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  If pets are put to sleep to ease their suffering when they are very ill or elderly is it then, ethically acceptable for a physician to participate in physician assisted suicide if the patient who requests it is at the end stage of a terminal illness?

  Is it murder or compassion?

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I can't believe it's even an issue.

"We understand that you'd like to die peacefully and with dignity, Mr. Smith, but we have this dogmatic moral hang-up about allowing you to do that. You can handle the suffering for another few months, right?"

 

As above.

Original Post by phoebe_luvs_smallville:

  If pets are put to sleep to ease their suffering when they are very ill or elderly is it then, ethically acceptable for a physician to participate in physician assisted suicide if the patient who requests it is at the end stage of a terminal illness?

  Is it murder or compassion?

Oops! Wrong Quote!

 

Original Post by kotov_syndrome:

I can't believe it's even an issue.

"We understand that you'd like to die peacefully and with dignity, Mr. Smith, but we have this dogmatic moral hang-up about allowing you to do that. You can handle the suffering for another few months, right?"

 

 This^

I agree with the others. I think if the patient wants it, why not? They'll be suffering alot if they don't, and the only ones who might be against it are family members who are too hopeful or maybe abit selfish.

 

I think the only problem that could possibly come of it is if there is some sort of corruption and someone dies without actually having wanted to. But then again, that's why there should be strict regulations!

I know that if my grandparents/mother/brother/one of my closest friends or anyone for that matter was in severe, relief-less discomfort I would rather have them put to rest. They're dying anyway - why drag it out for days, months or even agony bound years? It will no doubt have an underlying impact on the nearest and dearest. It would just comfort me to know that they'd be looking down on me. Sorry to say: rather death than a cocktail of potent drugs making you completely senseless.

Original Post by kotov_syndrome:

I can't believe it's even an issue.

"We understand that you'd like to die peacefully and with dignity, Mr. Smith, but we have this dogmatic moral hang-up about allowing you to do that. You can handle the suffering for another few months, right?"

 

I agree with this, when a person only has a short amount of time lf, they are in pain etc then i believe that they should have the right to choose to die.

Where is see there being problems is those people who have chronic conditions, who are expected to live for many more years but their quality of life isnt as good as it would have been without the chronic condition. Say a person with MS is having a severe flare up of symptoms, becomes depressed and decides that theyve had enough and want to die. In cases like that, where symptoms may get better, depression may lift and outlook on life improve... thats a huge and permant decision to make.

Please dont get me wrong, i dont want to see anyone suffer.....

But let me give you a personal example

My dad has had a severe progressive illness since i was a small child. He was told he would not live to see 45 (he's now 61). There have been times over the years where he has become very very unwell, he has believe that he will die (this time around). He refuses all medical treatment, he refuses to do anything to even ease pain and suffering, for example, oxygen. Every single time, my mum has taken the decision out of his hands, forced him to go to hospital where he has successfully been treated with minimal effort, returned home and gone on to have significant periods of time where he has been very well.

Most recently, he had a severe heart attack, he knew it was developing (he can normally tell a few days in advance that its guna happen). He told no one about his symptoms, and went ont o have a very serious heart attack. By the time the ambulance got him to hospital, he was dead, his heart had stopped beating. Now my mum, my siblings and i were travelling behind and were a few minutes later getting to the emergency department, by which time they had revived him. Only problem was that he had decided previously that he did not want to be resuccitated in such an event. BIG PROBLEM.... Anyway.... Dad goes on to make excellent recovery, its been 3 years since the last heart attack..... If he had been allowed to die all those years ago, we would not have had this time with him. He has lived and still lives and very happy life. 

So in those types of situations, i believe, is where the issue gets cloudy !

Sorry for the long post

After seeing my stepmom slowly waste away from cancer, I totally agree with physician assistated suicide.  There was so much suffering that could have been avoided.

#9  
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I have the greatest sympathy for people with chronic illness and pain.

I have very mixed feelings about this, because I don't want anyone to suffer. I think there should be cases where people should have some choice in the manner of their death. I have no religion and do not belive in the "sanctity of life, no matter what"

However, there are a great many people who are suffering unnecessarily, not because there is nothing medicine or society can do for them, but because that help is not forthcoming.

What if you have a long term illness, the treatment is costing a fortune, and your family is going bankrupt? Wouldn't you be more likely to want to pull the plug? What if you are suffering from depression, due to being bullied and harrassed by your carers? Abuse of elderly people is a huge, hidden problem. There are a lot of very vulnerable people out there

If you live in a country where there is a good level of medical care for rich and poor alike, and good care for the elderly, including help in getting around and socializing, with very strong safeguards against abuse, then, I'm all for it. In the country I'm living in, where we have the NHS but very spotty provision for elderly care, I want a *lot* of scrutiny before euthanasia is implemented.

And kayeanne, my heart goes out to you, and all your dad and the entire family have endured. I'm glad you've had this time with him!

 

I'm also a supporter of retroactive abortion. 

Original Post by kotov_syndrome:

I can't believe it's even an issue.

"We understand that you'd like to die peacefully and with dignity, Mr. Smith, but we have this dogmatic moral hang-up about allowing you to do that. You can handle the suffering for another few months, right?"

 

 ^This.

 

Heck no.  This is a slippery slope.  You can place all the "strict provisions" you want, but there will be abuse, thus murder.

I think if the patient is coherent enough and has the support of family, hospice, physicians, etc... it should be allowed.  Suffering is cruel and it's really hard to watch it happen to your loved one. 

it's easy to say that if someone is terminally ill, in pain, and wants to die, it should be legal to help them do so.  in reality, though, it's far more complicated than this.  for instance, what if the person is depressed, and what if their depression can be treated?  what if their wish to die is transient?  how long do they have to want to die before you're sure they're not going to change their mind?  do they really want to die, or are they just afraid that their treatment is going to bankrupt the family or eat up their children's inheritance?  are they under some duress that the medical team doesn't know about?  and maybe those reasons are good enough, but who's going to make that call?

also, how ill do they have to be?  i mean, we're all terminal.  and how much pain do they have to be in?  pain is very subjective, and what i call a 3 out of 10 might be a 9 for someone else.

when someone consents to comfort or palliative care, part of the bargain is that they want medications that will keep them comfortable, even if those medications might shorten their lives.  it's not quick and dramatic the way we conceive of physician assisted suicide, but it amounts to almost the same thing.

the other thing to consider is that the docs who are willing to do this work might be willing due to a personal bias.  a 30-year-old fit, healthy doctor might find it a little too easy to make the call for a sick 70-year-old patient, simply because they lack the ability to empathize with someone whose situation is so different (i've witnessed this, by the way, only the patient was only ~55).

Excellent piece on NPR a few weeks ago by an ER doc.

He was faced with a cancer patient crashing, and by a series of quick evaluations was able to save her, and recommend some med and supplement changes that would improve the quality of her life substantially, as she battled her disease.

Then he found that she had a DNR on file. They hadn't known it when they had worked so hard to save her. Unfortunately, it would have taken some medication adjustments to maintain her, and the family was forced to refuse them because of the DNR.

He had made the most complicated save of his career, he said, only to have to watch her die a few hours later, and knowing that she could have had several good months with her family instead.

What might she have said to them? What might they have resolved? What might they all have learned in those months?

His message: Try everything first. Don't be quick to give up. Keep fighting.

 

Very good points pg and a thought provoking story gator.  There are a lot of variables that I didn't think of.

My grandma wanted to die for a few years prior to her death because she felt useless and couldn't see or hear and was depressed and confined to the house but thank goodness she didn't because we still had laughs and good conversations and she was able to feel her great grandchildren around her.. but then when she was bed ridden, blind, deaf, covered in bed sores, in pain, humiliated that I had to change her diapers and clean her, etc... I sometimes wished I could just give her a speacial cocktail of meds to end it all (for her sake).. but I'm glad that didn't happen.  It was selfish of me but I wanted her there, in the next room. I wanted to see that big smile when I said 'Hi Grandma!".  I'm glad I was with her til the end but it was hard to watch.  She was so frail and old and it killed me to see her cry.

I agree with Pgeorgian.   

An act or omission intended to cause the death of a sick, handicapped, or dying person, even with good intentions--such as to eliminate suffering--, is still technically murder. 

Discontinuing extraordinary medical procedures, on the other hand, can be ethically legitimate.  In that situation, you're merely not providing overzealous treatment.  But even then, one should not decide to cease extraordinary measures because they will the patient's death; rather, you're merely accepting an inability to stop it.  This may seem like a pointless distinction to some, but intent matters for the sake of ethics and morals.

Also, in these situations, extraordinary measures does not include such things as palliative care, cleaning the person, or food and water, unless giving those things themselves causes more suffering (such as giving food to someone with advanced stomach cancer would cause more suffering). You shouldn't just leave the patient for dead.

I think the argument that 'it's complicated' isn't sufficient.  Abortion is complicated.  So is the death penalty.  Just because something is complicated doesn't make it right or wrong.  Kathy Gator, I think what you're talking about is an exception.  For every 100 patients who undergo cardiac arrest and are revived, how many do you think are on life support with absolutely no quality of life compared to the opposite?  There are some instances that people give up too early, but at the same time there are instances when people should have given up but did not.  I think TV has given the majority of people the idea that someone can be shocked back into life and wake up five minutes later as if nothing ever happened.

 

I wonder how legalizing physician assisted suicide would change the rate of suicide amongst people with terminal illness.  I think physician assisted suicide is still suicide, and if you think it would be wrong to commit suicide if you were terminally ill, you should object to physician assisted suicide as well.  Ultimately, if a person truly wishes to die, I think they will find a way, whether legal with a physician's aid, or not.

Original Post by gotborked: Also, in these situations, extraordinary measures does not include such things as palliative care, cleaning the person, or food and water, unless giving those things themselves causes more suffering (such as giving food to someone with advanced stomach cancer would cause more suffering). You shouldn't just leave the patient for dead.

Some people think living the patient for dead means not continuing every possible treatment.  Others think hospice and palliative care is appropriate.  "Leaving a patient for dead" is a matter of perspective, its not black or white.

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