1. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    Washington lets elderly woman die

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Mercurial, May 23, 2009.

    The state of Washington legalized assisted suicide for terminally ill victims recently. Like the state of Oregon, which has allowed over 400 citizens to take lethal doses of chemicals to shorten their lives since 1997, this voter-approved bill had its first casualty. (Montana also legally allows citizens to obtain drugs of a lethal dose used for suicide, but the amount of people who've taken this approach is unreported.)

    Linda Fleming, age 66, suffered from cancer of the pancreas and voluntarily euthanized herself on Thursday (May 21st) with family members, her doctor, and her dog by her side in her home in Sequim, Washington.

    On her decision, she said, "I am a very spiritual person, and it was very important to me to be conscious, clear-minded and alert at the time of my death. The powerful pain medications were making it difficult to maintain the state of mind I wanted to have at my death. And I knew I would have to increase them."

    Eligibility (in Washington)
    - At least 18 years of age
    - Declared mentally competent
    - A resident of the state
    - Two doctors must certify the patient is terminally ill and has less than six months to live
    - Patient must make two oral requests 15 days apart and a written request witnessed by two people
    - Patient must administer the drug himself
    - Doctors and pharmacists are not required to fill these lethal prescriptions if they oppose the law

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090523/D98BUEG80.html

    --------------

    What do you guys think about this? I'm torn. I dont believe the government should regulate who is and is not allowed to take their own lives in the first place, but then again, having been involved in a similar situation before, I would certainly urge everyone to avoid this process. I'm politically for it but morally against it.
    I guess this way, for citizens who are already slated to die, it's at least a little better of a compromise. It's not like it's "a temporary problem with a permanent consequence;" these people will die...

    PLEASE KEEP ALL DISCUSSION CIVIL.
     
  2. Lavarian
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    Lavarian Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure how I feel about this exactly. I'm leaning more towards the "You shouldn't cut your life off early" even if you are terminally ill. Who knows what you could potentially accomplish for the good of someone else from this day to your last? That, of course, is my own personal belief. This one is particularly tricky due to her reasoning- wanting to be mentally clear when she dies and not doped up on pain meds. I can't say that I blame her there, but I also doubt that the spirit (if you believe in that sort of thing) would be tied to the body's feelings and physical state.

    Sorry, I'm rambling now. Just my thought process.
     
  3. Lionslicer
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    Lionslicer New Member

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    If someone is terminally ill, and they want to die, I believe you should allow it. It's insane suicide is illegal anyways.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    FAIR WARNING - potentially inflammatory topic

    As with every thread dealing with controversial subjects, this one will be closely watched. As long as everyone remains respectful toward everyone else's beliefs, the thread may continue.

    FAIR WARNING! In the past, we have simply closed the thread when it gets too heated. This time, whoever takes it to the point that requires it to be closed will also be subject to an infraction.

    We have had a very poor track record with contraversial threads in the past, and this is why we will follow a zero-tolerance policy on this one.

    So please keep the tone respectful at all times.
     
  5. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Suicide in and of itself is not illegal, not in the take you away in handcuffs sort of way. Doctors being allowed to oversee a patients decision to kill themselves is illegal for the doctor, not the person.

    To that, I am opposed. I agree with the law's stipulations on who can qualify for this as far as doctors being allowed to assist, or at least oversee.

    People will kill themselves laws or no laws, doctors or no doctors. Most people who are terminal have come to terms with dying and want to die with some semblance of grace and dignity. Using the prescribed drugs intravenously allows them to die when they are ready to and in the way they want to.

    I believe in freedom.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, it is illegal to attempt suicide in most parts of the USA.
     
  7. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Yes, but they can't do anything to you if you succeed. And attempting might land you in the nut-ward until you're deemed not a threat to yourself or others. I've never heard of anyone being arrested for trying to commit suicide. IDK.

    Edit for further thought:

    And where does the Government get off making a law about that...federal or state. Ugh, that makes me frustrated.
     
  8. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am currently watching my mother slowly deteriorate from a terminal illness. She was given 5 years to live, 6 weeks after my son was born and has now gone past that timelime (by a few weeks now)! YAY! You have no idea how wonderful it is to know she has. But at the same time, when her condition worsens, she is going to be living in sheer hell. She has high blood pressure in the lungs and hardening of the skin around one side of her heart. That is basically all I understand of her illness really. I have seen her on bad days and it scared me to death, and I can't even begin to imagine how terrifying it will be towards the end.

    If I were able to give her the choice when that time comes to live out the remainder of her life in sheer agony, unable to breathe properly, unable to move from a bed and machines, unable to speak and hold her grandchildren and lose her dignity, then I would give it to her. My mother has always been a strong and independant woman and the rock of our family, the thought of her sufferring like this is more terrifying than actually losing her.
     
  9. yellowm&M
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    yellowm&M Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally I think that is someone is that sick and they know they are going to die and they want to end their life sooner rather than later to avoid more pain an suffering, then it's fair for them to have that choice. My personal view is quality of life over quantity, it's better to live a shorter life an have it be happier and healthier, than to live a long one that you are forced to be on medicines and confined to a hospital with no hope of getting better.
    So I'm not saying people should always do that, I just think that people should have the choice to do so if they want it for whatever reason they have.
     
  10. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is why I think that in situations like your mother's, assisted suicide should be allowed. True, who knows what you could still accomplish if you chose to live, but if you're in that kind of a situation, I don't think a "what if" like that should be the only thing forcing you to stay alive and suffer if you don't want to.
     
  11. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    I lost a very good friend to a very aggressive, very rare cancer called Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Carcinoma, and those who are diagnosed with it are generally told they have anywhere from five days to six weeks.
    My friend lived for over a year before the cancer consumed him.

    I dont believe that even if this law was passed in my state, he would have opted for it; he had a wife, stepson, and little girl en utero to live for, who he thankfully was able to witness the birth of. But what if he hadnt had such a strong family by his side? Or what if he was generally pessimistic, chose to die because he just assumed he would never live beyond a few days? I can guarantee you any oncologist would have signed off on this option.

    But after he was able to get into contact with a doctor who actually knew what the disease was (the disease is so rare, many doctors havent even heard of it, or have only read about it and have no treatment options), the pain was managable, and he lived, yes, a painful last year, but he was happy. We had so many happy memories, when he wasnt in thel clinic. He saw his little girl, his only little girl born and was able to see his first anniversary with his wife. If he had chosen to die...

    I dont know. I dont believe suicide should be illegal in the first place (although assisted suicide certainly should be), not because of religion but because of the passion I have to live! How could anyone dream of taking that away?

    I dont know, I guess I'm not making sense. This just makes my head spin. I guess it's a good thing the law was passed, but I know that at least some of those 400 Oregon victims and quite possibly the first Washington victim did have the chance to experience the same happy memories that my friend did; I dont care what the doctor's prognosis is.

    Science is supposed to be an exact science, but it's not. It is defied daily, especially in the medicinal field. Not only can miracles happen in which we can cheat death, at least for a little while, but science is ever changing. Kill yourself today and the cure for cancer could be discovered tomorrow.
     
  12. Sphi
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    Sphi Member

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    Just food for thought: I feel like it's a bit selfish for suicide to be illegal for the terminally ill. If we force them to live in horrible condition until they waste away, just because we don't want to see them go -- we're only thinking of our own happiness, not the happiness of our loved ones. If they made it so assisted suicide for the terminally ill is illegal, it would basically be like saying, "You now need to suffer and be miserable every day for the next x amount of months just because I don't want you to die."
     
  13. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    BAd ass. Good for her and Washington. If a person is terminaly ill, and going to die in a painful/expensive battle with their illness, one which is very stressign on their families as well, I say let them have that option.


    Suicide: the only crime which is only illegal if you fail at commiting it.
     
  14. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    No one ever said that. It's simply not true.
     
  15. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, I know a lot of people who've said that, both in and out of the medical / hard science fields of varying proficiency on the subject.

    But anyways. If we can legalize it for terminally ill, why not the old people? They're going to die soon, too, arent they? And if it's okay for old people to kill themselves, where do you draw the line between 'old' and 'young'? Let's just not have that silly law; a novel idea...

    I dont encourage suicide, and I really hope no one does, but the limits the government has is kind of ridiculous. The only ones who are going to obey that law are the ones who arent going to consider it. If you were contemplating suicide, I have a strong feeling you'd probably not consider the consequences if you failed, since you arent exactly planning to fail, now are you? :rolleyes:
     
  16. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am in favor of all drugs being legalized. Suicide being legaized. Homosexuals beaing able to marry. All these silly laws, which limit the personal freedoms of human beings, should be abolished.

    If I make it illegal does it stop anyone? Nope. (Ok, MAYBE people in the pre-conventional and conventional mindsets -- see Lawrence Kohlberg for details-- but that really doesn't count, as they are not fully developed.)
     
  17. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Arguing the legality of suicide seems sort of pointless to me. Call suicide the cowards way out, a desecration of life, the humane thing whatever. In the end whatever you call it is sort of meaningless on the grand scale. Make it illegal, who are we going to prosecute for said crime? It's homicide of the self. The victim and perp are dead by default. Making it legal? Why bother making a law at all? Anything that isn't illegal is obviously legal.

    The only question is assisted suicide which I find to be a bit more of a moral quandary.
     
  18. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mercurial, I understand what you are saying there. People are told you have x amount of time to live and they do live beyond that at times, which is truly amazing.

    But when the quality of their life is unbearable, to the point they are stuck on machines, living in either constant agony, unable to even lift a hand anymore because of their illness and there is no way to help them other than to drug them even more so they no longer even have any idea of what is going on or that they are even really alive, I think that they should be given the choice before they get to that.

    My mothers condition is causing her entire body to slowly shut down. There is no cure and they have said, there probably never will be. They can only pro-long her life as much as possible. Eventually though, she will be kept alive by machines once her condition takes over her body and she goes into a downward spiral. She has said to me a large number of times now, "That is not living, that is not who I am. I don't want to be remembered like that." Why should she have to be?

    Mind you, she is that determined to prove the doctors and all that wrong it isn't funny. She isn't about to let her illness defeat her and I doubt it will for a good few years. But one day... I know our family is going to be going through a very hard time and she will be living her worst nightmare!
     
  19. Eoz Eanj
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    Eoz Eanj Contributing Member Contributor

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    Isn’t it selfish of us to assume we understand the level of suffering that an individual must experience before suicide is an acceptable option?
    The probability of whether someone lives or dies is not something we should use to justify what actions should be taken. To be honest, I find it remarkably presumptuous that someone knows what is better for a person who is dying than the person themselves.

    In my opinion we’re all obsessed with extending life instead of improving it. We think that by extending life that we won’t have to let go, we won’t have to mourn, which, although natural, is essentially a malformed belief because it just may be at the expense of the person we’re holding onto. It’s like that movie ‘the Bucketlist’, where Morgan Freeman’s character’s wife was all like, ‘No you can’t die! I don’t want you to stop treatment, you’re giving up!’ Is it really giving up when the individual has made the conscious choice to make their life better rather than waiting to see if it becomes that way out of circumstance?

    The two concepts are different. As said, it’s a quality vrs quantity issue, and it’s safe to say that someone considering suicide doesn’t see extending their life as improving its quality.

    With this said has anyone considered that maybe making suicide an open and socially acceptable issue that it would actually prevent it? I honestly don’t think it helps that suicide has such a devastatingly immoral social stigma. Maybe people wouldn’t feel like suicide is the only option if they felt they could talk about it. I donno, just putting that out there.
     
  20. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    For the terminally ill, I believe it to be cruel to not allow them the ability to shorten their own suffering. It would not be a choice that every terminally patient would make. Many would fight tooth and nail for every last second of life, but there are also many who would not want to have the last moments of life consist of pain and suffering.

    I really don't see a difference between assisted suicide for the terminally ill and DNR orders. The only difference is in the immediacy of the situation.
     
  21. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I like playing devils advocate, so bare with me on this thoughts.

    How many people make out living-wills, or (I think it is on some drivers licenses) check do not resuscitate? What this means is, if you are dead without a heartbeat, they don't perform CPR and you aren't left on life support should you become brain dead.

    Can't we consider the lack of medical intervention in a possible prevention of death, assisted death?

    We have decided that it is a woman's right to choose when it comes to ending the life of an unborn human, but a person who knows they will die, can't be allowed the same rights to end their life with medical help, as a woman has to end a human's life without it's consent?

    We can't use slippery slope logic when it come to topics like Gay Marriage and Assisted Suicide. If we allow this...then these much worse more extreme things will become allowed.

    Like the: If we allow gay marriage, then polygamy will be legal, marrying children will be legal for pedophiles, animals... We can't think in terms like this, because one doesn't have to do with another. They don't piggyback into law on the coat tails of gay marriage. They would have to be separate laws brought before the government and the vote of the people. Would we ever in a million years think it's ok for a man to marry his sheep? Probably not.

    Assisted Suicide is the same way. Going down the slippery slope of: If we allow this, then we will let old people who aren't terminally ill kill themselves, why prolong their life? Then depressed people will be able to commit suicide with the help of their doctors. THen we will just have people dropping like flies because everyone seems to want to die! But even worse, the government might start making death mandatory! OF course if that last one happens then we have stopped being a Democratic Republic, and become a dictatorship--and we'd have bigger problems to worry about then.

    Allowing one thing, doesn't mean ten even worse things will be allowed. Like with pot, I think it should be completely legal, none of this medical crap, just legalize it completely. Let tobacco companies start producing joints in a five pack for $20, pre-rolled and filtered, and tax the crap out of it. Tax the seeds, tax the mass-growers, tax the companies selling it, and maybe even charge people who want to grow small personal quantities a yearly registration fee. Federal and State governments could make a lot off of a simple easy to grow weed.

    But, no. The old propaganda left over from the 30's is still in circulation today. We don't get addicted to the chemicals in pot. (psychological addition, however still applies.) It doesn't make people violent--quite the opposite normally. It doesn't always make people lazy, lazy people get lazier, but normally productive people can function perfectly fine--sometimes even better, stoned. You can't overdose on pot, there is no Lethal Dosage for cannabis classified. One report I read said a man can at maximum ingest 2 lbs of cannabis buds before he passed out, however was not dead, just so retarded stoned that he had to sleep it off.

    The point is, cannabis is still illegal today because people believe the propaganda that is put out there by the media (both from the 1930's and now.)

    But we say "We can't legalize weed because then, cocaine will become legal, heroine, crack, all prescription drugs. All types of drugs will flood our streets and we will all become addicts."

    It's the most ridiculous argument I've ever heard, but that is almost verbatim what I have heard come out of people's mouths on the subject.

    The government shouldn't have this type of power. It's become so big now that it dictates to us what we can and can't do.

    I live in a seat-belt law state, though I think most have them now. Why should the state governments be allowed to force me to protect myself? I can get pulled over for not wearing my seat belt in town, and can be given up to a $350 fine. If I get pulled over for some other reason and am not wearing my seat belt, they can add it to the ticket.

    I do believe we should have laws, but they shouldn't be allowed to push it so far. We don't need feel good laws, the ones that take away our freedom to make a choice when it comes to our own life. Not wearing a seat belt hurts no one else but me. So I should be allowed to make that choice. If I am dying from a disease and the illness is agonizing, I should be able to have the choice on how I want to die and when. (Though I have a hard time imagining myself at that point.) If I want to smoke a joint or have a beer in the comfort of my own home, I should have that choice.

    It makes me think of the saying from the Wiccan code of ethics, "As Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will" We should be allowed to make choices that don't harm anyone. Our Government's should not be allowed to infringe on our freedom in this manner.

    Sorry this is long, but we're all writers here and long-windedness is kind of tolerated.

    One last point: If we look back in our recent history of America, we can see how groups of people gather together to fight for a cause that appears just and good. Slavery for example. Slavery was harming people, and it was bad because it was one culture was harming another culture. SO groups of people felt compelled to protest for abolition. This was a good thing.

    On the coat-tails of this war two other movements sprung up. Women's rights, and prohibition of alcohol. These movements went hand in hand, because women were tired of being treated like poo by their drunkard husbands. While the fight for equal rights with men was a good thing, prohibition of alcohol came to disastrous results.

    It seemed right and just at the time to get rid of the "devils brew." It was the blasted drink that caused men to be aggressive and belligerent. Though in reality, these men were just abusive jerks anyway, the alcohol just didn't help any.

    Making it illegal for everyone to drink caused an underground movement of, bootleggers, suppliers, and some extremely rich mob families. Prohibition caused the major mob problem in America. These families would not have gotten rich if alcohol had remained legal.

    This sounds like our modern day, doesn't it? With drug dealers and cartels. The exact same thing is happening with drugs as it did with alcohol, and we will never win the "war on drugs."

    While I do believe it should remain illegal to sell things like cocaine, crack, and heroine, I don't think it should be illegal for a person to possess a small quantity of these substances (for personal use not selling.) Pot should be legalized totally.

    This would unclog our justice system. We could then get a better handle on the people selling the hard stuff by getting the dealers and their suppliers, rather than prosecuting every Joe who has a joint on him.

    Why waste taxpayer money on prosecuting doctors for assisting a dying patient with death? Because we are worried it might happen to us someday? Because we are afraid that someone will force us to make that decision when we aren't ready for it? Because we are afraid how it could impact us or our loved ones. What if our ill parent decides that's what he wants to do? How can we support this?

    We all hope to live a long life and die in our sleep of old age. But, more than likely we will die in some other manner. Shouldn't it be up to us, as long as it is in our control, to decide how and when we die?

    Ok, I'm done rambling now.
     
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  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't see why you consider that woman having been allowed to die with dignity and without pain a 'casualty'!

    she had the inherent right to do so and thank goodness lived in a state that didn't try to abridge that right, due to the religious views of strangers who put their own opinions above the rights of others and don't have compassion enough to allow them to end their own suffering...

    i'm an elderly woman and if necessary, i would fight to the end, for the right to leave this life how and when i wish to, and not as heartless strangers would force me to...
     
  23. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I totally agree! Why are terminally ill people who are choosing to end their life with a doctor's assistance being referred to as "victims?"

    Who are they a "victim" of? The doctor? Of death?
     
  24. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    Very good point.

    I agree. I think one of the worst arguments against doing something is "well, if we do 'x', then 'y' will happen." How do you know that?
     

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