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.
>>No, the rights do not derive therefrom. They merely remind the government that certain undefined rights do exist and are reserved.<<
Well, there is no instantiated “right to death.” Therefore it is a reserved right. “Shall not be disparaged” means something.
Rights are never “derived.” They are preserved.
Kind of hard to do when, like the guy in the article, you are totally paralyzed.
No one can stop you from killing yourself if that’s what you choose to do. There’s no way that a person can’t do almost anything that they really want to do. What defines us is not what we can do, but what we choose to do.
>> What I do have the right to tell you, being part of the body politic, is that you dont get other people to help you. Thats as far as I go.<<
Why does that strawman keep getting trotted out? No one has suggested that society or any other person should be compelled to assist in suicide? The closest is when I said a doctor could do so if he/she decides to do so in good conscience.
My sister just had a stroke last month. She is now in rehab and looking forward to returning home on July 17th. No institution for her — she will continue the rehab in her own home.
**All due respect, but my decision to live or die is MY decision**
What you are saying sounds selfish to me. Live in God’s will, not yours.
“Well, there is no instantiated ‘right to death.’ Therefore it is a reserved right.”
If it is a right. Which I think it is, but the amendments don’t help us on the matter. Except to say that if the right does exist it is reserved, but that’s not at issue.
“’Shall not be disparaged’ means something.”
It’s “shall not be construed to disparage.” The enumeration of certain rights shall not be construed to disparage the existence of other rights, that is. And I know.
“Rights are never ‘derived.’ They are preserved.”
Someone asked you where rights come from, and you answered the 9th and 10th amendments. That makes no sense, is all I was saying. Now you say they derive from nowhere. Do our rights come ex nihilo? Are they always there, and that’s just how it is? Used to be they said they come from God or nature. Then they were compromises of the law’s social evolution, or they exist because we’ve decided they’re useful. Nowadays with the popularity of the term “human rights” they come from our humanness, or whatever.
I can’t conceive of them being “preserved,” or existing at all, without coming from somewhere. But you can respond to the question of where our rights come from by saying “Nowhere; they just are,” instead of the inapt 9th and 10th amendments answer.
“All due respect, but my decision to live or die is MY decision.”
I’m with you. I’m elderly and my family and doctor know exactly how I feel about it. It’s all in writing.
I’m sorry, Salvation. I’m glad to hear that she’s in rehab and doing well enough to return home next month.
Did your family and doctor promise to help you die? In writing?
“Why does that strawman keep getting trotted out? No one has suggested that society or any other person should be compelled to assist in suicide?”
You can’t be unaware that that’s what the “right to die” movement is mostly about. It wouldn’t be such a hot issue if it was all about saving money by not sending cops to stop suicide attempts. Even though there are laws against suicide, most deniers of the right to kill yourself figure they can’t stop people if they’re mind’s set on it. So they don’t waste their time arguing about it, except perhaps as an intellectual exercise. Which is what we’re doing here, really, but the only reason I care to respond is that there is a real life group pushing for real life murder (so long as the murderee consents).
Maybe no one on this thread said there’s a right to assisted suicide, but I don’t care. If FR didn’t include arguing with people who aren’t here, about 5% of posts would remain.
“The closest is when I said a doctor could do so if he/she decides to do so in good conscience.”
I don’t care, again, whether or not you made the argument. I can argue against it if I want without regard to you. Imagine if, for instance, you said “I’m against handgun bans” and I said “I’m all for handgun ownership, but I don’t think private individuals should own tanks or surface to air missles.” Would it matter that you hadn’t defended the private ownership of tanks? No. I can make the point regardless.
“Why does that strawman keep getting trotted out?”
By the way, in case I wasn’t clear enough, just because something doesn’t apply to you, in particular, does not mean it is a strawman. It just doesn’t apply to you, is all. There is a movement out there to legalize euthanasia, and it goes under the banner of “right to die.” You must be aware of its existence.
Then why did you respond to this thread at all? None of these examples apply to your contentions at all, since they are unable to take their own lives.
It is you who have raised the "straw man".
rstrahan, you already have a right to die. What you don’t have is the right to have someone else kill you.
We don’t want it to be legal to have someone else kill us. The potential for abuse in these situations is insane.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Proteus_Steinmetz Here is the reason why every life is precious. Without this man our lives would not be the same,nowadays he would be aborted.
Killing one’s self is just as much murder as killing another. Nobody has a right to murder another. The government may make it *legal* in that there’s no penalty for it, but the murderer still has to answer to God for it, if not in this life, in the next.
The error in thinking has become that WE have the *right* to do with our lives because they’re *our* lives.
But they’re not *our* lives. They belong to God. That error in thinking comes from the rejection of God by mankind.
Sure it is. We recognize liberaltarianspeak when we see it.
Sure it is. We recognize liberaltarianspeak when we see it.
That's the EXACT kind of argument pro-choice libertarians use to support abortion and homosexual marriage.
I endorse your position in post 4. If I were the victim of locked-in syndrome I know for a fact that I would want death. Living like that is a living hell, in my opinion.