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Author Topic: You Don't Know Jack
rollainm
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For those who haven't heard of this, it's a new HBO film that takes a biographical look at Jack Kevorkian's radical efforts to legalize assisted suicide, beginning with his first patient and ending with the conviction that put him in prison for eight years.

Anyway, I just watched this last night, and I thought it was very well done - both informative and honest. Al Pacino did an excellent job as Kevorkian. I'd nearly forgotten Pacino still had some talent, but I think he portrayed Kevorkian's passion, intellect, and flaws about as well as anyone could have.

So has anyone else seen this? If so, did it change your perception of Kevorkian, his actions, or his motives? Did the film or the relevant events as you remember them have any effect on your own position on assisted suicide?

My own views on the subject have done a complete turnaround over the years. I started off being vehemently against suicide for any reason. I found it nearly impossible to sympathize and I assumed extreme selfishness as the only reason to do something so horrible, unforgivable and permanent. But as I've grown, experienced life and my own bouts of depression, become aware of just how much and in how many ways people can suffer, and worked to improve my understanding of morality and its implications on the topic at hand - I've come to realize that while I don't think I could ever willingly end my own life (which, I think, was the driving force behind my initial reaction), there is no good reason to deny a person's right to choose when faced with something as horrifying as, say, the inevitable effects of ALS. We readily put down our pets when their suffering becomes too great - and they don't even get a choice in the matter. Why is the same act so wrong for a willing human being that is capable of making that decision?

Anyway, I'd love to hear others' thoughts on both the film and the topic itself.

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sarcasticmuppet
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sndrake wrote an article about it here: http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/2010/04/hbo-is-making-sure-we-dont-know-jack.html
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AvidReader
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I watched too many old movies where the guy would try to get his wife put away so he and his mistress could run around spending the wife's money. If doctors would lock up a young healthy woman for nerves - usually in the movie by being conned or bribed - how many more would sign off on killing someone old and sick?

I don't know that I'm opposed ideologically, but I really doubt it would work well practically.

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Launchywiggin
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Personally, the right to die is an important one. By witholding it, we're no better than a torturer who keeps his subject alive so that he can continue inflicting pain.
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Javert
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I find it a bit strange that nearly everyone recognizes the mercy and sense behind assisted suicide...just not for humans. For pets. If an animal we care about is injured so badly or so sick that all they have left is suffering, most are completely behind 'putting them to sleep'. It's the humane thing to do, sometimes.

If we do it for animals we care about, the option should be open to do it for the people we care about. Just my opinion, any way.

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sndrake
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Sorry for the late entry into this. Heard my ears ringing.

First off, I want to address the "we kill pets who are dying and in pain" argument brought up by rollainm and Javert.

A colleague of mine in Alberta and myself had seen this used so often we got really sick of it. It's something people say all the time without ever questioning the truth of the statement.

Turns out - at best - it's a partial truth:

Let's put this pet theory to sleep

quote:
the statistics on the euthanasia rates of animal rates in shelters paint a grim picture. The reasons owners abandon them there aren't very pretty either:

* They are abandoned and unwanted. According to the American Humane Association, 56% of dogs and 71% of cats that enter animal shelters are euthanized.

* They have a personality or behaviour problem. (According to the SPCA, this is the single most common reason for euthanizing dogs accounting for as much as 60% of cases.)

* Their caregivers are no longer willing or no longer able to continue caring for them.

* They are considered to be unattractive.

* They have a treatable health condition but euthanasia is a cheaper alternative.

* They are getting old.

* They have physical traits considered to be undesirable for their breed.

* They have untreatable terminal diseases and are in pain.

In many cases, there is no single, clear reason.

Question friends gently and carefully and you'll likely find that the pet they put down wasn't necessarily "terminal" or "in unrelievable pain" either, even if that is what they have been telling people. We put animals down - not when *they* are ready, but when *we* are ready.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by sndrake:
Sorry for the late entry into this. Heard my ears ringing.

First off, I want to address the "we kill pets who are dying and in pain" argument brought up by rollainm and Javert.


Your argument would be valid if I was referring to animals kept in kennels.
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sndrake
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Javert, those statistics don't refer to animals kept in kennels. They refer to pets that were given to shelters after being household pets. Those are the reasons they get abandoned and the reasons they are ultimately killed.

If a human family member needs medical treatment that means taking out a second mortgage, we'll do it.

If our 15-year-old cat develops a condition that threatens the household budget, we put it to sleep.

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TomDavidson
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Do you believe there is never a time when the animal is ready?
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sndrake
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Here's another bit from the article the "Nitschke" referred to is a prominent pro-euthanasia activist in Australia:

quote:
For a short time in 1996, voluntary active euthanasia was legalized in Australia's Northern Territory. Max Bell, a taxi driver with stomach cancer, contacted Nitschke. Bell wanted to take advantage of the new law. Bell lived quite a distance from Nitschke and had to drive for 6 days to make the entire trip. Below, from an account by Nitschke, is a summary of Bell's preparation for his travel to the Northern Territory:

"So he put his house on the market, had his two dogs put down, organised himself to drive to Darwin and set out."

Given the current context - from Peter Baume and Gifford-Jones, -- Nitschke's throw-away line about Max Bell and his dogs should be examined -- closely.

How do we evaluate the "mercy killing," "euthanasia," "putting to sleep," etc. of Max Bell's dogs? Was Bell the victim of some ghastly cosmic coincidence so that not only he, but his two dogs were suffering from terminal illnesses?


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sndrake
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Tom - probably. That wasn't really my point. But I have different standards for humans than I do for animals.

I care for the cat we have now probably more than I have for any other pet I've ever owned. But I know that if he develops some condition that is too costly to treat, or he starts peeing all over the house or any number of scenarios not involving his pain or imminent death - he'll be put down for what will be seen as an acceptable reason by the vet.

I won't be telling people - or myself - he had a terminal and painful illness.

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TomDavidson
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Even if he has a terminal and painful illness?
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BlackBlade
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I thought this thread was going to be about,

You Don't Know Jack.

Of course any Jack player knows you never enter your name, and instead let the host insult you until he picks an awesome one for you.

edited for clarity.

[ April 27, 2010, 10:44 AM: Message edited by: BlackBlade ]

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sndrake
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quote:
Even if he has a terminal and painful illness?
Tom, I'll tell them that even though the odds are against that. But even then, I'll have to be honest and say that I could have done hospice care for the cat. There are people who do that for their pets - they tend to be a combination of animal rights persons and hospice professionals, and have money and time. But I would not be one of those persons.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
I thought this thread was going to be about,

You Don't Know Jack.

Yeah, when the ads for the movie first started, so did I. I was very disappointed.
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scholarette
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At some level, I agree with sndrake about the importance of valuing life, esp for those with disability. I also see the potential for abuse. My problem with it is that when answering what would I want, I think I want the option of taking my own life. If I was depressed, I would want my family to stick by me and help me find the right treatment. But if I had a terminal disease with 6 months of life that promised to be very, very painful, I can see picking a nice easy pill. I am not saying 100% nor would I be willing to state that preference in a legal document. But I like the idea of that option. I also would prefer if in a persistent vegetative state, instead of pulling the feeding tube and dying a week letter, they just drug me and I die a few hours later.
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sndrake
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The trouble with all of that, Scholarette, is there is no evidence that the media or the public particularly cares about any distinction between "disabled" and "terminal." If you check out the link blog entry I wrote that sarcasticmuppet shared in the second post, I provide some pretty strong documentation (Detroit Free Press, for example) to show that the majority of Kevorkian's body count consisted on NONterminally ill women with chronic conditions and disabilities. Many were abandoned by loved ones, suffered financial losses, and other negative *social* consequences of our society's way of dealing with disability in others. They are risk factors for suicide for *anyone*. But no one cared about those factors just about their health/disability status.

And even that is getting distorted. The HBO site promoting the movie (this is on one of my blog entries) describes Kevorkian's advocacy as applying to the "terminally ill."

A similar phenomenon has occurred with a group called the "Final Exit Network" - which facilitates the suicides of just about any old, ill or disabled person. They're upfront about it in their promotional material. And yet, countless press reports refer to them as "aiding" the "terminally ill."

I'm not paranoid. I just pay attention. And the ability of society to stand back and applaud the suicides of people with disabilities while portraying the suicides of "healthy" people as tragic turns my stomach.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by sndrake:
And the ability of society to stand back and applaud the suicides of people with disabilities while portraying the suicides of "healthy" people as tragic turns my stomach.

Amen.
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Strider
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I can only give my own personal anecdotal evidence here. But out of the three pets of mine that have died, all three were put to sleep by me. All three were different situations, and I won't go into detail, but I will say that when I made the decision to euthanize them, it was the ONLY decision left to make. I spent money on operations that I did not have if we thought that it would help the animal's quality of life. And each decision to euthanize came at the point where keeping the animal alive would be keeping it alive for the sake of keeping it alive. Where the choice to keep it alive would be imposing an unjustifiable amount of suffering on a life.

While I do think sndrake makes a completely valid point about how we view certain suicides as tragedies, and others as the only humane thing to, there will always be certain situations where not allowing an individual to have this choice will subject them to unjustifiable suffering.

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Bella Bee
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I can honestly say that the only animals I have ever had put down have been curled up, clawing at themselves and gasping for breath from terminal, visible cancer (rodents) or massive system wide blood infection (that in a small bird, where there was no way to apply antibiotics), or fitting constantly so that the dog was seriously brain-damaged, in pain, and unable to drink or feed.
All of these, after having spent a lot of money, time and sacrifice taking care of these animals throughout their illnesses.

There is a point, though, where it's very clear that it's a matter of hours or maybe a couple of days, and all there is left is pain - you just look at them in their desperation and think 'maybe a couple of hours less of this would be kindest - just make it stop'.
And I still feel guilty to this day that I couldn't do anything else for them.

And yet, I do feel like part of my guilt is that I couldn't actually ask them if this was what they wanted, or if they needed more time. Or if they wished that I had done it yesterday, when they had never known they could feel so awful.

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sndrake
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Strider and Bella Bee (and anyone else I might have missed),

I'll take you at your word. I never said those cases didn't happen, just that they aren't the near-universal acts of kindness we'd like to think they are.

I know of at least two cases of pets that have been put down that I know of personally. In one case, an elderly cat became incontinent and was peeing all over the house (female - not a "marking" issue). In another, an elderly dog had some arthritis and some (assumed) dementia, along with fading sight. He belonged to elderly people and was becoming increasingly difficult to take care of. Was he in constant or even unmanageable pain? No. Were there parts of life he actively enjoyed - definitely, especially where his appetite was concerned.

Both animals were put to sleep. I don't disagree with the reasons. In both cases, though, the owners talk about having done it for the animal's benefit - I guess that's what they need to tell people and themselves. Like I said, I don't disagree with the decision, but the inability of a lot of people to be honest about just whose benefit is involved in making those decisions bothers me a great deal - when pet euthanasia is used as something to build a case for human euthanasia.

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Strider
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sndrake, yes, I'm aware of stories like that as well. I'm often saddened and appalled by stories that are related to me about decisions that are made to end the life of a pet. And I'll even freely admit that people who hold similar philosophies to Bella Bee and I might be in the minority of pet owners.

I also fully understand that if assisted suicide were made legal and systematized, the system would be abused by people in situations where many of us would agree death is certainly not the only or even best option for the individual. Not the mention the harm done to that person's loved ones. But again, I do think there are cases where an individual, and even their family, have all come to the decision that assisted suicide is the best option for them, and I see no theoretical reason they should be barred from this.

Now, I'm not an expert, and I don't have a lot of input on how best to carry out something like this so that the system functions in the most positive and effective way possible. But I also don't think that the fact that I personally don't know the best way to go about it should mean that we as a society shouldn't pursue it.

I'll liken this issue to the issue of drug use. In general I think individuals should be free to do whatever they like to their bodies. And if someone wants to use, or even possibly abuse drugs, I don't think there should be legal prescriptions against it. But I say this with the understanding that this drug user, for example, may have children that they owe certain obligations to, and the drug use may very well interfere with those obligations. So is there a middle ground between all illegal and all legal? And who decides what that middle ground is and who qualifies? I don't have answers!

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rollainm
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I, too, have concerns over the practicality of legalizing assisted suicide, and I believe Kevorkian crossed some lines morally and certainly legally. But I don't think this fear is reason to abandon the issue outright. As a not-so-perfect analogy, this would be like appealing to those who oppose abolishing DADT simply because of the potential reaction of those who wouldn't be comfortable with the idea of serving alongside openly gay people. Perhaps more than being a right to choose to end your own life in the face of terminal illness or excruciating pain, it is wrong to deny them that choice solely on the potential for abuse. Should adoption be illegal, too? Or marriage, or dangerous sports, or welfare programs or Medicare or Social Security (remember, solely for abuse potential), or any other activity or program with the potential for abuse?

sndrake, your points are noted, but I wonder what your broader point is. Do you object to assisted suicide in all cases for the reasons you've stated? Or is it more to do with Kevorkian's specific intentions and motives? Would you mind elaborating on this?

As for euthanasia of pets:
Perhaps my and Javert's plea here is aimed at a much smaller audience than we'd initially thought. Still, I think you're missing the point a bit. True, many people abandon and euthanize animals for many reasons, and often trivial ones. But the percentage of pet owners who would do this is irrelevant. True, many people - as much as they love their pets - do not hold them to quite the same level as fellow human beings. This is understandable. But even among those who feel this way, there are many people, like Strider in his post above, who would only euthanize their pets when there is no other practical option. That, say, selling his house to pay for a potentially life-saving procedure for his pet is not a practical option is not the point. The point is that the decision to euthanize is not made lightly, and that doing so to eliminate the suffering of the animal is the sole motivating reason for doing so.

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sndrake
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quote:
I, too, have concerns over the practicality of legalizing assisted suicide, and I believe Kevorkian crossed some lines morally and certainly legally. But I don't think this fear is reason to abandon the issue outright. As a not-so-perfect analogy, this would be like appealing to those who oppose abolishing DADT simply because of the potential reaction of those who wouldn't be comfortable with the idea of serving alongside openly gay people. Perhaps more than being a right to choose to end your own life in the face of terminal illness or excruciating pain, it is wrong to deny them that choice solely on the potential for abuse. Should adoption be illegal, too? Or marriage, or dangerous sports, or welfare programs or Medicare or Social Security (remember, solely for abuse potential), or any other activity or program with the potential for abuse?
None of these analogies really work. There are several issues in play here. One is the establishment of suicide assistance (and no doubt active euthanasia given enough time and legal challenge) as a standard of care in medicine. That now becomes one of the accepted "treatment" options for a select group of individuals - called "patients" so we can totally medicalize their situation. Euthanasia proponents have been successful in avoiding the fact that this explicitly sets up a double standard - since they are required to try (within the limits of law) to prevent suicides. So, for this certain group of "patients," prevention is no longer required, and assistance is now on the table.

The justification for those changes is that one group of lives has lower value than the others - suicide prevention is based on the idea that all lives have value - suicidal people in general have come to a point where they believe that their own lives have none.

The Kevorkian story and the way it is playing out now just goes to show that pretty much no one - not the press, not the public, certainly not euthansia advocates - care about any distinction between "terminal," "disabled," or "old" for that matter.

On other threads, there have been discussions of how difficult it is to make changes in the complex arena of finance - and yet, the discourse around assisted suicide is devoid of any discussion of unintended consequences, ripple effects, etc.

Lots of people commit suicide and seem to manage it without help. If suicide is to be viewed as a "right" then maybe we should be taking prevention right off the table as a first step - lots of young, healthy nondisabled people lose their freedom due to being deemed a "danger to themselves."

If assistance is a matter of autonomy, then it should be given to anyone who wants it - not just the old, ill and disabled.

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sndrake
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rollainm, I don't understand your reasoning on pets at all. If you are deciding to put down a pet because: it has a sickness requiring expensive treatment, it has bladder problems that threatens the integrity of rugs and floors, you are personally distressed over changes in behavior such as periods of nonrecognition - the decision may not have been made lightly, but it was not done as a kindness to the *pet* - the death was dictated by the needs of the owner.

And if we're going to make animal euthanasia arguments to support the idea of extending it to humans, let's be honest and accurate about the total realm of pet euthanasia - not just the comfortable ones that make us feel good.

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rollainm
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quote:
Originally posted by sndrake:
rollainm, I don't understand your reasoning on pets at all. If you are deciding to put down a pet because: it has a sickness requiring expensive treatment, it has bladder problems that threatens the integrity of rugs and floors, you are personally distressed over changes in behavior such as periods of nonrecognition - the decision may not have been made lightly, but it was not done as a kindness to the *pet* - the death was dictated by the needs of the owner.

That's a strawman. It's a misrepresentation of my and others' reason for justified euthanasia. I specifically stated that my sole motivation for euthanasia is to end the pet's suffering. You're the one talking about floors and rugs and other monetary costs to the owner.


quote:
Originally posted by sndrake:
And if we're going to make animal euthanasia arguments to support the idea of extending it to humans, let's be honest and accurate about the total realm of pet euthanasia - not just the comfortable ones that make us feel good.

Another strawman, not to mention unnecessarily pejorative. The "total realm" includes reasons that are irrelevant to the argument: "If it is right to euthanize our pets to eliminate their suffering, why is it so wrong to do so when it comes to willing human beings?"

ETA: To clarify, I'm not saying this is a deductively sound argument for assisted suicide. It's more of a prompt for further discussion on exactly what the distinction might be between humans and pets that makes euthanasia wrong for the former but acceptable for the latter, especially when the former is free to choose for themselves.

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sndrake
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No - you're avoiding the reality here. We get to kill our pets because the law says we can - for just about any reason. We just have to do it in a humane fashion.

The reason we can kill our pets when they're in pain is because no one - not the law, anyway - cares why we kill them.

It's the singling out of the small subset of pet euthanasia that's a strawman.

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rollainm
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quote:
Originally posted by sndrake:
No - you're avoiding the reality here. We get to kill our pets because the law says we can - for just about any reason. We just have to do it in a humane fashion.

The reason we can kill our pets when they're in pain is because no one - not the law, anyway - cares why we kill them.

It's the singling out of the small subset of pet euthanasia that's a strawman.

This is an explanation of why there are no legal consequences for euthanizing our pets for a variety of reasons, including trivial ones. Again, it has nothing to do with my argument or the subset (tiny though it may be) of people to whom it applies.
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sndrake
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My blog post yesterday discussed a very recent case in Texas in which the dead guy didn't get to choose.

quote:
Last Friday, Katherine "Kim" Yarbrough received ten years of probation in a plea bargain. Yarbrough had admitted to killing her husband, Lloyd Yarbrough. Nevertheless, she was allowed to plead to "injury to a disabled individual."
Her husband, as a result of encephalitis, had severe disabilities - lost movement and the ability to talk. Friends quoted in the article describe him as aware and reactive, though. Kim Yarbrough crushed up meds in his feeding tube that killed him. She made an unsuccessful attempt on herself.

From the Austin-American Statesman:

quote:
While in the hospital, Yarbrough was interviewed by police. According to an arrest affidavit, she told an officer that she killed her husband "because she was tired of taking care of him." When an officer asked her if Lloyd Yarbrough wanted to die, she said "no," the affidavit said.
She admitted she wanted to end her own suffering and that her husband didn't want to die. I am still struggling to understand this statement from the prosecutor:

quote:
Meredith noted that for years when selecting jurors in murder cases, prosecutors had used an example similar to Yarbrough's when one spouse kills another to end that spouse's suffering as a type of murder case that might warrant a probation sentence.
I am less concerned with the sentence itself - although I'm under the impression that stress, depression and diminished capacity are not generally successful defenses in Texas murder cases - than I am with the explanation. The explanation contradicts the facts of the case.
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sndrake
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quote:
This is an explanation of why there are no legal consequences for euthanizing our pets for a variety of reasons, including trivial ones. Again, it has nothing to do with my argument or the subset (tiny though it may be) of people to whom it applies.
It has everything to do with it. The usual statement and variations - "if we can do this for animals, why can't we with humans?" - has to first and foremost start with the acknowledgment that we can - and do - kill them for just about any reason.
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rollainm
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quote:
Originally posted by sndrake:
quote:
This is an explanation of why there are no legal consequences for euthanizing our pets for a variety of reasons, including trivial ones. Again, it has nothing to do with my argument or the subset (tiny though it may be) of people to whom it applies.
It has everything to do with it. The usual statement and variations - "if we can do this for animals, why can't we with humans?" - has to first and foremost start with the acknowledgment that we can - and do - kill them for just about any reason.
Well, no, it doesn't. Maybe someone else would like to weigh in here, but I don't think I can say it any more clearly than I already have at this point, at least at the moment, so I suggest we drop this particular debate for now.
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scholarette
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sndrake- for the sake of argument, assume that the person choosing to kill himself/ herself is a terminally ill patient, who still has family and financial support, but is making the decision because it just isn't worth it anymore. Should they have the right to go to their doctor and get a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs? In other words, ideal situation, no coercion, not disabled but going to die within 6 months anyway.

One of the stories I read on the issue did talk to a lot of patients who got their prescriptions and 4 months later still hadn't used them. One patient said, on days were the pain was just so awful, he would go grab that bottle and look at it and then decide, no not today. Knowing he had the choice though made the pain more manageable because he knew he could end it if he needed to.

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Glenn Arnold
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This thread has been going through my mind for the last month or so, and in the last week in particular, as our dog Merle got closer and closer to the end.

She had mitral valve regurgitation, which had been diagnosed at least as early as 2007, but the vet called it "congestive heart failure." She was between 14 and 15 years old, and, with the exception of the heart condition, she was pretty healthy for a dog of that age. We also have another dog, Whiskers, that is 19 years old, who no longer has the use of her rear legs.

If there is one thing about animal euthanasia that bothers me, it is that the animal can neither ask for, or argue against the decision which must be made by a human. If a human being asked me to either help end their life, or help prolong it, the decision is quite easy. You do what they want you to do, and there is a lot less anxiety.

With dogs you have to read their eyes, and behavior, and do your best to put yourself in their place. And ultimately, that is where my decision came from. I know that if I was in her state I would have wanted to end it.

Much of the argument here, about whether you'd apply a different standard of care to humans, has to do with medical practices that haven't been available for most of human history. Since Merle died, I have been looking up information online about what we might have done differently. There are procedures for mitral valve repair, but most online discussion of this condition dismiss it as being too expensive, and too risky (in the study in the link only 12 of 18 dogs survived the procedure).

Of course, the procedure is available for humans, and if Merle had been human, the doctor would have sent her to a cardiologist, and insurance would have paid for the procedure. But no one told us that it was possible to have the procedure done for Merle, and we couldn't have afforded it even if it were available. There's that "different standard for humans and animals".

But I'm not sure that even if it were available, and I could afford it, that I would have chosen to do it. After all, using the basic "7 dog years" calculation, Merle was about 98 years old. Even humans of this age are rarely given such risky treatments in an effort to prolong their life. So perhaps the different standard for humans and animals is based in part on the different lifespans.

I don't know. I just miss Merle a lot and I'm really struggling to come to terms with the responsibility for this decision. Especially since the same decision is looming for Whiskers in the not too distant future.

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Strider
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I've had to put four ferrets over the course of the last 5 years due to various ailments (lymphoma, insulinoma, adrenal disease, etc..). These weren't decisions made to avoid surgery or care, they were decisions made *after* surgeries and many years of care when it became obvious that the quality of life they had was not worth continuing (Kidney's had failed, lymphoma spread to the point where no food could be ingested, etc...). Situations where I was bringing them in once a month for some emergency or another.

I share your anxiety and second guessing and struggles. Pets don't have the ability to communicate with us, and we have to make very difficult decisions with incomplete information. Those times towards the end, when they are in a gray area of whether more care and more money will help them or not are the toughest. I still stay up at night sometimes thinking about whether we did it too early...or too late. Was the end of their life filled with pain and suffering I could have helped alleviate, or could they have gone on for more time where their happiness outweighed their suffering? These questions, whether in regards to humans or pets are questions that evolution and biology never prepared us for, that may not have clear cut ethical answers.

On a side note, my most recent experience with euthanasia was the first out of all them that I felt we did it at the "right" time. It's the first I haven't dwelled on.

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Teshi
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quote:
I'm not paranoid. I just pay attention. And the ability of society to stand back and applaud the suicides of people with disabilities while portraying the suicides of "healthy" people as tragic turns my stomach.
I wrote a story about this problem.

I don't think that allowing assisted suicide necessarily means we applaud it. I don't think most people are thrilled when people ask to die because they are in so much pain or so unhappy with their life that they feel like they can't go on.

I think assisted suicide is a tragedy --how can it not be? it's death from pain-- but I don't think that that means it should be illegal/made impossible to kill yourself if you want to die.

I don't think "assisted suicide" includes anything where the person who dies doesn't request it with the full knowledge of what it means. The woman who killed her husband unsolicited should be convicted of murder (and probably of mental illness).

Not that we shouldn't be sympathetic to a person who is put in a situation like Kim Yarbrough's.

As I am a meat-eater, I don't actually have that much of a problem with people having the right to humanely euthanize their pets. Considering that pets have a much better life and death than the animals I consume (mostly unnecessarily), how can I morally justify making a distinction betweeen cats and dogs and sheep and cows-- as if cats and dogs have somehow more of a right to die of old age than other animals. How do we chose? By post-death use (e.g. we kill most animals for a purpose)? By cuteness?

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Samprimary
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The whole animal thing entirely aside, I have to admit I think of the whole assisted suicide thing as an inevitability. Something that will continue to become more and more incorporated into our medical decisions and rights, and become ubiquitous to end-of-life decisions.

We already have given people tools right up to the razor's edge of "medically assisted suicide" which are, in all practical ways, giving families, patients, and doctors the right to purposefully end lives that were otherwise being sustained medically.

The rest of the transition, in a world where finite medical resources are more and more frequently being spent at egregious costs to provide minimal extension of life for the very old, and where many times terminal conditions leave people lingering painfully in hospital beds, is practically assured. I, for one, will desire the option.

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