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Why I'm uneasy about 'assisted suicide' campaigners
UK Daily Mail ^ | 6/13/08 | Tom Utley

Posted on 06/14/2008 12:06:50 PM PDT by wagglebee

During the last decade of her life, my ancient grandmother always set the mood for our family Christmases by announcing as soon as she arrived for lunch that she wanted to die.

While the rest of us thanked each other extravagantly for the socks, ties and scarves we would never wear, she would bang on and on about how much she hoped this Christmas would be her last on Earth.

I'll never forget the one that really did turn out to be her last. This was her 91st Christmas, and my mother had asked along one of the family's oldest friends, a Roman Catholic priest, to try to cheer the old girl up. It wasn't working.

Father Michael Hollings had hardly taken his coat off before my grandmother collared him and embarked on her annual speech about how miserable she was, asking him why God wouldn't just let her die.

At first, the priest tried to humour her, saying: 'He will, dear. He's just not ready for you yet.'

But when we sat down to eat, he seemed to lose patience with her moaning and said: 'All right, we'll all say a little prayer for your death.'

The awful thing was he really meant it. He stood up at the table - and the rest of us meekly followed suit - and asked God in His mercy to take my grandmother from us before next Christmas.

Now, I don't know if you've ever stood up at Christmas lunch, in the presence of a grandmother for whom you've always had a soft spot, praying to the Almighty for her death.

But until you have, believe me, you won't fully understand the meaning of the word embarrassment.

I've often asked myself since what the Catholic Church thinks about the rights and wrongs of praying for people's deaths - although Father Hollings, a former Catholic chaplain at Oxford University, was an eminent theologian and I imagined at the time that he knew what he was doing.

All I can say is that it felt very wrong (not to mention distinctly unChristmassy). But if the priest was simply trying to shut my grandmother up, his prayer certainly did the trick.

While he was saying it, she gave me a frightened glance that convinced me she didn't really want to die at all (she was a believer in the power of priests and prayer).

Indeed, I'm pretty sure that this was Father Hollings's true purpose - not to hasten her death, but to teach her that she shouldn't go around saying that she wanted to die unless she was absolutely sure she meant it.

I'd like to be able to report that from that Christmas until her death nine months later, my grandmother never again claimed that she was longing for the end.

But that would be quite untrue. She suffered from Alzheimer's and had days of terrible lows, although these were interspersed to the end with up-days when she would laugh so much - chiefly about the awfulness of the fellow residents of her nursing home - that you'd think she was the most cheerful old lady on the planet.

I thought of my grandmother this week when I read about Debbie Purdy, the woman with multiple sclerosis who is seeking a clarification of the law against assisted suicide.

On the face of it, her request seems completely reasonable. If a law exists, then what could be clearer than our right to know precisely what it means, so that we can avoid breaking it?

But the case fills me with the same sort of unease that I felt all those years ago at our Christmas lunch table.

Miss Purdy, 45 and confined to a wheelchair, was found 13 years ago to be suffering from Primary Progressive MS, which is incurable and worsens unpredictably.

She believes a time will come (though it hasn't yet, for she says she's 'extremely happy' in her life) when she will want to kill herself - and her plan is to travel to the controversial Swiss suicide clinic run by Dignitas, of which she is a member.

Her fear is that by the time she decides she is ready to die, she will be too weak to make the arrangements herself and that she will have to rely on her husband to help her.

What she wants to know, therefore, is precisely how much help he is allowed to give her before he lays himself open to a charge under the 1961 Suicide Act, which makes it an offence punishable by 14 years in prison to aid, abet, counsel or procure the suicide of another.

She is not asking whether her husband, Omar Puente, is allowed to help her kill herself in Britain, because the law is completely clear on that point: he is not.

All she says she wants is a clarification of the narrow point of how much help he can give her to kill herself in a foreign jurisdiction such as Switzerland, before he falls foul of British law.

Does the law permit him, for example, to make the telephone call booking her into the clinic or to push her wheelchair to the plane?

Innocent enough questions that deserve answers, you may think - and the High Court accepted on Wednesday that she may have a case for requiring the Director of Public Prosecutions to publish clear guidelines on the circumstances in which he would press charges.

A full hearing is now expected in October. So why do I have an ugly suspicion that there are deeper and more sinister motives behind this case than meet the eye?

One reason is Miss Purdy's threat that unless she's given an assurance that her husband will escape prosecution, she will go to Switzerland by herself to end her life, while she's still able and 'before I'm ready'.

Now, I have great sympathy for anyone suffering MS - and I know that it's all very well me sitting here, in full health, passing judgment on a woman who is going through something I can barely imagine.

But when Miss Purdy makes such a lurid threat - tantamount to telling the judges 'you'll have my blood on your hands if you don't find in my favour' - I wonder if she's being as dispassionately reasonable as she would like to appear.

She knows full well how unlikely it is that her husband would be prosecuted for helping her get to Switzerland.

So far, 92 Britons are reported to have died at the Dignitas clinic, and not a single one of the relations who helped them was prosecuted.

So would Miss Purdy really go to an early grave, just for want of 'clarification' of something she already knows - that the British authorities interpret the law with great compassion?

Or does she just want to get that compassion written into the law, as one more step along the perilous road to making assisted suicide legal in Britain?

What should really put us on our guard is the involvement of the Dignity in Dying pressure group, which supported Miss Purdy in court.

Until two years ago, this organisation went under the name of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society - a title that at least had the merit of making it clear its members are more interested in killing than dying.

They make no bones about their aim of making it legal in Britain to kill people who say they want to die.

In the Netherlands, MPs voted in 2000 to legalise euthanasia, assuring the world: 'This is only for people who are in great pain and have no prospect of recovery.'

Within three years, more than one per cent of all deaths in Holland were being deliberately inflicted by doctors.

We saw the same phenomenon here with abortion. When it was legalised in 1967, we were assured it would be carried out only if continuing the pregnancy would mean risk to the life or mental health of the mother, risk to the physical or mental health of existing children or 'substantial' risk of the child being born 'seriously handicapped'.

Today, abortion is widely seen simply as an alternative to contraception, and 500 foetuses are killed every day. Do we really want to go down that road with euthanasia?

If so, how long will it be before doctors start bumping off old women like my grandmother, who say they want to die but don't really mean it?

Victory for Miss Purdy would take us one more step in that direction. Yes, by all means let the authorities go on showing compassion for those driven to desperation by desperate circumstances.

But don't force the DPP to put that policy on paper. It's not for him to repeal the commandment: 'Thou shalt not kill.'


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: assistedsuicide; euthanasia; moralabsolutes; prolife
Until two years ago, this organisation went under the name of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society - a title that at least had the merit of making it clear its members are more interested in killing than dying.

The culture of death does what ALL leftists do, they change their name whenever it's expedient for their agenda.

Today, abortion is widely seen simply as an alternative to contraception, and 500 foetuses are killed every day. Do we really want to go down that road with euthanasia?

The culture of death DOES.

1 posted on 06/14/2008 12:06:51 PM PDT by wagglebee
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To: cgk; Coleus; cpforlife.org; narses; 8mmMauser

Pro-Life Ping


2 posted on 06/14/2008 12:07:29 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: 230FMJ; 50mm; 69ConvertibleFirebird; Aleighanne; Alexander Rubin; An American In Dairyland; ...
Moral Absolutes Ping!

Freepmail wagglebee to subscribe or unsubscribe from the moral absolutes ping list.

FreeRepublic moral absolutes keyword search
[ Add keyword moral absolutes to flag FR articles to this ping list ]


3 posted on 06/14/2008 12:08:07 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: BykrBayb; floriduh voter; Sun; amdgmary; Lesforlife; Dante3

Ping


4 posted on 06/14/2008 12:09:01 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

You have uncovered the strategy for balancing future government health care budgets.


5 posted on 06/14/2008 12:13:50 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

Unfortunately, you are probably right.


6 posted on 06/14/2008 12:28:57 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

I agree...The government wants to “pull the plug” as its’ end game.


7 posted on 06/14/2008 12:40:20 PM PDT by Sacajaweau (I'm planting corn...Have to feed my car...)
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To: wagglebee

In the 1941 film ‘’I Accuse,’’ [Ich klage an] by Wolfgang Liebeneiner, a physician kills his young wife, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, while a fellow doctor plays funereal music in the next room. This film contributed substantially to the popular acceptance of ‘’mercy killings,’’ leading to the widespread murders by their doctors of children with medical conditions.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033750/


8 posted on 06/14/2008 12:51:32 PM PDT by donna ("Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.")
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA; wagglebee
Oh, it's already happening.

It's what almost happened to Barbara Wagner:

(From the Oregon Register newspaper. Do click here to see Barbara's joyous face!)

"After a rough couple of weeks, Barbara Wagner finally got some good news Monday.

"Last month, she found out that her lung cancer, which had been in remission for about two years, had come back. After her oncologist prescribed a cancer drug that could slow the cancer growth and extend her life, Wagner was notified that the Oregon Health Plan wouldn’t cover the treatment, but that it would cover palliative, or comfort, care, including, if she chose, doctor-assisted suicide.

"Then, on Monday morning, a representative of the pharmaceutical company called Wagner and told her it would provide the medicine for free. Wagner said she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so she did both.

“I am just so thrilled,” she said. “I am so relieved and so happy.”

"Wagner had to rely on the charity of a drug company because the Oregon Health Plan wouldn’t cover her treatment.

"“I think it’s messed up,” Wagner said, bursting into tears.

"She was particularly upset because the letter of denial said that doctor-assisted suicide would be covered."


It's not like we haven't been predicting this for 40 years.

Assisted Suicide, Public reaction #1: "It would be good for some people. What's the harm?" Public reaction #2: "This is terrible. How were we to know?"

9 posted on 06/14/2008 12:53:32 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler."--- Einstein)
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To: donna
If I remember correctly, "I Accuse" was basically Nazi propaganda to support their lesser known agenda of killing the sick and disabled.

This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the people 60,000 Reichmarks during his lifetime. People, that is your money. Read ‘New People’.

10 posted on 06/14/2008 1:00:20 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee
The other side of this is that we may be keeping alive people who would have died in earlier days.

In my mother case, she died of Alzheimer's disease. We kept her at home and carefully monitored her food/fluid intake. I think a lot of nursing home patients die of starvation/dehydration.

The downside is what kind of life were we extending (for her). She used to have migraines (was she still), toothaches (dental care is a problem, with some patients, they pull all their teeth).

Were we prolonging a life in hell?

11 posted on 06/14/2008 1:06:48 PM PDT by Doe Eyes
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To: Doe Eyes
Were we prolonging a life in hell?

You were doing God a service, not for your mother, but for yourself, and God.

12 posted on 06/14/2008 1:19:00 PM PDT by itsahoot (We will have world government. The only question is whether by conquest or consent.)
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To: Doe Eyes

“Were we prolonging a life in hell?”

In some senses of the word, possibly.

Alz has a progression that is a known quantity. Keeping them as comfortable as possible is a good thing. Trying to prolong the end stage with agressive treatment doesn’t do much for the patient other than stringing out the inevitable. There ‘s comes a time as a patient is dying, that they don’t want to eat, don’t want to drink, can’t communicate their needs, the organs begin to shut down, etc.

Notice I said nothing about denying care. Sometimes you have to realize that the end is coming and let nature take it’s course.


13 posted on 06/14/2008 1:30:16 PM PDT by swmobuffalo ("We didn't seek the approval of Code Pink and MoveOn.org before deciding what to do")
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To: Doe Eyes
The other side of this is that we may be keeping alive people who would have died in earlier days.

This is a popular argument with the culture of death (and NO, I am not accusing you of being pro-death); however it is devoid of any moral or logical validity.

For centuries medicine has been advancing and giving us new ways to prolong life.

Nearly all commonplace surgeries were potentially deadly just over a hundred years ago, antibiotics didn't exist, blood transfusions were just as likely to kill as help, and x-rays had just been invented. Today, we consider these procedures as normal, everyday medicine; in another hundred years people will think the same thing about today's breakthroughs and things like Alzheimer's and cancer will probably be distant memories.

People often talk about the "cost factors" in keeping people alive, but what they fail to recognize is that ALL new technologies are expense, but the costs ALWAYS drop.

14 posted on 06/14/2008 1:39:43 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Doe Eyes

We just went through the exact same situation. We provided food, water and palliative care. It was very difficult, but at least we are not asking the question: Did we kill him? That question would be much harder to deal with IMHO.


15 posted on 06/14/2008 1:41:02 PM PDT by socialismisinsidious ( The socialist income tax system turns US citizens into beggars or quitters!)
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To: socialismisinsidious
Did we kill him? That question would be much harder to deal with IMHO.

I still have a harder time thinking that we made her deal with an extended life of pain.

16 posted on 06/14/2008 1:50:41 PM PDT by Doe Eyes
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To: donna; cgk
...a physician kills his young wife, who suffered from multiple sclerosis...

Hey now.


17 posted on 06/14/2008 1:55:27 PM PDT by rdb3 (Upward, onward, beyond...)
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To: Doe Eyes
We did give medications for pain and that is comforting. I'm of the belief that food and water are not extraordinary and that the slope is too slippery for one to decide that another is “ready” to die. sigh. One thing is for sure: there are no easy answers. I hope you work through everything and come to terms with answers/grief.
18 posted on 06/14/2008 1:55:58 PM PDT by socialismisinsidious ( The socialist income tax system turns US citizens into beggars or quitters!)
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To: socialismisinsidious
Thank you for your kind response. What you said,

"One thing is for sure: there are no easy answers."

Everyone needs to understand this, because, more than likely it won't be a post on a website, but a person you love that you really have to deal with.

19 posted on 06/14/2008 2:06:35 PM PDT by Doe Eyes
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To: wagglebee

These people always leave me wondering if they give a thought to where they’re going (for a very, VERY long “time”.


20 posted on 06/14/2008 2:11:31 PM PDT by RoadTest ( Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. But he spake of the temple of his body.)
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To: Doe Eyes

Was there no pain control available?


21 posted on 06/14/2008 2:30:55 PM PDT by Marie2 (It's time for a ban on handgun bans)
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To: RoadTest

(EASY FOR ME TO SAY, I KNOW) but - is there a purpose to some suffering or uncomfortableness in this world?

What if we “put to sleep” any elderly person with an incurable disease, in order to spare their suffering?

They are about the meet their Maker. Is there any sanctifying or warning or priority-setting purpose in the hardships of the end stages of death?

Myself I am all for pain control. But I won’t actively kill anyone.


22 posted on 06/14/2008 2:33:31 PM PDT by Marie2 (It's time for a ban on handgun bans)
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To: Doe Eyes

I don’t see what you did to artificially extend her life or her suffering. What you’ve described is loving palliative care. If you were caring for her yourselves at home, I doubt you were giving her any aggressive life prolonging treatments.

It sounds to me like you loved her and took good care of her. We should all be so fortunate.

Þ


23 posted on 06/14/2008 2:57:35 PM PDT by BykrBayb (www.lifeforlauren.org Þ)
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To: wagglebee
Pinged from Terri Dailies

8mm


24 posted on 06/15/2008 3:53:15 AM PDT by 8mmMauser (Jezu ufam tobie...Jesus I trust in Thee)
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