Euthanasia

Euthanasia

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On 2012-06-12 the BC Supreme Court struck down a ban on physician-assisted suicide. The argument was peculiar — equality. Severely ill or disabled people cannot kill themselves as able-bodied people can. Denying them the right to die is denying them equality. I would have used a freedom of religion argument, that Christians do not have the right to impose their religious dogma on others, but all’s well that ends well.
Definitions Signs of Common Sense
What Are The Terminally Ill Asking For? Mark Pickup
What Aren’t The Terminally Ill Asking For Marie of Montréal
Arguments Against Euthanasia Rights Gordon Brown
Advice to Those Who Oppose Euthanasia Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel
Sophistry Dementia
The Oregon Experience Methods
The Advantage to Pro-Lifers Recent Developments
Why Do I Care? Good Life, Gentle Death. David Lewis’s Suicide
Mind You Own Business! Books
Christian Compassion Videos
The Disabled Rings
The Paranoid Links
Active vs Passive Euthanasia
To me, the euthanasia question is simple. If someone wants to die, that is their business and no one has any right to prevent them, though they might intervene for a cooling off period. Whether someone kills themselves, gets help in procuring the means to die, or help with the actual suicide does not matter. What counts is the fact they made the decision that life was intolerable, usually because of disease or pain. Nobody else can make that decision for them. Nobody else knows just how intense the pain, physical or psychological is.

In a case when someone is comatose, and can’t express their wishes, then a living will should prevail. Failing that, a combination of law and a physicians’ consensus prognosis should decide when to pull the plug. If you force someone to stay alive against their will, that is torture, a crime I consider more serious than murder. If there are any capital offenses, torture should be on that list.

Nobody wants anyone killed against their wishes. I am furious with meddling religious fruitcakes accusing people like me of wanting to kill people who don’t want to die, especially the disabled or mentally retarded. I am in favour of freedom. I don’t approve of coercion in these matters either to force people to die or to stay alive.

Kill Me

Kill me, you fucking fool!

~ Kingsley Amis (born: 1922-04-16 died: 1995-10-22 at age: 73), to his son.

Definitions

The Ignorant Making Decisions for the Informed

Christians, like Stephen Harper, imagine they are qualified to make end-of-life decisions for others, even when those others would rather make them for themselves. There are two serious problem with this:

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

These are how I use these terms in this essay. Be warned, not everyone agrees on these definitions. Some debaters even deliberately switch definitions in mid flight in a fit of debating legerdemain to make their opponents look ridiculous.

euthanasia
Euthanasia has several meanings:
  1. Literally good death, any peaceful death.
  2. Using an injection of seconal to kill a pet when it becomes homeless, old, sick or feeble.
  3. Hitler decided to remove certain groups from the gene pool by killing homosexuals, Jews, gypsies and mentally retarded people. Euthanasia was the Nazi euphemism.
  4. Killing a patient at the request of the family. The patient is brain dead, comatose or otherwise incapable of letting it be known if he or she would prefer to live or die.
  5. Mercy killing.
  6. Physician-assisted suicide, when a doctor provides medication to gently end life.
  7. Physician-attended suicide, a physician killing a terminally ill person at their request, perhaps by injection or IV.
I use the term euthanasia only in senses (6) and (7) in this essay. When other people debate about euthanasia they could well be using it in senses (1) through (5), or with some other definition. Unfortunately, in English, we use the same word for seven different things.
mercy killing
Killing someone to put them out of their suffering. The killer may or may not have the informed consent of the person killed. I, personally, use the term mercy killing only when there is no consent. Legally, mercy killing is usually treated as murder.
murder
Intentionally killing someone in an unlawful way. There are two kinds of murder.
  1. The murderer has the informed consent of the person killed.
  2. The murderer does not have the informed consent of the person killed.
In most parts of the world, types (1) and (2) murder are treated identically. In other parts, type (1) murder is excusable under certain special circumstances, in which case it ceases to be considered murder. Murder is by definition unlawful. It is a legal term not a moral one. Whether euthanasia is murder or not is a simple question for lawyers — Will you go to jail for doing it or won’t you? Whether euthanasia should be considered murder or not is a matter for legislators. Whether euthanasia is good or bad is a deep question for the individual citizen. A right to die and a pro life proponent could both agree "euthanasia is murder", meaning you will go to jail if you are caught doing it, but the right to die person would add, "but under certain circumstances, it should not be, just as it is not considered murder now in the Netherlands.".
palliative care
The active relief of suffering in a terminally-ill individual and although there are occasions when treatment may shorten life, this is not the intended or anticipated result. It is simply a side effect or complication of therapy.
physician-attended suicide
Physician-Activated Patient-Requested Death. This is just like physician-assisted suicide, however, on a signal from the patient, the physician turns on the gas, thus actively killing the patient. The law usually treats this as murder. People do not necessarily match on whether they approve of physician-attended and physician-assisted suicide. For example, my mother, for religious reasons, believed that it was morally acceptable for her to request physician-attended suicide, but not physician-assisted suicide. To her, suicide was a sin, but requesting someone else to kill you was not. Her logic escapes me. Some terminally ill people feel they could not deal with the terrible moment of a physician-assisted suicide, but feel they could possibly confront that same moment in a physician-activated one. That is why some people include physician-attended suicide as part of the right to die. I have coined this odd term because the term euthanasia has too many meanings, which leads to confusing debate.
physician-assisted suicide
Physician-Assisted Patient-Activated Suicide. The physician provides materials useful in suicide to a patient who requests them. The physician might for example drag in a cylinder of gas, hook up the mask, but the patient would have to turn on the gas himself. It also counts as assisted suicide if patient uses a computer supplied by a physician to turn on the gas, using whatever remaining abilities he has to communicate with the computer. The right to a physician-assisted suicide is the most debated right to die.
pro life
The view that it is never justified to take one’s own or anyone else’s life under any circumstances. It refers to the religious, moral and legal stance.
right to die
The right to refuse medical treatment, even if that refusal would result in death. This right is less controversial. Also the right to assistance from a physician for the terminally ill in committing a pain-free suicide, i.e. physician-assisted suicide, or physician-assisted suicide. Some people also include the right for the terminally ill to have a doctor turn on the gas for the patient, to actually kill the patient, not just set up for a suicide. I personally don’t include physician-attended suicide when I use the term "right to die".
right to life
You might think this refers to the right of someone so severely disabled or so ill or so destitute that they cannot contribute in any way to society to receive the necessary care to keep him alive. But it does not. It refers to the right of people other than a terminally ill patient to keep him alive against his wishes. It means denying his right to die. It is a deliberately deceptive and dishonest term to trick people who support a true right to life into signing on for denying people’s right to die.
suicide
When a person kills himself without help. If a patient dies of a drug overdose, that would count as physician-assisted suicide only if the physician gave the drug with the intention it be used for suicide.

What Are The Terminally Ill Asking For?

Check History

Before you sign up for a nursing home, check out their euthanasia policy. At least make sure they have never legally snatched legal guardianship to impose their religious will.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

Though I speak with the royal we, what I am about to say is my personal opinion. If you want a wider perspective check out these links further down to various groups concerned with the issue.

We ask for the right to assistance to die when life becomes unbearable. We ask for the right to determine for ourselves what unbearable means. Since suffering is subjective, how can any one but the patient decide just how much suffering is too much? It is the arrogant to think you can make that decision for someone else. It is heartless to think you can make up a rule that says no amount of suffering is too much. If you are not the one doing the suffering, you have no right to enforce such a rule. If you want to enforce merciless penance on yourself, you are welcome.

We ask that doctors or others who help us be free from prosecution. Such assistance is sporadically prosecuted now in Canada.

We ask that there be a formal legal procedure to request assistance in suicide. The intent is to allow a cooling off period, to bring in counselors, to alert the family, to summon treatment for depression, and when the suffering cannot be sufficiently alleviated, a quiet and dignified death, surrounded by family and friends.

We demand physician-assisted suicide, and request physician-attended suicide.

At the bare minimum, we ask that family and friends who come to be with us at that very difficult and frightening time when we elect to die at our own hand, will not be prosecuted for murder or assisting a suicide.

What Aren’t The Terminally Ill Asking For?

We are not demanding:

Arguments Against Euthanasia Rights

Pulling the Plug

If someone is on life support, they will continue living for the next while, unless you pull the plug. If you pull the plug, you are terminating that person’s life earlier than absolutely necessary. Technically this could be considered a murder. Oddly, religious people accept this, but balk at physician assisted suicide, even though the physician has the consent of the patient.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)
Argument Rebuttal
God owns you! The number one reason I hear against euthanasia (and suicide too for that matter) is that you can’t do it because it is not your decision. God owns you and it is up to Him to decide when you die. This is a religious superstition. Surely the concept of separation of church and state should protect non-Christians from Christians trying to force their religion down unwilling terminally-ill throats. Oddly, Christians have no objection to painful or desperate measures to prolong life unnaturally. Surely this is just as much interference with God’s time. A variation on this theme is that illness (particularly AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome)) and suffering is God’s punishment, and you have no right to try to escape any of God’s vengeance, and further that it is dangerous to do so. Oddly even fundamentalist Christians have surgery with anesthesia and go to the dentist when they have a toothache. Apparently it is ok to escape some of God’s meted suffering.
The value of human suffering according to Christian teaching, physical suffering is part of God’s divine plan for humankind. Suffering has a spiritual significance, and should be faced head-on, in the knowledge that it leads to a growth in virtue and helps in redemption. Some people believe that God wants everyone to wear yellow pajamas. However, we don’t enforce that with law. We leave it up to each individual person to decide whether it is really necessary to wear yellow pajamas to please God. To me, the notion that agony in your last moments is good for you is even nuttier than yellow pajamas. You can only put into law ideas that also make sense secularly.
Hitler did it. It must be bad. Euthanasia means literally good death. Hitler murdered people who did not want to die, and called it euthanasia. Hitler abused the language the same way he abused people.
Euthanasia is murder. It makes no difference if the person wants to die. We are demanding physician-assisted suicide,physician-assisted suicide, not physician murder, physician-attended suicide. The physician provides information and materials to ensure a peaceful, pain-free death. The patient takes the final plunge to actually use them. With modern technology, if the person still has control of even a few muscles they can still trigger the relay that starts the final IV pump.
The Bible says both murder and suicide are sins. We are not demanding that everyone use assisted suicide as a way to end their lives. Most of the time, there would be no need for it. If people in torment fear God, and seriously believe He wants them to suffer excruciating pain, they are welcome to their delusions. However, it is unfair to force such religious superstition down the throats of atheists, Christians and Muslims who believe God is loving and kind. Further it is against the Canadian constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion. You are not allowed to force your religious beliefs on others. You can use persuasion, but not force. Use your churches to browbeat your fellow Christians into refraining from physician-assisted suicide and physician-attended suicide, but kindly leave the rest of us alone. This should be a religious and moral issue up to each individual conscience, not a legal one, where Christians force their religious beliefs on everyone else. The arrogance of the Kristians is so infuriating. They think they have an exclusive handle on Truth and the determination of right and wrong. So strong is this conviction, they believe they have the right to push their standards on everyone else, even when those other people live more upright lives than the Christians themselves do. They don’t even see themselves as boorish when they attempt this. They think of it as fighting for God. The idiots! Using force to bully other people is fighting for Satan.

The pro-life Christians see it his way. Suffering is God’s punishment and no one should be allowed to escape it, even atheists. They believe that early suicide would lead to eternal torment, which is worse than any amount of suffering while here in this life. They offer no evidence this is so, but they are utterly convinced it is. These lunatics believe they are helping you by refusing to let you cut the suffering short. I wonder what stops them from insisting on operations without anaesthesia.

My religion says all forms of euthanasia are wrong. Go right ahead then and avoid all forms of euthanasia. My religion says euthanasia is preferable to avoid horrible pain, such as attends death by pancreatic cancer. I certainly don’t want to impose my religious beliefs on you. Why do you think you have the right to impose yours on me? Who do you think you are, my Mother? Even she would not dare to be so presumptuous.
Euthanasia is selfish. The main motive for euthanasia is to avoid pain, mental or physical. Granted this is a selfish desire. Yet the motive can be quite altruistic. You may not want to put your friends through the emotional wringer of watching you in agony day after day after day. You may want to spare your loved ones the spectacle of you slowly losing your mind and saying hateful or obscene things. You may not want to tie up a very expensive intensive care hospital bed that would better be used by someone with at least a year of life left in them. In Canada such beds are paid for my public health insurance. There is no way you can spare your loved ones that pain whether or not you elect euthanasia. You are going to die soon anyway.
If we allow this, it will be the slippery slope. Soon people in old age homes will be bumped off in the night. Right now, assisted suicide occurs all the time. It is treated with a wink. Nobody dares investigate. Sometimes the motives may be nefarious. Sometimes the patient may not have given informed consent. We don’t know. With a formal process to handle assisted suicides, with safeguards and witnesses, any suspicious death would be investigated. This would reduce the incidences of murders of the elderly. The hoary slippery slope fallacy flows in the other direction too. If we allow fundamentalist Christians to put into law their beliefs about euthanasia and force them on everyone, what will they enact next? jail sentences for teaching evolution? death for disrespect to your parents?
If we allow this, there will be a huge increase in suicides. Quite the contrary. Consider AIDS. Since physician-assisted suicide is illegal, if you have AIDS and fear your end may be particular dreadful, you must commit suicide while you are still healthy enough to handle it yourself. If you knew you could count on help if the going got really rough, you could postpone it — perhaps indefinitely and die a quiet natural death. Applying for legal assistance for suicide will ring alarm bells. All kinds of help will swing into action who may have otherwise ignored your plight. Family will be able to comfort you knowing your plan. Counselors will be able to help you with any psychological problems making matters worse. Doctors may prescribe additional pain-killing medications and anti-depressants to help you over that rough spot. People who might have rashly committed suicide, will elect to apply for physician-assisted suicide. In the cooling off period, most will elect to continue living.
Taking your own life or taking anyone else’s is just plain wrong, under any circumstances. Any circumstances? You right wingers often make exceptions for:
  • Killing in war: even when the person killed objects most strenuously.
  • Capital punishment: even when the person executed objects strenuously.
  • Homosexuals: Leviticus says it is your duty to kill them.
  • Whaling: killing whales and dolphins, even though they have superior intelligence to us.
  • Childbirth: It is ok to kill a child in order to save the mother’s life.
  • Abortion:
  • Self defense: or defense of a third party.
  • SWAT: when a SWAT team kills a sniper.
The Bible says that physician-assisted suicide and physician-attended suicide are both forbidden by the Bible. You will go to hell if you are involved in any way with them. Therefore, they should be illegal. Surely then avoiding any of God’s pain should be illegal, such as anesthesia for operations or dentistry. By that logic anything you think the Bible forbids should be illegal. For example, there should be laws against:
  • Eating lobster, camel, rabbit, pork, clams, swans, owls, bats, dogs and snails. An abomination according to  Leviticus 11:9-31
  • adultery. A capital offense according to Leviticus 20:10
Further, these laws should apply to Christian, Buddhist and atheist alike. How arrogant to assume that everyone else accepts your religion as valid! Perhaps you forget that both the American and Canadian constitutions guarantee freedom of religion and thus also freedom from religion.
If we allow this, when I am old, people will push me into killing myself rather than permitting me to live out my days. This is an exceedingly selfish argument. Because you are concerned with the faint possibility of dealing with a little pressure, you are willing to condemn others to excruciating torment. Shame on you! Further, assisted suicide would be a formal legal process, at least as complicated as buying a house or getting married. Nobody could make you do it. There would be a waiting period, so you could change your mind after some greedy relative talked you into it.
If we allow this, it will be the first step on the road to hell. We will browbeat all disabled people into killing themselves to save the government the expense of caring for them. Assisted suicide is for people in pain who can’t bear to live. The disabled, by in large, are cheerful group actively enjoying their lives. If someone told them to submit to suicide, they would tell them where to get off, just as any able-bodied human would.
If we allow this, people will kill themselves every time they get a little stomach ache. We can’t make suicide too easy or attractive. Would you do something so foolish? Why then do you think everyone else would? It would not be attractive. Applying for a physician-assisted suicide would be about as much fun as a tax audit, convincing the legal authorities you were serious, of sound mind etc.
With modern painkillers there is no such thing as excruciating pain any more. There is no need to use death to escape pain. I think everyone has experienced some very high level of pain in their lives that painkillers did not help. Imagine that pain stretched over months. Childbirth and kidney stones come to mind. In my own case I have suffered for years from nausea as a side effect of the HIV (Human Imumuno-deficiency Virus) drugs I take. Nothing modern or folk medicine has offered, even Stemetil (a drug used to counteract chemotherapy), works. Imagine the prospect of feeling nauseous every hour after hour for the rest of your life. Imagine the gall of someone else perfectly healthy, telling you that suffering was necessarily bearable, that you had no choice but to bear it indefinitely.
There’s no need for physician-assisted suicide. You can always shoot yourself or drink drain cleaner or eat rat poison. You can buy illegal drugs on the street. You can drive your car into a lamppost. The patient is terminally ill, bed-ridden. They have no energy for racing about collecting poisons. People don’t like to think about death or plan ahead for it. Even able bodied people can have extreme difficulty finding the correct drugs, even when they are willing to travel to Mexico in search of them. They want a quiet dignified death. The want to die peacefully and certainly. With street drugs, they have no idea of what they have actually purchased or what dosages are needed. They can’t very well blast their brains out in a hospital ward spraying the other patients with their innards.
Just take an overdose of sleeping pills. You don’t need anyone’s help for that! Modern sleeping pills contain a small quantity of emetic. When you overdose on them, you automatically throw them up. This is a safety feature to prevent accidental fatal overdose. To use pills, you need specially made ones without the emetic. The stomachs of the terminally ill are often too sensitive to hold down any food, much less an overdose of any medication. At that point you need something taken intravenously or by gas.
Just use some gas! like carbon monoxide, nitrogen or helium. If you tried carbon monoxide, you would likely end up harming anyone else in the same building. If you are terminally ill, dragging a giant metal cylinder of nitrogen or helium to your bedside would require somebody’s assistance. Currently, your helper could face criminal prosecution. Hospitals would almost certainly interfere with the proceedings given their current legal liability. Helium plus a large plastic bag makes the most sense. You can rent a cylinder for about  $7.50 CAD a month (plus  $35.00 CAD fill and  $200.00 CAD deposit) and keep it ready for use. The lightest Q-sized cylinder is 70 cm (2.30 ft) tall and 14 kg (30.86 lbs). It is not something you could hide away in a drawer. You can pretend it is for balloons without raising too much suspicion from the vendor. Helium is not flammable, and it rises, so is unlikely to suffocate others if there is ventilation (e.g. a skookum fan and open window). However, it still takes substantial effort to drag the cylinder into position and set up the equipment. You also have to jerry rig something to hold the valve open. The standard balloon filling valve automatically closes as soon as you take off sideways pressure. People who are ready to die are too weak to set up the equipment unassisted. They must do it while they still have the strength to do it at home and on their own.
Just use some of the stuff they use to put down dogs — seconal. Seconal is a strictly controlled drug. Your veterinarian will not give you any because he would be liable to criminal prosecution.
People might die two weeks earlier than natural. One hundred years ago, there was no such thing as hanging on for months or years while very ill. Once you got sick, you died quickly of an infection. Modern medicine has turned death into a protracted ordeal. What would be so terrible about cutting out the worst couple of weeks of your life? What is this Puritanical need to absorb and appreciate every last sling and arrow? Let those that love life so much that no amount of suffering is too much, live, and let those for whom the suffering is too much, die. How can anyone but the patient know what too much is? Everyone has their limits to bearable pain.
The terminally ill need to be protected. The terminally ill are overwhelmingly in favour of choice. However, they don’t have much energy to press their case. They want the option to die early if it gets just too awful. Knowing that option is there would give them courage to handle the daily tribulations. What they really need protection from are Christian fanatics who want them to suffer to placate a cruel and unjust god — those rigid fundamentalists who lack imagination or compassion. The fundamentalists want to protect the terminally ill from themselves. They treat the terminally ill like children who have no idea what is in their own best interest. The motives for doing something like that are highly suspect. What they are really asking for is legal sanction to help prevent themselves from sinning should they be terminally ill and in agony. It is not enough they put themselves through needless agony, they are demanding everyone else join them in their folly.
Just go to the Netherlands. The Netherlands have legal physician-assisted suicide. To use that option you would have to be well enough to travel. If you were well enough to travel, why would you want to kill yourself?

Advice to Those Who Oppose Euthanasia

If you are firmly opposed to euthanasia under any circumstances, get a lawyer to write up your wishes. Make it clear that no matter how much pain you are in, no matter how much you protest, you want even more pain to appease your sadistic deity. Make it clear that even if you become so brain damaged, that you start exposing yourself, eating feces or molesting children you want to soldier on. Then you will be safe. But please mind your own business. Not all of us think the way you do. We are adults too. We have the right to our own end of life decisions.

Sophistry

Anti-euthanasia people seem willing to accept euthanasia if it is made sufficiently unpleasant. The sophistry is mind-boggling. For example, some think euthanasia is OK, so long as it is effected by slowly starving to death. As long as there is sufficient suffering, they will sign off. Another strange proposal from the anti-euthanasia camp is that people be put into permanent general anaesthesia. They would die but at an unpredictable time. It would tie up hospital beds for possibly months at a time to no useful purpose. It would deny the loved ones a final definitive goodbye. It has the exact same effect as euthanasia, just drags it out in a hideous above earth burial while the living corpse slowly goes gangrenous. Why should non Christians humour Christians with such nutty rituals who don’t even know the patient? It is insane. We must not allow Christians to impose their nutty death superstitions on the rest of us.

Others think euthanasia is OK, if you first degrade the patient by turning him into a drug addict oblivious to his surroundings, and then the death must occur via a nudge nudge wink wink accidental drug overdose. This is malice. It is like saying, I will let you die if let me cut your arm off first. The Christian sadists want to make people suffer so badly they will not elect euthanasia.

This goofiness reminds me of Israel where they impose a religious superstition each Saturday to make all elevators stop working properly, but not entirely. Christians worship a sadistic god who allegedly enjoys watching people suffer particularly just before death. Christians are not content to offer up their own suffering, they demand the right to force non-Christians to suffer in a pointless sacrifice. Their auxiliary argument is that Jehovah is the owner (in the sense of slavemaster) of all humans, and we humans have no right to destroy his property. The freedom of religion clauses in our constitutions should give us freedom from their forceful and painful imposition of the Christian religion. If they won’t back off, we should set about rooting out their religion, root and branch.

The Oregon Experience

Right to Interfere

The difference in the atheist and Christian view of euthanasia is simple. Atheists believe they should not interfere in the end-of-life decisions of Christians, no matter how bat-shit-crazy they think they are. Christians believe they are everyone’s mother and as such have the right to override any end-of-life decisions an atheist makes.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

Oregon has had a physician-assisted suicide law since 1998. There have been no reported abuses. It takes two physicians to prescribe a dose of fatal drugs. Only one in six people is accepted. The rest are routed to various alternate therapies such as symptom control or treatment for depression. These people might previously have attempted suicide on their own, and would have received no treatment. One in ten who applies actually gets and uses a prescription. It often acts as insurance against some horrible death, such as slow suffocation from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).

The Advantage of Euthanasia to Pro-Lifers

BC Almanac

CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) BC Almanac radio show read two letters on the air that showed listeners did not understand what physician assisted suicide was. One believed that physician assisted suicide was currently highly regulated, and all regulation was about to be removed and so abuse would explode. The very opposite is true. Physician assisted suicide occurs all the time, but on the quiet without any regulation or oversight. A new law would add legal, medical and psychological oversight to make sure all happens in the light of day and by the book.

The second writer suggested that people should register on their drivers’ licence whether they approved of euthanasia. She apparently thought physician assisted suicide was a sort of living will to decide what you wanted done with you if you went into permanent coma. The way it works is you request assistance with suicide at the time, in full control of your mental faculties.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

Did you know that the way things are now, in British Columbia, if you don’t provide a specific living will, a hospital can put a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order on you without your consent! Today, euthanasia is effectively happening, under the table, both to people who want it and to those who don’t want it.

By requiring a formal procedure to request euthanasia, it would be much harder to slip euthanasia by with a nudge nudge, wink wink the way it happens now.

Why Do I Care?

Right to Interfere

The difference in the atheist and Christian view of euthanasia is simple. Atheists believe they should not interfere in the end-of-life decisions of Christians, no matter how bat-shit-crazy they think they are. Christians believe they are everyone’s mother and as such have the right to override any end-of-life decisions an atheist makes.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

I am HIV+ (Human Imumuno-deficiency Virus Positive (infected)). I have been since the summer of 1985. Over that time my health as dipped up and down. Most of my friends have died of AIDS, some with excruciating deaths.

I get extremely angry at busy-body Catholics poking their nose into what I consider a most personal of issues. They have some very warped ideas about what the creator expects of us, and like medieval torturers are willing to put people through extreme pain to save their souls. As I said on the CBC, "It is none of their damn business!"

I think it should be my decision when suffering is too much. To retain that control I will be forced to kill myself early, while I still have enough strength to handle the suicide totally unaided. I have been quite sick of late, and I have been making preparations. This is ironic. Meddling Christians are pushing me into premature suicide. If they would simply mind their own bloody business, I could in all probability safely postpone that suicide indefinitely and enjoy a natural death.

The conviction of Dr. Kevorkian for murder shows the public are bloody fools, and can’t tell the difference between an axe murder and mercy. The sanctimonious A&E biography of Dr. Kevorkian reiterates that blindness. Nobody cares a fig about the person begging to die. The victim of euthanasia is the only seriously interested party, and he is the only party given no say in the debate. He is presumed incompetent simply because he can no longer stand the suffering. The selfishness of the meddling Christians and their superstitious arguments makes me nauseous. Christians pretend the suffering does not exist because it conflicts with their superstitious beliefs.

The judge who sentenced Kevorkian chastised him as if he were a serial axe murderer. She refused to see the difference.

I get furious at Christians forcing their crazy superstitions about death down the throats of those who want no part of them. Why should a man with ALS and a month to live have to put up with the final hours of slowly suffocating to death? Someone who helps is merciful. Someone who turns away is a Nazi.

Consider also those who are not terminally ill, but who have had some dreadful accident, such as burns to 90% of the body or a broken spinal chord so they are paralysed from the neck down. No matter how much they might scream I want to die. Please somebody kill me! they are trapped with no means of escape no matter how utterly intolerable their existence is. This is Christian mercy solidified into law.

Imagine the outcry if some religious group were able to push through legislation to also outlaw euthanasia for animals. No matter how horribly injured your pet were, you had no option but to sit by and watch him suffer and slowly die. We would consider it sadistic. Why do we have more compassion for our pets than our loved ones?

Mind You Own Business!

Indirect Suicide

If someone refuses to eat, or to take necessary medications, they die, fairly slowly and painfully. Oddly, the religious have little problem with this form of suicide. I suppose because it is protracted and sufficiently painful that it satisfies their desire to see others suffer.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

I find the anti-choice folk a meddling bunch of busybodies. Most of the time, they are fabulously healthy, deeply religious, and have no inkling of what it is like to be terminally ill. They think they know better than the terminally ill what is in their best interest. The terminally ill are overwhelmingly pro-choice. The terminally ill are only physically incapacitated. They still have their marbles. They are the ones who have to endure the end of life trials. Surely, who is more qualified than they to make such important decisions? I’d say, if you are not terminally ill, you have no business forcing your opinions on those who are. You have not been there. You don’t know what you are talking about. Unfortunately, the terminally ill have no energy to make their voices heard politically. The have no political clout since they will unlikely ever vote again. So they are at the mercy of energetic fundamentalist busybodies.

Pro choice means just that, that you want the option to die left open for you and others. You don’t want to close off all possibility of early death no matter how intolerable life becomes. The non-terminally ill have this right naturally, and just like most terminally ill people, elect to keep on living. It is unfair to take this right away from the terminally ill, at the very time it is most reassuring that there exists an escape should life get too terrible.

Mr. Novakowski has been pontificating on the Robert Latimer case. He has a daughter disabled with cerebral palsy, which he considers makes his situation identical with that Latimer found himself in. The situations are completely different. Novakowski’s daughter is healthy and happy. There is utterly no reason to help her die. Latimer’s daughter was screaming in pain. Novakowski says euthanasia is not the answer in his case. Of course! Nobody said it was! The right to die is about letting people choose to escape suffering, not bumping them off because caretakers are fed up with caring for them. When Novakowski talks of the slippery slope he is projecting his own desires on the pro-euthanasia camp. He is the only one who feels tempted to bump off his daughter. Nobody in the pro-euthanasia camp is willing to let him get away with that. Novakowski imagines taking away the right to die somehow increases respect for the individual. It is the very opposite. He wants the government to meddle and bully where it has no business.

Christian Compassion

Can You Cry?

A rep from the Sally Jesse Raphael (a talk show host) once phoned me up and asked me to come on her show to talk about euthanasia. They asked if I could guarantee I would cry. I said no. They then decided I was not a suitable guest.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

People supposedly motivated by Christian compassion do things literally like this: cut a hole in an elderly woman’s chest without her consent to insert a feeding tube. In seeing it is not working, they allowed her to slowly starve to death. The women had Alzheimers. If they did it to a dog, they would be reported to the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

The Disabled

Other than the Catholics, the disabled are the most organised opposition to euthanasia. They are afraid they will be killed against their will because someone else thinks their lives are not worth living. This is irrational and paranoid. Physician assisted suicide is a formal legal procedure with maximal bureaucratic delay for the terminally ill. It will require your signature and the signature of your doctor. The disabled, are not ill, much less terminally ill. They would not qualify even if they wanted it. Contrast that with how physician-assisted suicide happens today. Everyone looks the other way. There is no paper work. It is much easier to bump someone off who does not want to die today than when the procedure would be handled in the light of day.

The Paranoid

The wealthy elderly are concerned that relatives will pressure them into suicide to get their inheritance a few months early. Movies make elderly paranoid on this matter, but probate takes so long, very few people would consider murder to get their money a few months earlier. Most people cling to their elderly relatives and want them to live on, even if they suffer.

Also, the elderly with chronic conditions are worried hospital administrators will pressure them into suicide to free a bed. What they refuse to recognise, is they can be pressured now, and killed quietly without any questions asked. If we had a formal procedure, the patient would be interviewed by many professionals, some of whom would ask, Are you choosing to die of you your free will? Is anyone pressuring you? At that point, all you have to do is tell the truth to summon help to get those pressuring you off your back.

Active vs Passive Euthanasia

Bogus Respectable Arguments

Christians are motivated by religious superstition, but they have learned that people laugh in their faces when they present arguments based on such superstitions. So instead, they make up bogus arguments they imagine might fly. So, for example, in a euthanasia debate, they will usually avoid telling you that they believe the god Jehovah owns you and you have no right to evade the suffering he imposes. Instead they make up highly improbable scenarios about a Hitler murdering crippled children as a result of terminally ill people being given the right to choose the time of their deaths.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

One of the smarmiest, lawyerly, cowardly and cruel notions Christians have foist on the world, is passive euthanasia. In their view, it somehow does not count as killing you merely starve or dehydrate someone to death, never mind that dehydration is a crueler way to die that being eaten alive by lions.

I say this is bloody nonsense. What counts is your intent and the result. If your intent is to kill and the result is death, it does not matter what your means it, it is still killing.

Consider that if you kill an infant by neglect or a beating, it is still murder. If a kidnapper kills his victim by starvation or a gun, it is still murder. Why should killing a patient actively or passively be any different?

If you are going to euthanise someone, be at least as kind as you would to a beloved pet dog when you put it down. Use a method that is painless and quick such as a shot of seconal.

It is monstrous to hold out only the torture of passive euthanasia to someone terminally ill in such pain they cannot bear any more. It is downright sadistic. It is similarly monstrous to euthanise someone that way who is not able to protest. If there is a hell, I hope all Christians who try to fob passive euthanasia by dehydration off on others spend eternity there, suffering exactly as they made others suffer.

Signs of Common Sense

According to Dr. Eike Kluge, professor of ethic at the University of Victoria, in a hospice, if the caretakers, even at the request of the patient, oversedate him causing death or withhold medication or treatment causing death, or if they select a treatment that would shorten life relative to some other treatment, even if that other treatment would cause excruciating pain, the caregivers are technically guilty of first degree murder. This is insane, but that is the law. Members of parliament are afraid of outraging the Catholics and other anti-euthanasia advocates.

However, in practice, sanity often prevails. There is something called prosecutorial discretion. Prosecutors don’t have to take the caretakers to trial, especially if they think a jury would ignore the law and refuse to convict them. So in practice, if you are suffering great pain or nausea that cannot be controlled by drugs, often caretakers will at your request oversedate you and allow you to die in peace. If they are prosecuted, usually they will be charged only with administering a noxious substance. If convicted, they would usually only get probation or a requirement their work be supervised. Unlike for murder, there is no minimum sentence. The caretakers would not lose they right to practice medicine. Of course, if the Catholics get wind of this and butt in, all bets are off what will happen.

The other piece of good news is that you have the right to refuse any medical procedure, including resuscitation. If your doctor ignores your request, he can be changed with assault. The catch is, if you are considered mentally incompetent, you lose that right. All you need do is make your wishes clear on an advance directive card in your wallet.

On 2013-06-12 Québec tabled a bill to legalise euthanasia, with many conditions. You must be in the final stages of an incurable disease.

Mark Pickup

We Know Better

Lets say someone is elderly, and too feeble to contribute in any way to society. They require considerable care. Even though they are not in pain, they may prefer not to live that way. Who is to say they have no right to terminate that existence? Christians think they know better than the person living that life.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

Mark Pickup is an anti-euthanasia advocate. He has multiple sclerosis. Be became depressed and wanted to die. He was not in physical pain, and he was not paralysed, but felt worthless. He was well enough kill himself, but did not actually attempt suicide. He wants to keep assisted suicide illegal because he fears had it been available, he might be dead now. This is a groundless fear. Had he applied for help with his suicide, he would have been treated for his depression and for his delusions of worthlessness. As it was, his problems with severe depression went untreated. He would have been in less danger of rash suicide had he applied for help dying. All assisted suicide programs have an assessment and waiting period. It is not death on demand.

Pickup also argues that the terminally ill person has no right to choose when to die. He should stay alive to please those around him no matter how intense the pain. This is insane, considering postponing grief of more importance than avoiding torture. Pickup imagines modern medicine can always manage pain. I have only once been near death, but I have been seriously ill many times in which modern medicine could in no way begin to manage the pain. Try a passing a kidney or gallstone, or being so nauseous you threw up continuously for 30 minutes. Then imagine that level of pain bedeviling you for the rest of your days without letup.

What gives people like Mr. Pickup who have never felt serious pain, the right to tell others who have, how much pain is unbearable? How much pain is too much is a highly subjective thing, and it is not something you can decide for someone else. Just because I can bear a particular pain does not mean someone else is equally insensitive to it. My sister prefers to have dental work done without anaesthesia. However, that is no reason to demand everyone do it.

Pickup also expressed worry that people might bump themselves off because they felt too much of a burden. I look at it this way. If somebody finds being a burden even more awful than death, then who am I to condemn them to a fate they consider worse than death? I likely would not feel tortured in that situation, but obviously they do. The compassionate solution is not to force them to suffer by cutting off their only escape route, but to help them over their guilt about being cared for.

Marie of Montréal

ALS

Gloria Taylor had ALS, an incurable disease. My friend Geoff Sirois died of it on 2001-08-19. It is one of the most horrible ways to die. Gradually your muscles stop working so you can’t move, cannot eat, cannot speak and finally cannot breathe. It is like being buried alive. My friends at the BC Civil Liberties Association and three others in a similar boat to Ms. Taylor sued and overturned the law in Canada making physician assisted suicide illegal. The judge declared it inconsistent with the constitution. If parliament does not fix the law within an year, it will become invalid.

This has brought on a firestorm from meddling Christians who wanted to make sure Ms. Taylor did not miss a microsecond of the suffering they believe their god Jehovah was inflicting on her. This is as insane as insisting she have her appendix out without anaesthesia. They wanted to force their religion, complete with unsubstantiated superstitions about suffering, death, bodies possessed by souls, and after death torture on non-believers. Christians like Will Johnston refuse to respect the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion, which includes the right to reject Christianity.

Back in 1990, I comforted my friend David Lewis as he ended his life to avoid the final stages of AIDS. At the time Christians meddled outrageously as well. I wrote an essay about it.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66) source
On 2007-11-22 Paula Todd aired a show on CBC ’s The Verdict on euthanasia. She had an anti-euthanasia guest identified as Marie of Montréal. Marie’s view what that shooting someone in cold blood, killing them when they were terminally ill without their permission, killing them at their request when they were terminally ill, providing them with the means to commit suicide, committing suicide, (and presumably abortion and the morning after bill) were all killing, and hence all were equally wicked and should be considered the same thing without distinction. This allowed her to provide an argument against killing the terminally ill without their permission, then apply it to all forms of killing since they were perfectly equivalent in her view.

This women’s dishonest and irrational way of debating suggests she is a member of some church and she is simply parroting the views of the church. She believes her church to have an exclusive hold on absolute truth, hence everyone should adopt those views. What she is doing has little to do with euthanasia and a lot to do with proselytising. Whether someone’s views are rational or not has nothing whatsoever to do with their right to lobby for them. Most of the people against euthanasia are meddling religious busybodies who think they have a right to interfere in other people’s most personal choices. It is cosmically unfair that those most affected by euthanasia legislation have little energy to promote their views, and those with least interest and maximal nuttiness have the loudest voices.

Gordon Brown

On Sin

The whole conception of Sin is one which I find very puzzling, doubtless owing to my sinful nature. If Sin consisted in causing needless suffering, I could understand; but on the contrary, sin often consists in avoiding needless suffering. Some years ago, in the English House of Lords, a bill was introduced to legalize euthanasia in cases of painful and incurable disease. The patient’s consent was to be necessary, as well as several medical certificates. To me, in my simplicity, it would seem natural to require the patient’s consent, but the late Archbishop of Canterbury, the English official expert on Sin, explained the erroneousness of such a view. The patient’s consent turns euthanasia into suicide, and suicide is sin. Their Lordships listened to the voice of authority, and rejected the bill. Consequently, to please the Archbishop — and his God, if reports truly — victims of cancer still have to endure months of wholly useless agony, unless their doctors or nurses are sufficiently humane to risk a charge of murder. I find difficulty in the conception of a God who gets pleasure from contemplating such tortures; and if there were a God capable of such wanton cruelty, I should certainly not think Him worthy of worship. But that only proves how sunk I am in moral depravity.

~ Bertrand Russell (born: 1872-05-18 died: 1970-02-02 at age: 97) An Outline Of Intellectual Rubbish

Gordon Brown was the Prime Minister of UK. He was is adamantly opposed to physician-assisted suicide on the grounds, if it were permitted, families would pressure their elderly into committing suicide. I find this argument invalid on four grounds.

  1. Simply being elderly surely would not be sufficient grounds to grant physician-assisted suicide. You would need some sort of severe suffering, physical or mental.
  2. If I were a terminally ill person, and my family and friends had abandoned me, what point would there be in dragging on a few more months? Why insist I suffer that additional onslaught? Should it not be my decision? Who else’s business is it anyway?
  3. If I were a terminally ill person, and my family were so heartless as to tell me that the world would be better off if I were dead, there is no reason I have to humour them. They have no legal power over me. I can tell them to take a flying leap at the moon. In fact, because there are third parties involved investigating, it is much harder for relatives to pressure me into suicide than the way it is now.
  4. If I were a terminally ill person, and my family were so were so eager for their inheritances they started heavily pressuring me to kill myself, the whole matter would come to light as soon as I applied for physician-assisted suicide. I would then have an advocate to help me get my cruel family off my back and help me find some alternate emotional support. The way it is now, my suicide would be completely hushed up.
In short, it is not really all that terrible a thing if a terminally ill person opts for physician-assisted suicide when you would not in the same circumstances. No one commits suicide on a whim. The law deliberately would make it difficult. The red-tape ensures physician-assisted suicide were was not taken lightly. However, it is an extremely cruel to force someone to suffer with no possible way out, just to satisfy your religious superstitions, which the terminally ill person may not share. It is not your business to tell someone else how much they are suffering or how much suffering is too much to bare. You have absolutely no right to force your religious beliefs on others, particularly at the very end of their lives.

Gordon Brown’s policy could be compared with a mandatory automobile passenger restraint device, presumed by its inventors to be beneficial, but never tested scientifically, that was excruciatingly painful for a sizable proportion of people.

Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel

Dr. Emanuel is an oncologist at the University of Pennsylvania. He wrote a famous essay called Why I Hope to Die at 75. In his practice, over the years he has seen many people suffer the last decades of their lives with poor health, and greatly diminished capacity. He feels we would be better off if nature took its course swiftly and promptly. To that end, he advocates a rather extreme measure: at age 75, even if you are healthy, to ever after refuse any drugs or medical treatments whose primary purpose is to extend your life. However, he considers it acceptable to use measures to reduce pain or increase quality of life.

On 2014-12-07, Michael Enright interviewed Dr. Emanuel on CBC radio The Sunday Edition. He pointed out that Dr. Emanuel had also written an essay opposing the legalisation of physician assisted suicide. Mr. Enright asked him to explain how he could hold such apparently contradictory views.

Let me deal with Emanuel’s points one by one:

  1. Refusing medical care is in no way a form of suicide. Refusing drugs is similar to refusing food or water. It is just a slower way to commit suicide than using helium, sleeping pills or firearms. The intent is to cut your life short in order to avoid suffering. Back in 1999, I protested the Makah whale sacrifices by going on a sort of Gandhian hunger strike, by refusing to take my HIV drugs that keep me alive. The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) arrested me. They apparently considered what I was doing a form of suicide. Perhaps Dr. Emanuel means that insurance companies do not invalidate life insurance policies for refusing drugs or medical treatments.
  2. People in extreme pain that cannot be controlled are rare, therefore there is no need to provide such a drastic option for them. I am sure there are many rare cancers, but I sure Dr. Emanuel would never dream of withholding treatment when an inexpensive treatment exists, when withholding it is justified only by bureaucratic convenience.
  3. Even in countries like the Netherlands where physician assisted suicide is freely available, almost no one uses it. Thus, there is thus no reason to provide the option to anyone. Over my lifespan I have encountered a number of physicians with strong religious views. I am a gay atheist and pro-euthanasia activist. You can imagine how badly things went with some of them. One doctor walked out in the middle of an operation requiring general anaesthesia that he was performing on me and ever-after refused communication of any kind. My biggest nightmare is falling into the hands of such physicians at the end of my life when I do not have the energy to do battle with them. Granted, there is something odd about me, because pain killers, even strong ones like Tylenol-3, codeine, oxycontin and morphine seem to have almost no effect on my pain. The idea of pain as overpowering as infected wisdom teeth, kidney stones or gallstones, for months on end, is unendurable. I am the expert on how endurable my pain is, not anyone else, not even a (fundamentalist Christian) physician. I sincerely hope I die peacefully, but I cannot even live peacefully knowing that some physicians I consider sadistic madmen have the legal right to torment me indefinitely, and refuse to let me die. Some of these people have expressed their glee at me suffering eternal torment. They seem eager for the chance of an early start! I want the option to die should life become unendurable. I also sincerely hope I never have to use that option. In like manner, I would like access to a parachute when I fly in a small plane, but I strongly wish to avoid ever having to use it. I am the last person who would use it on a whim. Oddly, Emmanuel counsels self-suicide much, much sooner, for much more trivial reasons than I would advocate physician-assisted suicide, with his proviso you must you kill yourself by refusing medical care.
  4. The main problem the terminally ill have is depression, not unbearable pain. It would be irresponsible to hand them a bottle of suicide pills and shove them out the door. Legal physician assisted suicide is not a casual procedure. There are forms, waits, counselors, lawyers, interviews… (Unfortunately, it requires considerably more mental energy than people in the final stages of life have.) In contrast, illegal assisted suicide (the way we handle it now) is a wink wink, nudge nudge affair. Self-suicide has no safeguards at all. If someone comes in and requests legal physician assisted suicide, skilled practitioners will diagnose and treat any depression. In Oregon, the Netherlands and Switzerland, most people who formally request physician-assisted suicide either abort the process part way through or do not ever use the pills they are given. But in those jurisdictions, the option is there, and it gives people courage to carry on. They don’t have to kill themselves prematurely while they are still strong enough to effect it without aid. They know it is theoretically completely safe to procrastinate suicide to the very, very last second or indefinitely.

Given Dr. Emanuel’s background, I would have expected well-thought out, consistent and compassionate arguments for his positions, but they struck me as juvenile, off-the cuff, shallow and incredibly self-centred.

I can’t help the feeling that Dr. Emanuel is pulling my leg. He is like a brilliantly polished Onion spoof of a dotty radio guest. This could almost be a generation X+1 This Is That skit.

Dementia

All over the world, populations are aging. Every country will be swamped with people with Alzheimers and no budget to care for them. This means the level of care will be nightmarish. Personally, I see no point in a life while demented. It is just degrading and a costly nuisance to others. Presumably, there are other people who think as I do. Unfortunately, the Christians are in control and work tirelessly to prevent people from avoiding that nightmare using physician-assisted suicide. We have to get rid of this stigma. I am not for a second suggesting involuntary euthanasia for people who want such an existence. I just want people to be free to choose to check out early when they are faced with looming dementia.

Methods

What are the best methods to commit suicide?

  1. Rat poison

    This is the method my mother threatened to use. She died of natural causes. People kill rats in ways to make them suffer, not euthanise them. You do not want to do this.
  2. Jumping off cliffs

    (or bridges, tall buildings, dams etc.) Unless you calculate carefully you may not die. This also requires considerable athleticism to launch yourself. You will likely will not have the energy.
  3. Drowning

    The problem is the suffocation reflex kicks in very quickly and you feel an overwhelming desire to surface and breathe.
  4. Hanging

    This requires careful calculation of length of rope, degree of slack, height of drop. If you don’t get it just right you will dangle and slowly strangle, a rather unpleasant death. This is favoured by people in prisons with no other means available.
  5. Pills

    Pills are designed to cure you, not kill you. They may make you throw up or feel deathly ill, but there is no guarantee an overdoes of some random medication will actually kill you. Some medication overdoses are intensely unpleasant. Years ago, seconal and nembutal were favoured. The catch is, the manufacturers have added a small amount of emetic to each pill. If you take an overdose, you will probably throw up. The problem is magnified when you are deathly ill with a sensitive stomach.
  6. Gases

    People need oxygen for life. If you breathe gas that contains no oxygen you will die.
    1. Oxygen

      does not work because it just makes you light headed.
    2. Carbon dioxide

      CO₂: does not work because it stimulates the suffocation reflex.
    3. Hydrogen

      the catch is it is highly flammable. You could easily start a fire in the process.
    4. Methane

      natural gas (also propane). The catch is it is highly flammable. You could easily start a fire in the process. You could easily kill others using it. This could be made to look like an accident.
    5. Nitrogen

      When divers get excess nitrogen into their blood they suffer from nitrogen narcosis then the bends, a very painful condition. However, this does not happen when you breath even pure nitrogen at atmospheric pressure.
    6. Argon

      like helium but more expensive and harder to get.
    7. Krypton

      like helium but more expensive and harder to get.
    8. Helium

      this is not flammable. It does not trigger the suffocation reflex. It rises, dissipating so it will not harm others. Easily available. Reasonably priced. The tank is heavy, and the valves need strength, so you would need some assistance.
  7. Plastic Bag

    This is usually used in conjunction with some other method. You need a large bag. If you use a small one, the suffocation reflex will trigger quickly and you won’t be able to help yourself from ripping it off. The idea is you want the suffocation reflex delayed long enough so you are already unconscious from some other method. Make sure you use one without tiny holes, e.g. a heavy duty garbage bag.
  8. Physician-assisted suicide

    This the best. They will give you an overdose injection of a sleep-inducing drug like seconal. This is the same way pets are euthanised. It will work even if you stomach is too sensitive to accept food or pills. Unfortunately, in most of the world, the technique is illegal.

Recent Developments

Forced To Endure

The general public seems to imagine that pain can always be controlled, so it is reasonable to force people to stay alive to conform with Christian values.

In my experience even the strongest pain killers do nothing for an infected tooth. Morphine has no effect at all on kidney stones. Medicine can do nothing for the pain of gallstones, but thankfully they can remove your gall bladder. It can do nothing for back pain once your discs are worn down.

Think of your own experiences with pain, and having to live with equivalent level pain week after week. That is torture. Christians have no right to force their beliefs on non-Christians.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

On 2011-11-14 and 2011-11-15 the CBC Radio 1 aired discussion of euthanasia, and allowed phone-in callers. Unlike previous such shows, there was no mention of hell, god, and Jehovah being the slaveowner of all human bodies. Instead the lines were swamped with callers all saying the exact same thing, namely that legal euthanasia was a plot to encourage elder abuse and extorting them of their worldly goods. There was almost no input from the opposing view.

The anti-euthanasia people are primarily motivated by a desire to impose their religious beliefs on others. They discovered such arguments would not fly, so are now pushing a bogus argument that legal euthanasia will lead to increased elder abuse. Nonsense! Obviously there is much more unbiased scrutiny of legal euthanasia than illegal. Further, people rashly attempting suicide will be much less likely to carry through if they go the legal euthanasia route which would necessitate reevaluation and talking it over with a trained counselor.

What it boils down to is, who is in a better position to make wise decisions about my end of life, me or Dr. Will Johnston, (the B.C. spokesman for EPC (Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada)). Who has more at stake? Dr. Johnson or me? Whose business is it anyway? How arrogant he is to claim he knows better than I just how bearable my suffering is. Suffering is multi-dimensional and subjective. Nobody else can possibly know as well as I just how bearable my existence is. Johnston is motivated by religious dogma, but he carefully hides that. He relies almost exclusively on straw man arguments, pretending the debate is about some Hitlerian purge of the disabled without their consent. He advocates under-the-table euthanasia accidental overmedication without any formal consent, since in his legalistic mind the god Jehovah would not count this as murder. Yet he claims a formal procedure to bring physician-assisted suicide out into the light of day will increase abuse. The man is nuts.

This notion that all pain is manageable is ridiculous. Have these meddlesome busybodies never had an infected tooth, a kidney stone or HIV-induced nausea? In my experience, pain laughs at any analgesic modern medicine can throw at it.

Good Life, Gentle Death. David Lewis’s Suicide

photo

Euthanasia in Québec

Physicians in Québec opposed to euthanasia, members of The Physicians’ Alliance for Total Refusal of Euthanasia, have claimed Québec’s bill would legalise murder. This is logically impossible since murder is defined as illegally taking someone’s life. The bill takes some acts to aid a person who requests death from illegal to legal status. It does not, in any way, make mowing someone down with a machine gun legal. Physicians destroy their authority when they resort to such silly, shrill, irrational and fallacious arguments.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

I was present when David Lewis took his life in 1990 to avoid the final stages of AIDS. So many people wrote to the newspapers to pontificate on the event. They had absolutely no clue what it was like. After several weeks of lobbying, the newspapers finally let me tell what actually happened. What follows is what I wrote based on an essay I wrote the night he died:

In recent weeks pundits have pontificated on TV and in the press over David Lewis’s decision to commit suicide rather than face a lingering death. None of these men ever even met David. I was present the night David died. Here is what really happened Friday night 1990-08-24.

In some eyes, David is a coward and a sinner and I am a murderer for not interfering. If you were present, I think you would see it differently.

Before, when I heard people talk of death as a natural and even beautiful part of life, I thought them ghoulish. I still hate death, but now I can at least understand that point of view.

I know that the way David chose is the way I wish to die as well, eventually.

David was terminally ill with AIDS. He had a stroke so one side of his body was paralyzed, he was partially deaf and partially blind. He was incontinent. He could not eat any food without immediately throwing it up. He had a rapidly growing painful brain tumor, He had toxoplasmosis — a festering of the brain. He complained of the nausea and the pain of the brain tumor. He was expected to die within days or weeks.

David did not want to die. He enjoyed his life immensely, even to the very last second. Unfortunately, living was not one of the options. Two of the choices were:

  1. Go into palliative care, go on higher doses of morphine, die naturally with tube up his nose in a hospital, become demented gaga to use his term, probably alone. He would be too weak to take charge of ending of his life no matter how intense the suffering.
  2. Face the ultimate terror — death, surrounded with the comfort of his friends, in his home, with flowers, music, and gentle readings. He could say his last good-byes properly with full emotion. He would have to sacrifice a few days or weeks of suffering. He would have to face the moment of truth when he switched the IV that would eventually kill him.
David repeatedly insisted, "I am not committing suicide. Suicide is when people are emotionally despondent and don’t want to live. I am opposed to suicide. What those people need is counseling. I am a professional counselor. I have helped hundreds of suicidal people come to see that these emotional wounds eventually heal. I don’t want to die. I have to die. All I am doing is adjusting the time of my death a little so that I can die with dignity. This is completely different. We should have a different word for it."

The press have been phoning every few hours over the last week to ask Is he dead yet? The seven men and three women David chose to be with him do not want to be named. They wish to avoid media hassles and the potential of legal action. David wanted his death to have a greater meaning. He hopes his death will make it possible for other terminally ill people to die gently.

David held a barbecue last Sunday. Friends, sexual buddies and relatives came to say goodbye. We laughed and joked, and David told ribald stories of the distant and recent past and how one of his medications made him very horny.

The Friday night was much more subdued. David already had the IV in his arm that he put there himself. It was dripping harmless saline solution.

David kept asking, "What’s going to happen to me after I die? I don’t know, I just don’t know. I’m so scared. Probably nothing. Probably nothing at all — just poof."

I told him about all the myths I knew, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Tibetan etc. One person suggested that perhaps he would meet his lover Jimmy who died of AIDS last year. I wanted so badly for those myths to be true.

We joked that perhaps, like an Egyptian, he should take a small gold cat with him, or some change. Because of the Social Credit policy of making all experimental drugs free except those for AIDS patients, David detested Premier Vander Zalm right to the end. BC is the only province to attempt to reduce its NDP-voting gay population by charging $425 per month for drugs. If possible, David will haunt the premier’s theme park, Fantasy Gardens.

David talked of his experience, many years ago, when he was dead for a short time on the operating table, and how he did not want to come back to life then.

I told David, "Look, you have set up this theatrical event here. You don’t have to go through with it just because we all came. I think you are doing this too soon. I will not interfere. I want this to be 100% your decision. Don’t let anybody rush you. If you want to call this all off, or stall, it is fine with us. "

Other people said similar things, though with more heart. I nearly always sound like a robot.

One guy said, You know this already David. I don’t want you to go. Please stay. Then he just started to cry and cry. We all cried.

David has a huge bed. We sat around it and in it. Someone wiped his forehead. Another massaged his foot. Another held his hand. He rested his head on one of the women’s breasts. David told us how frightened he was. Someone would say, You don’t have to do this. Then he would firmly snap "But I have to! The alternative is too terrible."

We sat in silence. We would cry. David would tell a little joke and we would all giggle. Finally David said, I want you to leave the room. We each hugged him for the last time. David sobbed and clung to us. "I love you so much. I miss you all so much. I hate to leave all this love, but I have to" were his last words.

A few stayed behind. They read from Steven Levine’s Who Dies page 243. Louis Armstrong sang on a tape It’s a Wonderful World. David changed the bag from saline to a sleeping potion. A while later he went peacefully to sleep. A while later he stopped breathing.

David was always the clown. I never saw him sentimental in the twenty years I knew him till that night. David died supremely happy, at first frightened, then peaceful.

David felt unconditionally loved. He received it before, but never felt it inside. When he threw up, no one batted an eyelid. He was still just as lovable. We adored him the way parents adore a new baby. David felt his own love for his friends more deeply then ever before at any time in his life. He made a proper and fitting farewell.

Outside during all this, a beautiful family of strangers stood a candlelight vigil. They held a sign Your life is precious to us, we care, David. In his last hours David talked of his gratitude at the kindness of complete strangers who had sent good wishes or various unusual offers of comfort.

Some of us cleaned him up, put on fresh sheets and clothes. We all came downstairs. Ms. Brutus (his enormous basset hound) jumped up on the bed. David had asked that we allow Ms. Brutus to lick his face. She made snoring noises. I could not help but think David — this is another of your practical jokes. You are not really dead. I can hear you snoring. It was like being five years old waiting as your sibling played dead — holding the breath. I held his arm. It felt cold, but it felt cold ever since the stroke. I felt his forehead. It was very cool. It took a long time for it to sink in that David really was dead. This body was not David. It looked like a respectable middle aged man — not the outrageous David I knew.

Then I began to feel joy. It was as if David was saying to me I’ve escaped. I’m free of the suffering. I feel sorry you guys trapped in your bodies. The real David, if he was anywhere at all, was somewhere else. The corpse seemed like a giant wax puppet, of no further importance.

David had asked that we toast him with Champagne. Nobody felt festive. Eventually we followed orders and toasted David. I took a glass down to him and put a few drops in his mouth. The gesture was irreverent, so I knew David would approve.

Love Roedy

Random Thoughts

Right To Life Misnomer

The KRTLS (Kelowna Right To Life Society) believe in blocking the morning after pill and blocking the right to die when end-of-life suffering has become unbearable. They are motivated by religion and religious sadism. They want to impose their religion on others. In Canada we are supposed to have freedom of religion. The means freedom from the other guy’s religion. They believe in souls/ghosts inhabiting eggs at conception. That is why they hold the strange position that a single cell is equivalent to an adult human even though it is less complex at that stage than a microscopic spec of pond scum. Monty Python spoofed them in a song Every Sperm Is Sacred. They believe in a cruel god Jehovah who will torment people for eternity if they escape end-of-life suffering. They believe their superstition justifies torturing strangers for a few weeks or months to stop them from committing suicide or seeking help committing suicide. The KRTLS are nuts, and they must be prevented from harming others.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

On Sin

The whole conception of Sin is one which I find very puzzling, doubtless owing to my sinful nature. If Sin consisted in causing needless suffering, I could understand; but on the contrary, sin often consists in avoiding needless suffering. Some years ago, in the English House of Lords, a bill was introduced to legalize euthanasia in cases of painful and incurable disease. The patient’s consent was to be necessary, as well as several medical certificates. To me, in my simplicity, it would seem natural to require the patient’s consent, but the late Archbishop of Canterbury, the English official expert on Sin, explained the erroneousness of such a view. The patient’s consent turns euthanasia into suicide, and suicide is sin. Their Lordships listened to the voice of authority, and rejected the bill. Consequently, to please the Archbishop — and his God, if reports truly — victims of cancer still have to endure months of wholly useless agony, unless their doctors or nurses are sufficiently humane to risk a charge of murder. I find difficulty in the conception of a God who gets pleasure from contemplating such tortures; and if there were a God capable of such wanton cruelty, I should certainly not think Him worthy of worship. But that only proves how sunk I am in moral depravity.

~ Bertrand Russell (born: 1872-05-18 died: 1970-02-02 at age: 97) An Outline Of Intellectual Rubbish

Catholic Catechism for All

The Catholic position on this question [physician assisted suicide being legal] is clear, human life is a gift from God. Therefore, as taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2280, We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

~ Richard W. Smith (born: 1959-04-28 age: 55), Archbishop of Edmonton, head of the CCCB (Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Smith freely admits his motivation is purely religious. He wants to force the Catholic catechism on non-believers. Surely the constitution grants me freedom of religion and the freedom to reject his religion.

Just Suck It Up

Think of all those ages through which men have had the courage to die, and then remember that we have actually fallen to talking about having the courage to live.

~ G. K. Chesterton (born: 1874-05-29 died: 1936-06-14 at age: 62)

What do you prove by enduring torture of pancreas cancer? Chesterton seems to think suffering has some value in itself.

Just Suck It Up

Think of all those ages through which men have had the courage to die, and then remember that we have actually fallen to talking about having the courage to live.

~ G. K. Chesterton (born: 1874-05-29 died: 1936-06-14 at age: 62)

What do you prove by enduring torture of pancreas cancer? Chesterton seems to think suffering has some value in itself.

Death Panels

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s death panel so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgement of their level of productivity in society, whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

~ Sarah Palin (born: 1964-02-11 age: 50)

Sarah will spout any crap, no matter how fanciful, if she thinks it will get her on TV. She likes to treat imaginary things like death panels and god as if they were real.

Just Suck It Up

Think of all those ages through which men have had the courage to die, and then remember that we have actually fallen to talking about having the courage to live.

~ G. K. Chesterton (born: 1874-05-29 died: 1936-06-14 at age: 62)

What do you prove by enduring torture of pancreas cancer? Chesterton seems to think suffering has some value in itself.

Disabled Paranoia

A disabled panelist on the CBC argued that the terminally ill should be prevented from taking their lives, (or receiving assistance to), on two grounds:

  1. Everyone must be treated equally. She effectively asserts a teen wanting to kill herself because her boyfriend dumped her or a gay boy whom Christians have convinced has no right to life, whose whole lives are ahead of them, are no different from a terminally ill person with only weeks live in unbearable suffering.
  2. She claims that not blocking the suicides of the terminally ill is a form of discrimination against them. If you don’t interfere with their attempts to avoid unbearable suffering, it means you don’t care about them. This is madness. If you cared, you listen to what they are telling you. You would care more about their unbearable suffering than imposing your backward religious superstitions or slippery slope paranoias on them.

I get so impatient with the disabled, who seem to think that granting others the right to die is equivalent to surrendering their own right to live. They are so selfish and so irrational.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

What Is It Like to Die?

Most of us have experienced general anaesthesia. You go under, and wake up some hours later as if no time had passed. Nothing subjectively happens in the interim. This is close to the experience of death. It is not in the least painful or scary. So why then do people believe fanciful stories concocted by con men about what happens when you die? If you used physician-assisted suicide, the subjective experience is absolutely identical to death since it starts the same way.

~ Roedy (born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)

Advantage of Being A Dog

Dogs do not have many advantages over people, but one of them is extremely important: euthanasia is not forbidden by law in their case; animals have the right to a merciful death.

~ Milan Kundera (born: 1929-04-01 age: 85) The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Books

book cover recommend book⇒Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying, third editionto book home
by Derek Humphry 978-0-385-33653-6 paperback
birth 1930-04-29 age: 84 978-0-9606030-3-9 hardcover
publisher Delta B004TGU1VY kindle
published 2002-11-26
Australian flag abe books anz abe books.co.uk UK flag
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Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.

Videos

Dr. Donald Low, famous SARS doctor click to watch
Anti-euthanasia argument summary
BC Civil Liberties Association position paper
CompassionAndChoices.org née the Hemlock Society
Deathnet
Dignatas Swiss Euthanasia service
Dignitas
DignityInDyning.org.uk née UK Voluntary Euthanasia Society
Dying with Dignity: supreme court challenge
Euthanasia Links
Euthanasia.com
Hilda Krieg: anti-euthanasia advocate
inert gas asphyxiation
Kay Carter’s euthanasia
Kay Carter’s lawsuit
Religious Tolerance site
Right to Die Society
suicide bag

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