Regarding Jack Kevorkian, and the pending HBO movie.
If I revise my present dnr to state that sometimes withdrawal of nutrition and hydration is fine by me…(which I doubt I’ll do)…I’ll hope that good palliative care and hospice or other will be in attendance. Three guys will have to say “Look no thinking process at all….”
I applaud some of his facebook fans for saying they have a right to decide what to do with their own bodies.
I would take it further.
Everyone has a right to decide on this issue. They also have a right not to be coerced into one decision or another by medical persons, predatory or misguided ‘friends’ or family members, or by a credentialed physician with homemade tools that he has to use in a van.
Pacino as Kevorkian says he’s doing this “to make a point.*
I believe it was either Steven Drake or Diane Coleman of NDY that wondered ‘aloud’ in print, why the suicidal wishes of able people are seen as clearly irrational, causing crisis lines, law enforcement, shrinks etc to leap into action…
(Get them off the ledge! Don’t let them jump? They’ve overdosed! Stomach pump! ETC)
But when a person with an impairment/illness or disability expresses these things…it’s seen as rational.
The pressure, subtle and slow, perhaps motivated by a genuine desire to ease suffering…begins in earnest.
I hope, even for those on the opposite side, those who see Kevorkian as some great hero, would take care to ask the person who had asked for death due to extreme physical suffering…this simple question:
“If your physical pain could be managed for a little while or a longer time…If you woke up with the same illness but a great decrease in the pain caused by that condition…would you decline days weeks months more , and choose to die now?”
Are you saying that you want to die, literally, or are you unconsciously saying that, when what you are really crying out for is relief from pain?
Those are the corollary questions that anyone involved in end of life decisions *have* to ask the patient or patient’s rep before I’d feel safe. Before I’d be quite clear that this is the true wish of any individual patient.
and, either way the patient chooses…their wishes should be respected by the doctors and nurses and/or hospice folk charged with their care.
Have the discussion. So it’s your wish that is respected…not a beneficiary, not a relation, not a friend, not someone offering their aid…to make a point.
And, last but not least. read this
At this link, and discussed on CNN earlier this morning…
Even though several medical experts classified questionable deaths in a hospital at the center of Katrina two years ago “homicides…” the perpetrators will not be indicted let alone convicted and the case is closed.
After the dismissal, the doctor involved admitted giving those doses, but that she saw the patient’s deaths’ resulting from those dosages as ‘helping’ them…
I’d like to ask the district attorney that closed this case:
Are you indicating that Katrina created a new category of permissible killing….Medical death dealing by morphine and versed *acceptable* under the law because of an ill prepared government?
Are you indicating that certain lives…the “difficult to move,” are expendable in certain situations?
Those of us who are *difficult to move* would like to know.
And, in California…an assisted suicide law modeled closely on Oregon’s present law is narrowly defeated…
Point one: Sometimes we cost a lot to keep alive.
Point two: We have to *be* alive to enjoy our individual rights and liberties.
Point three: No corporation or care site should be given any more traction or *positive* feedback in relation to the idea that inimical pressure to consent to euthanasia, or actually taking that step is actually a positive cog in the machine of health care cost containment.
I understand that supporters of the law in California would never *mean* for it to be used in that way…that the law on paper has *safeguards* against any such thing.
But media and legislators set up this law and are embracing the *theory* in it, the *idea* of how it would be implemented.
A significant quote from the article:
Disability rights advocates “have a lot of credibility on this,” said Marilyn Golden, a policy analyst for the Berkeley-based Disability Rights Education Defense Fund who lobbied hard against AB 374. “We are on the front lines of this issue as it actually plays out in the medical system.”
Disabled and chronically ill and elderly people are where that rubber hits the road. We are always at that space where such laws become practice, and fact and day to day decision making.
Life cannot be *made* cost effective for many of us…and we fear that “market forces” will drive us out of existence.
and “right to die” issues….over at Feministe, Bint of My Private Casbah gives a glimpse of her life now…and opens up the discussion
This isn’t the week that I should be blogfightin’ with the Right to Die Crowd… believe me …but this bit from the high profile Huffington Post was troubling, both for it’s position, and because the Huff thought this was something that needed space on their site.
Mr. Russel Shaw puts on a genial face, he does…and tells PWD’s who fear the Right to Die movement that Right to Die advocates are their friends…
Shaw first admits that:
Admittedly, I don’t have the immediate personal sensitivity to this issue that some disabled persons might have.
Yes, this is certainly not an argument on whether a temporarily able-bodied man wonders if he and those he loves will suffer pain at the end of life.
Then, Mr Shaw continues:
Could the real issue for some disability advocates be that ongoing life experiences have convinced you that able-bodied citizens feel you are “in the way,” and that right-to-die types have as the ultimate goal more tools to get you, our disabled brothers and sisters, “out of the way?”
Many people with impairment remember a time when we were not in control of what happened to us, , or are *already* at the mercy of cost cutting measures that force people to hand over decision making about their *continued existence* to someone else. Or, we fear that we will be in that place sometime in the future.
I’ve been pressured in the hospital many times, not just to sign a DNR order, for example, but that I must not put anything into the free form comments, but just check the box that allows for withdrawal of nutrition and hydration. I customize the order for what I will and will not permit, face down the pressure to make it more “cost effective” for the hospital to end my life and sign it my way…
Of course, Mr Russel Shaw would say that that isn’t what assisted suicide is about at all…that folks that do this are *asked* to do it, solely as a means to end physical pain that has become too much to bear.
But, in the comments to his post sndrake of “Not Dead Yet” says:
You talk of “pain” but you might have been a little more honest and let people know that even in Oregon that reason doesn’t come near the top of the list that people have given for seeking assisted suicide. “fear of being a burden” and “loss of autonomy” come closer. Those aren’t medical issues
Why goodness me, and looky here…
There’s that fear of loss of autonomy…right at the top of the list.
And “being a burden,” …sounds like people need some validation that there’s no crime in needing assistance to live one’s life.
Disabled people are right in their experience and intuition that loss of autonomy is around many corners and that we have to be vigilant that as we suddenly or gradually need more care that we don’t get a mental push from some idea …and that *fear* increased to a wish for death— *has* *been* exploited…it is what Kevorkian’s actions are full of…
[update: Here’s the Wikipedia entry, with references at the bottom]
If excruciating physical pain were clearly the only reasons that people asked for assisted suicide…I’d have much less concern over it’s being abused and misused to get rid of the less convienient among us. I myself would truly *want* it as an option if all other experiences,thoughts,words,were consumed by physical pain.
*But* *pain* *is* *not* *the* *only* *reason* *people* *asked.
And, as Mr Drake continued in his comment:
Calling the suicidal wishes of disabled people “rational” and the suicidal wishes of nondisabled people “irrational” is nothing more than bigotry.
It’s the ultimate expression of the human doctor or caregiver or family member thinking, “Well I could never live like that…” and subtly or directly, projecting that attitude onto the person who is considering assisted suicide.
“I could never live like that…”
How *often* have any of us with disabilities heard *that*
I understand that there are many who see this choice as a rational one, many, some of whom are my closest friends.
For me there is only a very narrow path to voluntary euthanasia that can be considered rational…the path where the physical body is only giving off, not just chronic pain, exhaustion or fatigue, but excriciating pain and agony…*and* there is no preexisting *chemical-non situational depression* involved to impair judgement.
Otherwise, assisted suicide makes life a *fear* to be exploited/transformed into murder, not a torture to be released from.
And, I’ll never call it any less. Never. Even if I choose it.
and then there’s this writer
who *admits* that voluntary euthanasia in our society is the clear road to involuntary euthanasia…but then, with a kind of eerie calm, says that it is inevitable and therefore correct.
This isn’t “Logan’s Run.”
I’ve known so many older/disabled people. In tough pain. Who grasped at every last moment to stay alive…because they *wanted to stay* or they knew others wanted them to stay.
If assisted suicide was commonplace…well…I’d have a lot fewer good stories to tell about my friends or my husband…
because many of them would have been handed the wrongheaded idea and their fear would have pushed them to leave the planet early.
I love *this response* that (in a restrained and civilized way, laugh) wonders why Kevorkian has all this access to exposure
Perhaps those of you with clearer heads can take this one on:
I’m not going to rant, contrary to usuall..I’m just hoping this article doesn’t actually say what I think it does, or that I’m misreading it:
It seems that a legal scholar is stating that efforts against the Duty to Die crowd infringe on “medical freedom” and that one of the reasons disability rights activists have had some success arguing against removal of nutrition and hydration when someone has no living will is that because they are, in fact, the disability rights movement, they are “untouchable.”
Please, somebody with more firing neurons than I’ve got at the moment, wade through this when you get a minute.