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Poll: Euthanasia: Moral or Immoral?

Moral under any circumstances 9 (11%)
Moral concerning terminal illness 53 (67%)
Indifferent 13 (16%)
Immoral under any circumstances 4 (5%)
   Discussion: Euthanasia: Moral or Immoral?
Starfox · 17 years, 3 months ago
I'm not sure I view it strictly as an issue of morality. While I don't believe suicide is moral, I can definitely see the case for it when there is no hope of recovery from a painful terminal illness or in the case someone is in a vegetative state.

For me it always comes back to individual choice. If we cannot decide when we want our lives to end, then we are not free. It's a personal choice which does not infringe on the rights of anyone else, so I don't see it as an issue of legal/illegal.
Wintress · 17 years, 3 months ago

I didn't see the "moral, dependent upon individual circumstances" option. I can think of people who have debilitating medical issues who don't fall under the "terminal illness" or "vegetative life" category, but definitely can be categorized as "suffering chronic pain." Some diseases aren't necessarily going to result in death in X time, but will render the person in such incredible pain that they can only "function" if seriously drugged. Not quite vegetative, but not a quality life.

But then again, who am I to choose for someone else whether they should live or not?

stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago

> But then again, who am I to choose for someone else whether they should live > or not?

I think this is why it's vital that people who don't want to be kept alive when incapacitated in such a way discuss the matter with their family members, particularly with anyone who might have power of attorney or be in a position to sign off on do-not-resuscitate orders and make other treatment decisions. People should never have to feel that they're "choosing" for someone whom they have known and loved as a capable adult -- they should be able to feelthat they're honoring that person's wishes in the matter, whatever they are, as expressed at a time when that person was capable of making a lucid statement. But if families don't talk about the issue, then everyone's in a dither when something tragic occurs, or when a chronicallyincapacitated person deteriorates to the point where they cannotexpress their wishes with a clear mind and clear intent.

And then there are thefamilies that explicitly refuse to honor a chronically or terminally ill person'sdesire not to continuea life of increasing pain and decreasing functionality with no promise of relief. I find the idea of standing in the way of a peaceful death that iswelcomed with acceptance by the patient,and insteadinsisting on continued medical intervention and pain, to be particularly grotesque and disrespectful. Whose life is it, anyway?

Gordondon son of Ethelred · 17 years, 3 months ago
One of those things that is difficult to give a yes or no answer to. A case where I'd say yes to is terminally ill and extreme suffering. Part of the problem is coming up with a workable system of deterimining when it is appropriate. Things have gotten much better in the last decade or so but in the U.S. we still don't do enough to alleviate pain through the use of drugs. Heroine should be legal for the terminally ill.

Then there are the cases like the one in the news now. That is totally different. If someone is in a persistant vegatative state then I have no qualms about pulling the plug. That is what I would want for myself and anyone I cared for. When everything that makes a person who he or she is, is gone, then it is pointless to keep the empty shell alive.
Bel kjfdxcvuyjh8 Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Good points.

Us Canadians can smoke maryjane if we can covince them we're sick anough, eh.

Heroine should be legal for the terminally ill? It just about is, isn't it? Aren't there all kinds of painkillers made from opiates?

Correct me if I'm wrong, though. I really don't know as much as I pretend to.:p
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
I think it's criminal that medical use of marijuana is still such a controversy in the States. People are suffering and being weakened when there's a safe, nonaddictive means of relieving pain and decreasing physical wasting. It's incredibly stupid and short-sighted.

As for opiates, yes lots of painkillers are in that family, but they're all distributed by prescription only, and often at dosages too low to be effective. Some hospitals use on-demand distribution of painkillers and have seen positive results -- the patients feel more empowered and are thus likely to be in a better frame of mind, and they actually use less medication of their own volition than patients who receive staff-regulated doses request. So much for people automatically becoming addicted to opiates when they're used because of medical need.

That said, I'm not sure heroin is the best choice for that kind of use. I think morphine is less addictive and more suitable for self-regulating medication.

However, the ethical issue with using morphine *is* overdose. So as long as that remains an ethical and legal problem for doctors and other caregivers, it probably would not be given in a self-regulating way unless patients first meet psychological standards for not being inclined to commit suicide/euthanize themselves with it.

That said, morphine is widely used in hospice care as both a painkiller and ultimately to ease the patient through the final stages of illness. At that point it is essentially a euthanizing drug, because when the patient is that frail and compromised, the therapeutic dose is a lethal amount.



Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
I've been on the on-demand regimen of morphine and have nothing but praise for it. When you are using it for pain you don't get high from it. I have never used any recreational drug except for alcohol and never enough of that to get drunk.

Heroine is the most effective analgesic. It is also the most addictive drug but that really isn't an issue for terminal patients. If I was dying a cancer and was in pain, I wouldn't want to die if it were possible for me to control the pain.
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
sort-of related article here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18086-2003Oct25.html

Apparently OxyContin is virtually indistinguishable from heroin. Which as you point out, is irrelevant to terminal patients, but nonterminal persons in chronic pain might want to think twice before becoming a Rush.

My only concern, if I were a terminal patient in that kind of pain, would be: is the supply of the drug stable? Because if I'm going to get addicted as a consequence of easing my mortal pain, I sure as hell wouldn't want to have to suffer withdrawal symptoms on top of everything else I was going through. And drug supply stability has become a big issue in some areas of the US due to black-market prescription filling. The people who send all that spam promising prescription drugs online, no questions asked, are a major reason that hospitals don't have an adequate supply of drugs.
Jºnªthªn Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
I had a recent bout of severe back pain, for which I needed surgery. I had to take a LOT of pain meds, mostly vicodin, but also some oxycontin. I didn't get any buzz out of it, and after surgery, when the pain went away, I stopped taking it.

I guess my point is that people in chronic pain aren't drug addicts - it's the people who keep taking them after the pain is gone that become drug addicts.
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Good point re: addiction. I guess my question is, at what point does a patient need to be "weaned" off the drug he has been taking for pain, as discussed in the Washington Post article, instead of just stopping it? Because "weaning" to me implies a dependency that needs to be broken, and that can be a hellish process.

I'm glad I've never needed heavy-duty painkillers or muscle relaxants for a chronic condition. I've had them prescribed for specific acute conditions, but never for more than a week or two at a time.
Jºnªthªn Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
it was a little over 3 months.
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Did you have any problems stopping the meds?

I don't mean to pry, but there are so many cases of people having real problems with painkillers that they originally had prescribed for legitimate reasons -- from Betty Ford on down to Rush Limbaugh -- and I wonder what are the risks really are if you use them strictly as directed while under a doctor's attentive care.
Pacho · 17 years, 3 months ago
but for those saying heroine (a woman noted for courage and daring action)... well, i think you mean heroin (a white odorless bitter crystalline compound)

:)
Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
I'm homophonically challenged.
Jºnªthªn Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
I read that as homophobically challenged...
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
i'm homophobically challenged.
Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
What is stranger is that I did the same thing and I wrote it.
Mamalissa! Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
And I, in high school, submitted a term paper on the books of Kate Chopin, entitled "Chopin's Heroins: Women Who Change." The teacher was amused.

At least they didn't "chang."
emilie is CRANKY · 17 years, 3 months ago

*brain explodes*

nothing to see here. move along, please. :D

Jºnªthªn · 17 years, 3 months ago
The recent suicide of a much loved singer with a history of drug and alcohol problems shows what a difficult issue euthanasia for those without terminal illness is. Should we intervene in the case of someone who doesn't want to live, and may be in chronic emotional pain? Should someone be forced to take psych meds, or go to therapy to "cure" them? Can someone with a mental illness like depression make an informed choice?
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Many advocates of those who suffer from depression would argue yes, because unlike other mental illnesses, there is no psychosis involved. But it's a horrible dilemma for anyone who cares about someone so afflicted. Does the inability to experience or appreciate pleasure, joy, beauty or self-worth prevent someone from making an "informed choice" about the quality of life? Or are they capable of making a truly objective assessment of the situation, and are the interveners being selfish and arrogant about their views on life when they take steps to ensure that person stays "safe" against their will?
J. Andrew World · 17 years, 3 months ago

How else will young people learn about Asia? I mean if they can't go there, how will they learn! And we have to talk to someone about there spelling! That is *NOT* how you spell Youth in Asia!

Gordondon son of Ethelred · 17 years, 3 months ago
Does anyone else find it strange that this hot button topic has generated so little debate?
Talcott Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
yeah, I was a bit suprised too.

Which either means it's not a big topic for folks here, or it is for some people, and they don't feel like arguing about it *shrug*
no one Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Yes, it is a bit weird, considering that an earlier poll concerning the weighty issue of women and shaving attracted almost twice the number of posts. Then again, the poll on suicide attracted 122 contributions. Could it have something to do with the relatively young age of most of the members on this site? Suicide and appearance seem to be hot topics early in life. Euthanasia doesn't seem a hot button topic affecting individuals personally, until one is maybe 50 years old, having to grapple with the issue of very closely related geriatrics of the previous generation.

After all my waffling, let me say this: I'm in favour of euthanasia in cases where a person has become a vegetable, only kept biologically alive by our medical technology and without any prospect of recovery, but I am also aware of the possibility for its abuse humourously pointed out by an episode in a Monty Python movie.

"Bring out your dead."
Nick Collins · 17 years, 3 months ago

I am pleased that many of you have entered your opinions to this post. According to the Hemlock Society, the United State's largest pro-euthanasia and assisted suicide advocate, there are two different kinds of suicide. Emotional, which is triggered by an emotional dillemma or similar (my girlfriend/boyfriend left me), and justifiable suicide, the termination of a life who has no chance of recovery from a terminal illness and is in terrible pain. I would like to note that when I chose this topic for a forum, I in no way am advocating emotional suicide. However, I am for the idea of justifiable suicide under very tight circumctances. It is the choice of the patient (if possible) to continue or end their own life in my opinion. If the patient is unable to make the descision, (coma), then I really cannot answer, or even attempt to answer this moral dillemma, but if a terminally ill person with no chance of recovery and is in horrible pain, AND is in the best interest of the physician and family members, I believe it is moral. Forgive me, I did not mean to preach, but this topic is very important to me.

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