjet matter (and my own), I thought that a thought provoking subject, as such, would be interesting.
post #2 of 32
OK..I KNOW i'm gonna get flamed for this answer ...but this is a sore subject for me.

In MY opinion "assisted suicide" is cowardice writ large. Not because I think one should hang on to the last breath. But because it is putting this decision off on somebody else's shoulders. Basically you are saying I don't have nerve enough to end it so you do it for me.

In the old tribal cultures the elders or infirm used to voluntarily leave the tribe in hard times...often to die. Right or wrong that took courage...and they made that action on their own.

If someone decides "I don't want to live like that"...barring a sudden accident or unexpected complications from illness,operation,etc...why put the responsibility of death off on some loved one or doctor. It's your decision..it's your responsibility.

As for Dr K...he made a whole whack of money and enjoyed the noteriety waaay too much. He may or may not have had good intent when he started but I think he got caught up in the spotlight and money. Kind of like a rock star thing. I am stuck with the image of him smiling and waving to the cameras.

Anyway...that's only my opinion.
post #3 of 32
Ok in a way I agree with Kittyfoot. I don't think the responsibility should be put on anyone else. I think that there should be some type of form that a person can have drawn up ahead of time similar to the forms that say "do not revive or put on life support". But I think these forms should only be legal and acted upon in the event that there are several opinions to the effect that the person involved can not EVER improve and will be a burden to others for as long as it takes for his body to die. Then and only then should the person be allowed to be put to sleep so to speak. Ok that's my opinion.....
post #4 of 32
But what if you can't? What if you are in a vegitative state? Or paralyzed to the point of not being able to do anything for yourself?

I've never quite understood exactly why suicide is against the law.
post #5 of 32
Deb I meant it as a paper adults that would be interested in this type of thing would have ahead of time. A paper to be done before it is needed same as a will or other such papers..
post #6 of 32
A tough question alright. I don't have any real pat answers and I think the subject calls for any flippancy on my part. I would really hate to be put in the position of deciding to pull the plug.

We have an ongoing situation here in Canada involving a Saskatchewan farmer who euthanized his young daughter who had a terrible and uncurable case of cerebral palsy. He was arrested,charged,convicted and sentenced..appeals are still being heard in the courts.

A disturbing question keeps arizing when discussing legalizing the procedure...at what point do you differentiate between ending a loved ones suffering and murdering someone you view as a burden.Did they zap uncle leo because they wanted to end his pain or to get at his money before it was all spent on medical bills??

I don't want my life ended because the doc was having a bad day.
post #7 of 32
I don't want my life ended because the doc was having a bad day.
Kittyfoot note in my answer above that I said "several opinions to the effect that the person involved can not EVER improve"and not just one doc that may be having a bad day.
post #8 of 32
My dad had a DNR order (do not resusitate) when he was terminally ill last year. I know that they exist.

Unfortunately, they are not a standard issue kind of thing, nor should they be. People sometimes get into a situation like that when they are least expecting it; usually an accident or something. One can't really amke up his or her mind as to what they would choose in that type of situation unless confronted with it. Look at Christopher Reeve. Would you want to live if you were him? And how would you know for sure unless the same thing happened to you?

Whenever I think about this issue, I am reminded of Karen Anne Quinlan, a young NJ woman who did a bizarre combination of pills and alcohol and ended up in a 10+ year coma. There was a huge court battle concerning continuing her life support. She had NO hope of recovery. I sure wouldn't want to be wasting away in some hospital bed for years and years and years. Somebody pull the plug, already.

One of my friends who rides a motorcycle has repeatedly told me that if he ever gets into an accident where something horrific happens that I should promise to end it for him. Now I'm not saying I'd put a gun to his head or anything, but I would try my best to see that his wishes were honored if he couldn't say for himself.

(Make room in the foxhole for me).
post #9 of 32
All I know is if it were me I would want to die. I would not want to live in a "vegetable state". I do not want to suffer or put my love ones through the pain of seeing me that way.
post #10 of 32
Deb anyone can get a DNR from any lawyer. Or you can get them from someone that has one, type one up of your own just like it and get it noterized. Then make several copies. Anytime you have to go for even so much as minor surgery present the hospital with a copy.
post #11 of 32
Apparently I was unclear on that line about the doc having a bad day.

I meant if this became legalized,common practice with the doctor being the final arbitrator. Human nature being what it is;someone eventually will make a bad decision or a hurried one. One hears of operations and wrong amputations done because someone wasn't paying close attention. What if your loved one got terminated by a doc that was thinking about his stock portfilio?
post #12 of 32
Just thought I'd point out that Meme and I each have our own thoughts on things...no mindless fascinations here. She is a person in her own right as am I. Smart Lady!!!!

Besides,she'd KILL me if I patronized her.
post #13 of 32
Yeah Kittyfoot I understand what you meant. But I said SEVERAL doctors should have to agree. And no I would not harm you at all. May not speak for awhile but would never harm you...grin
post #14 of 32
I realize that (about the DNR). But I am one of those people who is not quite sure what my decision would be unless I was in the situation. I wouldn't want to decide today about my will to live tomorrow.
post #15 of 32
I don't think there is a proper answer to this question... I do think that euthanasia should somehow be legal and available, but I don't have any answers as to how. If you hadn't prepared a document of some kind *before* you got into, say a vegitative (sp?) state, who would decide for you? The doctor? S/he wouldn't know what kind of a person you are, and whether it would indeed be *your* choice to end your life. Your family? What if they decide to have you euthanised to inherit sooner, or to be saved the trouble of looking after you? Then again, if the person could still communicate their wishes but not be able to commit suicide, when can you trust that the person is not, for example, just trying to be kind to their family, not to be a burden to them? Meaning that the person would still want to live, but for feeling guilty about hanging on on the expense of others. If euthanasia did become a common practise, how would you prevent it from becoming "the thing to do", so that you *could* choose not to go through with it without having to explain yourself or feel guilty about not doing it (and saving the state some money required for your care, or saving your family the trouble)?

I truly do think that if you wish to die, you have the right to do so, and someone should be allowed to assist you if you were incapable of it yourself, but there are so many questions and concerns to be answered first before euthanasia can become legal, IMO. When my grandmother died when I was about 14, my grandfather lost all will to live, became sick as well, but he still managed to end his own life (almost a year after grandmother died). I remember feeling shocked, but my father (these were his parents) told me that if my grandfather had no wish to live on without his wife, he has every right to end that life and nobody should have the right to force him to live- against his wishes. People could wonder if he'd gotten over grandmother's death, and "changed his mind" later on, and there's no answer to that question. He got to end his life the way he wanted, and I think that's a decent end to a long, happy life. But on the other hand, my grandmother had to suffer for more than a year with advanced cancer and no hope of recovery, and my father later told me that she would have wanted euthanasia to be possible. Her husband was too devastated to do this for her, wanted to hang on to her as long as possible, and of course nobody in the medical profession would have adhered to her wishes.

So who knows? I think it should be possible, but I don't know how or when. I sometimes wish I was still 15 and saw all these issues as black and white...
post #16 of 32
Tough one...

Who's to tell when a person really wants to die? I am referring to conditions of depression, where a person may have a death wish, but with the right therapy will get over them. I know I've been in some rough spots before and I sure am glad I didn't do anything drastic, because I'm very happy with my life today. You could say that certain non curable injuries or illnesses are different, but it's very hard to say which. Very often the situation would cause one to become depressed and perhaps the right therapy will help her regain a mental and emotional balance that would make want to stick onto life?

Has anyone read "Tuesdays with Murray"? It's a great book about an old man who is dying from a non curable cancer (I think it was cancer). He is gradually losing ability to perform even the simplest tasks, but he takes it all with an amazing philisophical attitude that makes him a very happy man. He claims that he learns more about his life and himself in these hard times than in all his lifetime and therefore he enjoys it! Sure, he has his tough times and at least one crying session a day, but he insists on making the best of the rest of his time. One of the things that I remember most about the book, is how he relates to the face that he can no longer wipe his own behind and needs someone to do it for him. Instead of feeling mortified by his own helplessness, he cherishes it as proof that he is being loved and cherished as a little baby...

I guess, what I'm saying is that a lot of it is in the mind. I know that if anything like that would happen to me, I would probably want to die. But if, God forbid, it happened to my husband, I would do anything to keep him with me as long as I can! I wouldn't let anyone pull no plug out, unless I knew for sure that he was in agony and pain that cannot be treated.

Just my 2 cents...
post #17 of 32
Tough question for sure and one filled with issues of God and conscience. In NYS there are forms called Health Care Proxy's - these are to be filled out by the individual they concern. My husband and I both have them on file with our Dr. and keep a cc at the house. These let YOU decide what - if any - life support, etc you choose. You can updte them or change/delete things at any time you want to. I have been very specific in mine about blood issues - hydration, feeding, etc. This takes a lot of the burden off your loved ones if you cannot speak and act for yourself. Do I think Dr. K was right - maybe not - but then I have been blessed not to have walked in the shoes of someone who is suffering endlessly every day - I am a firm believer in the quality of life being of upmost importance. Do I want to lay around trapped by my body - being kept alive by tubes and machines - NO I do not.
One thing about a DNR at least in this state - The ones you complete in the hospital do not have authority in the Community - you need one for each situation - otherwise, the Rescue Squad must act with CPR, etc. Don't know if that is the same in other areas.
post #18 of 32
I've had a brush with this one.

My mother was diagnosed with cancer my freshman year in high school. By my senior year she was in a wheel chair, lost 60lbs, 5 inches & was in & out of the hospital.

She pulled me aside one day and said to me 'if things get really really bad, and Don (my stepdad) decides to let me go instead of keeping me hanging on, I need you to make sure that grandma & grandpa (her parents) don't blame him. They aren't here every day & they don't see how much pain I'm in, or how hard it is. You have to make sure they don't blame him'.

well the night of my graduation party (they had let her out of the hospital just to attend the ceremony & party) she was getting worse. She couldn't control her bodily functions for the first time. When I woke up the next morning the paramedics where there because she had woken up & couldn't breathe so they came with their oxygen tanks.

they weren't able to help her so they took her to the hospital. her heart stopped on the way thier & they brought her back, but she was in a coma.

when we got their the doctor explained to us that she had double phnemonia, her bones were hollow from the cancer eating them, and that now the cancer would attack her brain, liver, heart, lungs, etc. There was no garenteen that she would ever wake up or if she did have any mental capasity.

We all said our goodbyes, and let her go. She didn't want to live like that, and we honored her wish. I think it's safe to say that since my mom didn't even sign her will, that there wasn't anything legal saying that she didn't want to hold on. I don't know why she didn't get around to signing her will, maybe it was too hard to admit that she was going to die. maybe the cancer made her forget. I don't know. it caused a lot of problems because my step dad got everything legally.

anyway, she was sick for over 3 years & even though she didn't put anything down on paper we knew that she didn't want to live like a vegetable.

I don't regret what we did, and I wouldn't change it. I know it was the right thing for the situation. And I dont' hold anything against my mom for having us make that decision. because we didn't. we knew what she wanted us to do, and we honored that. I believe it was the ultimate act of love. I want her with me for as long as possible, but it wasn't the way she wanted to live (or not live best case scenerio she would have awakened, to live out the short time she had left with the cancer attacking her body & making every breathe painful.

as it was, when she died she hadn't been able to eat for 3 days without throwing up. her body wouldn't keep anything down. it was literally shutting down on her.

I believe it's a choice you can't make, until you are there.
post #19 of 32
You are a good daughter!
post #20 of 32

thanks so much for saying that. I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face, and it means a lot to hear that. It's really the most important thing I aspire to be.


post #21 of 32
I lost both my mom and then my dad to cancer - dying with dignity is very important to me. Crying is good for the soul........I'm there with you.
post #22 of 32
Heck no, Eeva, seeing things in shades of gray is one of the best things about growing up. I know a few mature adults who still only see things in black and white. It makes it very difficult for them to see the nuances of individual situations.
post #23 of 32
Well, there goes my cleaning day!

You guys are SO bad for me. This issue is one that is very close to my heart.

Back when I was 18, my Mom, who had terminal lung cancer, layed in her bed and said she couldn't go through it anymore. She was being given injections of Morphine by my father several times a day for the pain, was wheelchair bound and lost the vision in her right. She was in so much agony and so dependent upon my dad (her childhood sweetheart), that she said she felt humiliated. She wanted it to end. Well, back in 1973, there was no marijuana for pain and nauseousness of chemotherapy. Just hard drugs. Day after day I saw her deteriorate from a lively, rambunctious Mom that I loved with all my heart and sole, to a woman of 85 pounds who was taken out of my house in a coma at 2 a.m. because the cancer had gone to her brain. Where was Dr. Kevorkian when she needed him???? She died at the age of 44.

Do I believe in Dr. K? You bet I do. Do I believe that anyone has the right to tell me how to live my life or when to end it? Hell no. In Connecticut, DNR (do not resuscitate) laws are very specific. I worked on an ambulance for 20 years and we were taught that if a patient had a BRACELET that said DNR, we were not allowed to perform CPR or any life-saving measures on them.

I will absolutely never force my family into debt because someone believes that I need machines to keep me alive. If I ever feel or am ever diagnosed with a life-altering disease that is eventually going to turn me into a lump in a bed on machines, I will take the necessary action to see that I cruise on outta her with dignity, never being a burden to my family. And it will be at my own hands. I would never ask my family or friends to do it for me. I wouldn't want them to live with the guilt for the rest of their lives.

That's MY opinion.

Dr. K is my hero.


Now for some housework before I start to cry.
post #24 of 32
When my father was ill last year with what eventually turned out o be leukemia, he wanted to live in the worst possible way. I won't even go into my thoughts about the doctors who were treating, or rather mistreating him for majority of the time.

At any rate, when it came down to the end and his life involved nothing more than trips to the hospital for transfusions, which became more necessary with more frequency than was medically possible, he finally elected to have Hospice come in and take over his care. He was at home, but one of the conditions of Hospice care was that he had to discontinue all other medical care except for pain maintenance. Watching him die was the hardest experience I have ever had, but he got to go on his own terms. I do know that Hospice will care for a person for up to 6 months, so I suppose it is a form of human euthanasia. The nurses were wonderful. I know that the one there with my dad and us at the end was a special kind of

If I was in a situation such as my dad's, I would do the same thing. He had no quality of life left. I miss him each and every day, but I don't for one second begrudge him the choice of letting go when there was no hope left.
post #25 of 32
Ok, so this is a hard subject to pin an opinion on.

Basically.. if a person in a veggie state.. or is in extreme amounts of pain and will without a doubt die anyway... I see no problem with letting them go. Making them stay alive as long as possible when they are in pain and they are miserable emotionally, mentally, physically.. in any state.. to me thats just as bad as torture. These people are suffering inside and out.. and if they know that they are gonna die soon anyway or they won't be able to have much of a life because of medical conditions.. then its their right to let go.

Most people know now that if they are ever in a veggie state.. they do or don't want to live. I, for one, don't. I have also told my boyfriend, mother, family etc this and etc.

If the person is of sane mind when they make the decision then I think their wishes should be respected. Let them go how they want to go.

post #26 of 32
Since the subject has been brought back up, it makes this relevant again.
post #27 of 32
I brought this back up because we were on the subject, and I think there are a lot of intelligent opinions expressed here. I know that I personally don't have the energy to repost my story.
post #28 of 32
AP - I am sorry that my other question brought this up again for you -It was unintentional on my part - just had this thought on my mind a lot lately after watching TV and having a new dx myself to deal with. Please forgive me if I have offended you....
As I told you before - i agree with the decison you made to let your mom go - I hope that someone would love me enough to do the same.
post #29 of 32
Debra, there is NO reason to apoligize. I didn't mind the subject being brought up at ALL. It reminded me of this thread, which has a lot of insightful feedback IMO, and I thought it might be of interest to those who hadn't seen it before.

I personally didn't want to repost what I had before, simply because it's a long story. It didn't bother me at all that the subject had been brought up again, I just thought it made this thread relevant, and there are some people who posted who aren't around much anymore, like Meowman and Cassandra Starr who had something of value to say.

You didn't offend me in the least. I'm sorry I gave you that impression.
post #30 of 32
AP - you didn't give me that impression at all! I just felt bad for bringing up painful memories for you.
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