Death is the most personal of matters, but it’s also a political hot potato. Most of us don’t choose (or even expect) the way in which we die, but for the terminally ill, death is a looming certainty to be dealt with. And as humans live longer – largely thanks to the interventions of modern medicine – we’re more likely to die of serious illness, and to have our deaths medically postponed. There has long been a call for governments to grant us the right to choose our own death, by legalising euthanasia. But what are the circumstances in which this right should be granted? Who gets to decide – and when? And then there’s the sobering knowledge that this is one life decision that can’t be reversed. From medicos to philosophers, politicians to law enforcers, the terminally ill to their loved ones, this one issue we all have an opinion on – and a possible stake in. 'Euthanasia should be legalised' is the subject of the next IQ2 debate in Melbourne on 7 November.
Posted: 25 October 2012 - 3:50pm — SJECThink
How curious this is, a center for ethics conducting a totally invalid survey on an important subject such as euthanasia.
I would have to ask just how ethical it is if you use the results of this poll for anything, If you wish to gauge public opinion then the only ethical thing to do is to conduct a blind survey of randomly selected people across a wide spectrum of the public.
Not put a question on a website that has religious overtones and that is open to poll bombing by members of either persuasion.
On a personal note on euthanasia having seen people who have had excellent palliative care still die in agony and with a gross loss of their personal dignity I wholeheartedly support voluntary euthanasia.
If I have a terminal illness I would like the choice of dying at a time of my own choosing.
I would never seek to impose my beliefs on others, I think that is unethical,
I do not expect others to impose their beliefs on me, that is also unethical.
If I choose not to spend my last days groaning in constant pain or throwing up my own feces then I think I should have the right to choose a safe and legal medically assisted death.
I would question those who condemn others to suffer like this while they have no real first hand experience of just how awful some deaths can be, even with the best care and medicines available.
Posted: 1 November 2012 - 9:26pm — doug
Cancer destroyed my family, and did terrible things to them in their last days, what I saw was shocking.
My beautiful dogs had it too, and although I didn't want them to go, at least they had an easier way to go.
I promised myself that I wouldn't do anything to my dogs that I wouldn't do for myself.
As it turned out, I had cancer too, but got through it... only to live to see my sister get cancer and have to battle it, Hers was ovarian, and worse than mine, Bowel, She didn't make it.
Yes I would have euthanasia if I was in pain and suffering, and anyone else should have that option if they feel they should.
Damn the religious, I don't care a jot what they think.
I've seen the worst of things, I don't want others to be locked into a suffering that nobody can stop, its just not fair.
Posted: 1 November 2012 - 9:39pm — Wolfie Rankin
An Ethics Center running an online poll! That is a contradiction in terms. It is a foregone conclusion that this poll will be manipulated.
Here are some examples of how this is done.
Dear Friends, Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to get involved in the two online polls yesterday – both won hands down! When I first sent out the message about the advertiser poll the NO vote was at an abysmal 16%. Just a moment ago the No vote was at nearly 74%. Alex Schadenberg from Canada thanks you all for your support with his poll and, likewise, we need to thank our Canadian friends for their votes.
This really proves the power of networking. I encourage you all to ask all your friends to register on the HOPE website so we can keep building the opposition and the network. This is so important for the long haul.
"Esme Benet Posted at 5:19 PM Today
Should euthanasia be legalised in SA? This poll sucks. I've just managed to cast 10 votes.
Comment 92 of 103"
The BMJ invited its readers to respond to the editorial by voting for or against neutrality. Astonishingly, over 80 per cent of those who voted were against neutrality – the opposite of what had been found in the scientific poll. This surprising result prompted an analysis of voting patterns. In a two-day period, there was a huge surge in votes. During this time, there were many anomalies, the most striking being one individual, apparently located in Iceland, who voted against neutrality 168 times. One could not have clearer evidence of how the debate against assisted dying is being hijacked. This is a rerun of what happened in 2006 when Lord Joffe’s Bill for legalising assisted dying was being debated in the House of Lords. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition – an international body based in Canada – flooded two polls of British public opinion, one run by Bath University and one by the Evening Standard, with “No” votes from Canada and USA.
Posted: 1 November 2012 - 9:50pm — Ian Wood
So many opponents of euthanasia have never seen the real world. I have been a nurse for decades and worked in a hospice for 7 years. I have seen many hundreds of people die.
Palliative care works well MOST of the time - but not always.
Euthanasia must always remain an option - for when palliative care can not relieve distressing symptoms - and for when the person simply decides they have had enough.
In reality there are good doctors who will practice euthanasia in accordance with their patients wishes. Thank God for these humane doctors.
I have never forced my views on my patients - how dare the minority religious right force their inhumane "values" on others.
Everyone has the right to a religion - just as everyone has the right to be free of other people's religion intruding into their life (and death).
Euthanasia - if you don't believe in it, then don't use it.
Posted: 1 November 2012 - 9:52pm — palmboy
This is so true, It is usually nurses who make patients clean and as comfortable as possible for family friends and ministers to visit. Even most doctors do not see the patients during the early hours of the morning when pain and suffering is usually at it's worst.
many loved ones put on a brave face for those they love and do not want to worry them with the truth about how they are feeling.
This gets confided to nurses in the dark hours of the night when things are quiet and time is long and slow.
Unless someone has experienced days weeks months and years in palliative care they should not speak on this subject with any authority.
If they want the truth of the matter go and speak to those who nurse the suffering and the dying and be willing to sit quietly and listen to some very confronting stories.
Posted: 1 November 2012 - 10:11pm — doug
How dare anyone think they have the right to choose my end? How dare anyone think it is moral to subject me to un-imaginable pain? How dare anyone put my friends and family through the torture of seeing me suffer? How dare anyone force their immoral religion on me?
My death, my choice.
Posted: 2 November 2012 - 7:26am — Skeptimite
The entire case for euthanasia is based on the flawed assumption that euthanasia laws don’t affect society other than those people who want to die.
Having the option of euthanasia would make a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise even contemplate suicide feel pressured to put themselves forward as candidates to be killed. It would change the culture, and would make old vulnerable people feel pressured to end their suffering and burdens on others. People should be able to approach the end of their life without any such pressures, and these pressures are a necessary consequence of legalised euthanasia.
The issue here is not just individual rights, it’s also what’s best for society, and the indirect consequences of legalising euthanasia would strike at the heart of our respect for human life. Every citizen who cares about the well-being of society should stridently oppose attempts to legalise euthanasia on principle (not to mention the practical legal problems which are associated with it).
Posted: 2 November 2012 - 12:39pm — Tommy
Oregon USA has had legal assisted dying since 1997. Can you please provide me with EVIDENCE from Oregon that people are putting 'themselves forward as candidates to be killed'? Or that 'old vulnerable people feel pressured'?
To be accepted for an assisted death in Oregon the patient must have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than 6 months.
In Belgium, (legal since 2002) the patient must be 'in a medically futile condition of constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be alleviated, resulting from a serious and incurable disorder caused by illness or accident.'
Euthanasia is not a choice between life and death, but a choice between different ways of dying, to quote Jacques Pohier, former Dominican priest.
Contrary to your dire predictions, many people who request and are accepted for an assisted death ACTUALLY LIVE LONGER and have a BETTER END QUALITY-OF-LIFE than those who do not request assistance. It gives them peace of mind.
To quote Dr Robert Nathanson, Hawaii. "One of the paradoxes is that when a patient gets the medicine, they frequently will live longer than expected. The hospice nurse will tell the family that their mother who wasn't eating hardly at all or watching TV or reading or interacting is now eating like a horse and now doing those things. It's because the person no longer has that toxic anxiety. They know that they are empowered if things become intolerable. And the definition of that is whatever the patient says is intolerable."
Posted: 2 November 2012 - 6:43pm — Ian Wood
It is all very well for people to say they want to choose their own end - but they forget that those who are weak and vulnerable can be forced to end their life before they are ready too because they perceive they are a burden on others. European countries that have legalised euthenasia admit that they move people along before their according to the doctors whim sometimes. You might think that opposing euthenasia is something that people who don't know the real world do - but the fact is knowing the real world is akin to knowing the hearts of men and convenience and a lack of empathy for others drives this kind of thing once it is institutionalised. Look at the abortion industry - how many young kids are really helped by people of milk them of $500 and send them on their way to deal with their heartache. Please don't be naive about euthenasia. The elderly, weak and vulnerable will lose out big time if those who want to defend, care and protect them are pushed out of the way by this ridiculous legislative agenda.
Posted: 3 November 2012 - 6:52pm — bev
The Dutch experience is a prime example of this. The “guidelines” for euthanasia in Holland have often been flouted. Dr John Keown has studied the Dutch situation in great detail. For example, he found that in 1990, 52 per cent of the 10,558 cases of a doctor’s intent to hasten death were done with no explicit request from the patient.
The Remmelink Report, an official Dutch government survey of euthanasia practices, found that more than one thousand patients are involuntarily euthanised each year. As one Oxford philosopher put it, the Dutch experience clearly shows that “even with stringent safeguards, once voluntary euthanasia is legalised the descent down the slippery slope is inevitable”.
Keown, a Cambridge University medical ethicist, summarises the effectiveness of the Dutch euthanasia guidelines: “The Dutch claim that their guidelines for VAE [voluntary active euthanasia] are precise and strict and therefore capable of ensuring effective control fails to pass muster. The elasticity of the guidelines and the absence of a rigorous independent oversight of the doctor’s decision-making suggest the contrary.”
From Bill Muehlenberg, Culture Watch
Posted: 3 November 2012 - 7:48pm — bev
a study published in the British Medical Journal “found that nearly half of all euthanasia deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium were not reported. This study combined with the recent study that was published in the CMAJ in May 2010 that indicated that 32% of all euthanasia deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium were without request or consent suggests that the Belgium euthanasia model is out-of-control.”
Alex Shadenberg explains: “The authors of the study analysed the death certificates in the Flanders Region of Belgium. After determining that the death was related to euthanasia, the authors of the study sent a five page questionnaire to the treating physician. The physicians were guaranteed total anonymity and asked to respond to the questionnaire.
“The study determined that euthanasia deaths were reported 52.8% of the time, even though reporting is a requirement of the law. The most recent study in the Netherlands indicated that the euthanasia deaths were reported 80.2% of the time.
“The study indicates that the reason the euthanasia death was not reported was:
76.7% – the physician did not perceive their act as euthanasia.
17.9% – reporting was considered an administrative burden.
11.9% – the legal, due care requirements, had possibly not all been met.
8.7% – euthanasia is a private matter between the physician and patient.
2.3% – because of possible legal consequences.
“It is interesting that 97.7% of the reported cases were done by the physician, whereas 41.3% of the unreported cases were done by a nurse alone. This confirms the result of the other recent study that found that 45% of euthanasia deaths that were done by nurses were without request or consent.
Posted: 3 November 2012 - 7:58pm — bev
Bev Would you be so kind as to post the actual links to the research papers that supply the information you are quoting.
Sadly one of the common phenomenons of the Voluntary euthanasia discussion is the tendency for those against Voluntary Euthanasia to lie and to spread deliberate misinformation.
I am not suggesting that you are lying, I would like the opportunity ot check and verify the research you have quoted because when I did a quick search for the information you have quoted there is no satisfactory links to research to back up anything you quote and it is very possible that you are re quoting the lies told by others.
In this debate ALWAYS check your facts and do not believe that churches and religious groups tell the truth, as they often do not.
Posted: 6 November 2012 - 4:45pm — doug
Voluntary Euthanasia ?
I am still unsure about the validity of this poll
Your poll question is regarding "Euthanasia" But the article seems to imply you are discussing "Voluntary Euthanasia"
They are very very different subjects.
Perhaps as an ethics society you should do the ethical thing and conduct this poll with proper guidelines, questions and methodology
Posted: 6 November 2012 - 4:52pm — doug
Despite a number of people noting this poll is not the slightest bit scientific and represents nothing at all but a bit of "entertainment" (if you could even call it that), St James have not included a proper disclaimer to adequately explain that point to its website visitors.
Both the Fairfax and Murdoch press readily acknowledge that online polls of this nature do not represent any kind of reality (in the case of Fairfax, right next to the poll question), yet the St James Centre fails to do so.
Zero out of ten to the St James Ethics Centre for not behaving ethically on this occasion.
I trust the Centre will NOT be mentioning this poll in the debate tonight...or at all. Expect to be called to account if you do.
Neil Francis - CEO www.YourLastRight.com
Posted: 7 November 2012 - 2:37pm — Neil Francis
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