Skip to comments.‘Right to die’?: These incredible people found meaning in their lives, despite severe disabilities
Posted on 06/21/2012 3:42:44 PM PDT by wagglebee
Tony Nicklinson is 58 and paralysed from the neck down after suffering a stroke in 2005. He is seeking legal permission for a doctor actively to end his life.
A Channel 4 Dispatches programme this week, Let our dad die, put Tonys case with powerful emotion but it did not tell us that most people with locked-in syndrome do not actually think like this man.
No one can help but be sympathetic to Tony Nicklinson, but cases like his are extremely rare and hard cases make bad law.
The overwhelming majority of people with severe disability - even with locked-in syndrome - do not wish to die, but rather want support to live and the longer people have locked-in syndrome then generally the better they learn to cope with it and find meaning, purpose and contentment within the confines of the condition.
Locked in, but still lost in music: UKs bravest DJ tells the story of Bram Harrison, 34, who suffered brain damage two weeks before his 21st birthday after falling head-first off his bicycle. He was left with locked-in syndrome and can move only his eyes and eye lids.
So he communicates with his eyes: looking up means yes, down means no, cross-eyed means dont know. He chooses letters and words by blinking at them on a screen, which his computer translates into the written and spoken word.
This allows him to easily respond to questions from his small army of committed carers about what he wants and how he feels and also to work as a DJ.
Not surprisingly the playlist for his Eye Life radio show takes weeks to put together but he still does it!
Martin Pistorius is a South African man who ended up paralysed and comatose following a throat infection at the age of 12. His awareness began to improve four years later and by the age of 19 had fully returned.
However it was a further five years before a therapist noticed that he was trying to communicate. The penny eventually dropped that he had been aware of everything going on around him for almost ten years whilst everybody had assumed he was unconscious.
Now, ten years later, aged 36, he is married and runs a computer business despite being still in a wheel chair with limited limb movement and using computerised speech.
His autobiography,Ghost Boy tells the story.
Nikki Kenward was left disabled after a partial recovery from paralysis caused by Gullain Barre syndrome. Her own inspiring personal story is well worth a read. Now she campaigns telling people about the dangers that changing the law to allow assisted suicide or euthanasia would pose to those with serious disability.
Then there is Graham Miles, the pensioner who told how he beat locked in syndrome after suffering a massive stroke.
But perhaps the most famous of all is Jean-Dominique Bauby, the French editor of Elle magazine, who suffered a severe stroke, from which he never recovered, and yet wrote the autobiographical Diving Bell and the Butterfly which was dictated letter by letter and has been made into a major feature film.
Most people with locked-in syndrome are happy, according to the biggest survey of people with the condition.
The desire to die is not primarily about physical symptoms but about the particular person and their ability to adapt to living with a profound disability.
Much as we sympathise with Tony Nicklinson, we should not, as RCGP President Iona Heath argued recently, be seeking technical solutions like euthanasia to what is in reality an existential problem.
That would be a very dangerous precedent indeed.
Reprinted with permission from Dr. Saunders blog.
I understand, I think, how you feel. I am extremely claustrophobic.
However, the will to live and enjoy life is strong. As far as we know, this is our only opportunity for life. It may surprise many of us to know how sweet life may seem when we are facing its end. Even beyond what we may imagine now.
Yea, tell that to someone in constant unimaginable pain who gets force-fed through a tube, can't control a wheelchair and can't even dream because of all the drugs.
If it happens to me, I hope there will be someone man enough to help end my suffering quietly, painlessly and cleanly. Being useless and constantly suffering with no hope of improving is far, far more frightening to me than death.
I'm man enough to do it myself but it's physically IMPOSSIBLE if you are that disabled. If I needed help and could prove my intent to die, I wouldn't want that person prosecuted.
Nicely stated, trisham, but I don’t think that I would change my mind. I will live my life under my conditions and those only.
I have even taken the trouble to outline with the help of the family attorney the conditions under which I would choose to not live. They are written in a legal document which the person holding my medical power-of-attorney can take to a court and have upheld. Any hospital personnel who refuse can be sued; if they don’t follow my wishes they will be held in contempt of court—that always gets someone’s attention.
In other words, nourishment of any sort would be withheld until my death. Gruesome (even to me) but preferable to living under intolerable conditions.
We as a Christian Culture must do everything we can to keep people alive, no matter their condition, no matter their desire, no matter the costs.
And those who would elect otherwise should be protected from their own desire to die, even if it means criminal prosecution.
No matter the costs? Who is going to pay for it if the family cannot? Or should the family just be debt for generations until they have paid back the costs to the hospital?
That is basically the same argument for abortion ion demand. How well do you think that is helping our society?
The irony is that nobody can stop most crimes that are committed.
If I'm driving down the street and decide to run down a pedestrian in the road, there's little that can be done to stop me. I could even adopt the libertine attitude that this is a decision "between me and my God," BUT THIS ABILITY IS NOT A RIGHT.
The libertines seem unable to grasp the fact that abilities and desires are not rights.
>>That is basically the same argument for abortion ion demand. How well do you think that is helping our society?<<
It is not. The aborted child has no say. An adult who wishes to end his/her life can make that decision.
I expect strawmen from liberals, not fellow conservatives.
An adult who wishes to end his/her life can make that decision.
So, you would propose ban those with any form of dementia or other mental disabilities from euthanasia/assisted suicide?
Now, I presume that you think that a person should be able to put this in an advanced medical directive; however, such directives ELIMINATE THE POSSIBILITY of a person changing their mind. This is quite different than a DNR, this is talking about taking deliberate steps to end life.
[ All due respect, but my decision to live or die is MY decision. It is not for you or anyone else to make that decision. Some group saying I have to continue to suffer when I just want to go is just as bad as the UK system where they admit to killing some 130,000 elderly.
You may argue, cajole, plead, whatever, for me to accept your belief, but you DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT to tell me how or when to die. ]
No one has the right to tell me that I cannot partake in “self inflicted sins” such as gluttony, sloth, suicide, etc...
It is not for Big Government to judge those sins, it is God!
IF I wanna commit hari-kari I don’t see why I can’t take my wheel chair /crutches to grand canyon, check and make sure no one is below me and then hurl myself off the ledge.
It may be technically illegal, but how they gonna prosecute? Of course I will be cast down to hell if I do this, but it is my own inherent god given “right” as an individual with free will to decide my own fate even if it is throwing away the gift of life that god has given.
But it should never be big government’s power to decide that for ANYONE except those who have deprived others of life, ie. death penalty for murder.
It always starts the same way. A person should have the right to end their own life with the help of a therapeutic professional. Then we need to relieve others who are mentally or physically ‘inferior’. Then it is the Jews and the gypsies. Then it is you and your kids.
All the death lovers are the same. They always think they can control things. Life, BY DESIGN, is uncontrollable. It isn't.
Slippery slope arguments falsely assume that one thing must lead to another. They begin by suggesting that if we do one thing then that will lead to another, and before we know it well be doing something that we dont want to do. They conclude that we therefore shouldnt do the first thing. The problem with these arguments is that it is possible to do the first thing that they mention without going on to do the other things; restraint is possible.
Using logical fallacies is NOT a Conservative value. Using 2, even less so.
You’re *logical fallacy* reasoning has no bearing on reality.
If you wish to show that it is indeed a logical fallacy, then instead of providing all kinds of theoretic mumbo-jumbo, why don’t you provide a real life example of something that people predicted would take us down the slippery slope and didn’t?
I'm not totally opposed to your view in principle, but I have serious concerns. I think this is a key point where conservatives and libertarians divide, and we need to think through the consequences of that division.
The main reason I'm not totally opposed to your view is that while I believe suicide is immoral, I am not sure I want to promote prosecution of those who attempt suicide. While that may have a valid moral purpose, what secular civic purpose does it accomplish? Would prosecuting attempted suicide really deter people, or just cause them to be more careful to get the deed done right the next time? Is dedicating scarce legal resources to prosecuting attempted suicides a prudent use of tax dollars? Also, the primary victim of a successful suicide is by definition beyond the reach of the state to punish him if he succeeds in his act.
I get your point that you don't want to be forced by civil law to follow the moral tenets of a religion you do not share. I also get your point that not all sinful behavior should be made illegal; in the American republic in which we have not formally established or recognized a particular religious denomination, there are some things which must be left to the individual and his priest or pastor because the civil government doesn't have a Constitutional foundation on which to make laws enforcing certain types of religious doctrine.
There have been times in the not-too-distant history where civil governments **DID** have a Constitutional foundation by which they could enforce Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, or Reformed principles on religious issues which were in dispute among the citizens. Whether we like or loathe that, it's not the modern American situation, and we don't have anything close to a moral consensus on suicide in modern America that could be used as a secular basis for a civil law.
So let's grant your point for a moment that suicide, while it may be immoral, should not be illegal. If we grant that, it's not a major step to say that people who have the legal right to commit suicide should be allowed to ask others for help in doing so, especially if they can't commit suicide themselves.
The problem is that once we cross the line between allowing suicide and legalizing assisted suicide, really bad things follow.
Secular arguments such as the following continue to concern me:
8 posted on Thu Jun 21 2012 18:06:19 GMT-0500 (Central Daylight Time) by Jim from C-Town: “No one is saying you don't have the right to take your own life. Outside of religious constraints, you most certainly do have that right based on the actual ability to do it. What you DO NOT have the right to do is compel the greater society to be complicit and to help procure your death.”
34 posted on Thu Jun 21 2012 19:16:23 GMT-0500 (Central Daylight Time) by Persevero: “rstrahan, you already have a right to die. What you dont have is the right to have someone else kill you. We dont want it to be legal to have someone else kill us. The potential for abuse in these situations is insane.”
Let's be honest: Barring the most extreme situations, virtually everyone has the ability to take their own life by active or passive steps. We don't need to even deal with the problems of pain: popping a pile of pre-selected pills will put you to sleep with minimal if any pain involved.
What concerns me is that Persevero is right — if we officially legalize assisted suicide via doctors or nurses or others in the medical system, the potential for abuse is tremendous. It is only a short step from
1) letting people assist clearly-stated advance directives of people who want to die, to
2) encouraging people to make a decision that cuts costs, to
3) promoting a “duty to die” for people who have little hope of recovery and have become consumers rather than creators of wealth.
There is a very dangerous fiscal libertarian “duty to die” argument that we, as conservatives, need to fight against as hard as we can. Being a libertarian means being a conservative without a moral foundation, and in end-of-life issues, it leads to love of money replacing love of God.
Sometimes the fiscally conservative thing to do is not the morally conservative thing to do, and as “social issues” conservatives, we need to recognize that. Many of us in the pro-life movement realize that abortion is a good way to keep a mother and her baby off the welfare rolls, but believe promoting life is a higher value.
The conservative movement will need to make some hard decisions not only with regard to beginning-of-life issues but also end-of-life issues. The “it's my own body, I'll do what I want to” argument is fundamentally un-Christian, but it has some significant appeal for too many conservatives who don't recognize the difference between being conservative and being libertarian.
>> And it is a LOT more complex
In other words, wagglebee is too #ing stupid to discuss the absurdity of normalizing suicide?
The “right” belongs to Life, and only an idiot would argue otherwise.
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