High Court Rules That Man Must Prolong His Suffering Instead of Dying with Dignity

Tony Nicklinson, an Englishman, was paralyzed from the neck down after a stroke in 2005:

Tony can’t communicate other than through blinking and he wanted doctors to end his life on his own terms, instead of prolonging his suffering.

Yesterday, though, the High Court ruled that he can’t do that. If doctors let him die before it’s “his time,” they will be prosecuted. Nicklinson was devastated and it’s hard not to tear up seeing his reaction to the decision:

Tony Nicklinson, after hearing the court’s decision (Matt Cardy – Getty Images)

“Although I didn’t want to raise my hopes, it happened anyway because a fantastic amount of work went into my case and I thought that if the court saw me as I am, utterly miserable with my life, powerless to do anything about it because of my disability then the judges would accept my reasoning that I do not want to carry on and should be able to have a dignified death.

“I am saddened that the law wants to condemn me to a life of increasing indignity and misery.”

The British Humanist Association condemns the decision, too:

Andrew Copson BHA Chief Executive, commented ‘We are deeply disappointed by this news for Tony. We fully supported the legal case to establish the right to have a doctor lawfully end his life.

Mentally competent adults should be able to make decisions about their lives, as long as they do not result in harm to others. In cases where a patient is suffering incurably, is permanently incapacitated, and has made a clear and informed decision to end their life but is unable to do so independently, the law should allow a doctor to intervene. We also believe that there is an urgent need for Parliament to legislate on the matter, and to introduce a law which legalises assisted dying while also imposing safeguards to protect the vulnerable.

‘We will continue to support Tony as he appeals this decision and will also continue to call for an ethical and humane law on assisted dying that would protect the vulnerable, but also allow mentally competent adults the right to die with dignity in a time and manner of their own choosing.’

Raymond Tallis, Chair of the group Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying, has an article in the upcoming issue of New Humanist in which he offers rationale for why the law regarding assisted dying must be changed:

The case for a law to legalise the choice of physician-assisted dying for mentally competent people with terminal illness, who have expressed a settled wish to die, is very easily stated. Unbearable suffering, prolonged by medical care, and inflicted on a dying patient against their will, is an unequivocal evil. What’s more, the right to have your choices supported by others, to determine your own best interest, when you are of sound mind, is sovereign. And this is accepted by a steady 80-plus per cent of the UK population in successive surveys.

Without knowing the legal system overseas, this doesn’t appear to be the court’s fault. They’re just doing their jobs. But it’s up to English lawmakers to correct this injustice. It may be a politically incorrect topic, but it’s an important one. For all the thought given to the politics regarding birth and conception, we don’t pay much attention to end-of-life issues.

(via New Humanist)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Tim

    “Without knowing the legal system overseas, this doesn’t appear to be the court’s fault. They’re just doing their jobs. But it’s up to English lawmakers to correct this injustice.  ”

    Analysis and conclusion is spot on. 

    • Chris Blackmore

      The trouble is, our “lawmakers” are a bunch of gutless money fanatics who are not even remotely interested in introducing new laws, because they are far too busy protecting the rich from taxes.

  • Sindigo

    Fuck the British court system. I wish I could think of a more erudite way of putting it but vocabulary fails me. My wife and I both cried when we saw the news yesterday. I’m going to contact the BHA and see if there’s anything we can do.

    • Tim

      It isn’t the court system at fault.  They apply the law and are not able to do anything else.  It is the law makers who are at fault – Fuck the UK Parliment

      • David

        Tim is quite right – the result was what I expected (but did not want).

        This is a nettle that our current coalition government is unlikely to grasp.

        It is a can of worms to give a doctor permission to kill someone – as opposed to give adequate pain relief when there is pain – and that pain relief may hasten death because of side effects. There is evidence that doctors don’t want this burden.

        As I understand it, because he is not able to actually take medicines unaided, he can’t even go to Switzertland to Digitas to take an overdose of Barbiturates.

        Opinion is changing but it is slow.

        As an aside to other Brits – I wonder what Lord Denning would have done??!!
        (He was a senior judge some 20-30 years ago who often seemed to make it up as he went in the ‘common good’ rather than slavishly follow case law.)

      • Sindigo

        You’re right. Fuck the UK parliament indeed.

  • si_tibi_placet

    Absolutely disgusting.  End of life issues are so very important and  I wish more attention were paid to them.
     

  • IanNorman

    Come to Switzerland. We can die in dignity here.

    • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

      I’ve heard that many people travel to Switzerland to end their lives with dignity.

      • IanNorman

        There are two organisations, Exit and Dignitas. Exit is the better organisation, Dignitas seems to be run by some, hm, how can I put this without getting sued, some people with questionable ethics. Sadly Exit does not offer services for everyone: Eligible for membership in EXIT are only persons of the age of legal majority with either permanent residence in Switzerland or Swiss citizenship.
        Dignitas http://www.dignitas.ch/index.php?lang=en is more open but as I have said, has some non-ethical persons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dignitas_(assisted_dying_organisation).

        • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

          Thanks for the  links.

          • IanNorman

            Glad to help, if you need more information, just ask.

            • David

              But as I mention above, I understand that even with Digitas you have to be able to physically take the medicine youself.

              • IanNorman

                 The German version goes into a bit more detail, but here the Enlish one: “When the medication is being administered, assistance is permitted as long as it does not in any way lead to someone else administering the medication. For instance, holding a glass containing a straw is allowed, but tipping the glass so that the liquid runs into the mouth is not. Careful attention is paid so that the
                «onus of the deed» remains on the member and is in no way transferred to
                either of the DIGNITAS escorts or any other person present. ”
                “In jedem Fall muss das Mitglied aus rechtlichen Gründen den letzten Akt –
                also Trinken, durch die Magensonde einspritzen oder das Ventil der
                Infusion öffnen – selber vornehmen können. Ist dies nicht möglich, kann
                DIGNITAS leider nicht helfen.”
                So you still need to be able to swallow, use the valve of  an IV or handle a feeding tube.

  • http://twitter.com/JJtheTVnewsguy James Jackson

    Is there any possibility Mr. Nicklinson can be taken to a country (Canada?) with right-to-die laws, where a doctor could mercifully end his suffering? Forgive me if I sound flippant, but if I was a member of this man’s family I would be tempted to take him out to sea, give him a fatal dose of medication provided there by a doctor, and dump his body in front of a group of friendly witnesses who would all tell the authorities the same story, which was that he wanted to go sailing and he fell off the boat when it hit a big wave. It is of course tragic that we live in a world where such bizarre circumstances as the hypothetical I described would even be necessary.

    • Michael

      Only if he can travel without assistance. Anyone knowingly helping him with this plan can be prosecuted upon their return to the UK. This is the part of the law he wanted overturned.

      • Vukota

        What if someone from outside the UK, who has no desire to ever go back there, took him? Would that not be foolproof?

        • http://twitter.com/BrookLaa Andrew Brookfield

          Possible extradition treaties may come into play due to all countries (I believe) where it is legal are within the EU – as is the UK.

          And probably the family who cares for him (and are therefore in charge of his well-being) would be considered conspirators as they relinquished him and it would be near impossible to give a reasonable explanation as to why.Also: where, who, how?If it were your friend/brother/father/whoever would you be in a position to do that right now, as you stand?

          • Vukota

            I was thinking of a good samaritan outside the UK (say from the US), who has absolutely no connection to the family, visiting the UK and then bringing him to a country where euthanasia is legal. I suppose that wouldn’t work though if it’s true that Mr. Nicklinson’s family could be charged as co-conspirators. 

            • Michael

              The USA has some interesting extradition treaties with the UK.

              Maybe an Icelander could do it.

    • http://twitter.com/BrookLaa Andrew Brookfield

      Yeah the problem is the term “assisted suicide”.

      Those who helped would be charged and imprisoned.

      I don’t think it’s made clear here – my understanding of the story (and the laws of the UK) is that he was basically applying to have his family/friends take him to a country where euthanasia is legal without fear of legal repercussions for an assisted suicide upon the return of the family/friends.

      He would not be allowed under any circumstances to commit suicide (with assistance – which he would clearly need) anywhere in the UK.

  • http://twitter.com/WCLPeter Rob U

    I said this two days ago and I’ll say it again:

    You know what I don’t do?  I don’t treat my pets with more humanity and compassion than people.

    When a pet breaks it back or gets terminal cancer and starts suffering organ failures, we euthanize to keep it from having to go through all that needless pain and suffering.  We talk about how its inhumane to allow such suffering, even if the decision to end its life is difficult, because its the only right thing we can do.  That it would be immoral to inflict such needless, lifelong, pain on a beloved pet solely for our emotional benefit.

    Then, in the same breath, we as a society will champion the cause of forcing people to live a lifetime of excruciating pain and agony with no hope of recovery simply because people are “special” and if we’re pious enough our imaginary friends will save them.

    Its a sad statement on our society that we’ll treat our pets better than a person who is suffering needlessly.

    Its deplorable Mr. Nicklinson will be forced to spend the rest of his days as a prisoner, trapped within his own body, potentially enduring decades of endless and unimaginable suffering for no good reason.

    We, as a society, show more compassion and empathy toward our pets!

    • houndies

      rob u. i really like your post. i hope you dont mind i shared you’re statement on my facebook page. your words about how we treat our pets vs. how we treat humans are so true.

  • http://twitter.com/moother moother

    seems these pro-lifers are very much pro-suffering too…

    is the only reason for this because religion has made them evil?

    • Travshad

      Probably not.  I am not religious and I don’t generally support euthanasia.  I believe the court not only ruled correctly, but I agree with the underlying law.

      • matt

         Why?

      • Baby_Raptor

        You agree that people of sound mind should not be able to decide that they would rather end their lives peacefully than live with suffering and decaying quality of life for who knows how long? 

        That’s just sick. What makes you think you have the right to decide for someone what they should be able to do with their own life?

  • Annlumax

    Maybe he or groups that support him should sue for the judges to pay for all his medical and personal care bills.

  • Xfileluv

    So sad. I imagine there are doctors working with Tony who wish to uphold their duty to “do no harm” and realize that by continuing to treat him, they are doing just that (causing harm). One of the most humane acts we conduct is euthanizing a pet when it is suffering and incapable of  enjoying any quality of life; if only we could adopt the same attitude toward humans who wish to be given the same choice.

    • NeedingMoreFacts

      I’m OK with what you said, but I don’t agree with the comparison.  In America, the government euthanizes pets if they’re suffering, and when they’re not suffering (over-crowded shelters, for example).  I also disagree with the comparison because we’re talking about a human being.  I don’t agree with keeping a person alive against their clearly stated will.

      • amycas

        Xfileluv was specifically talking about euthanizing pets that are “suffering and incapable of enjoying any quality of life.” The fact that we also euthanize pets in over-crowded shelters is a separate issue and, quite frankly, a red herring. A person can agree with euthanizing a suffering pet and disagree with kill-shelters at the same time.

        Also, human beings are animals. Granted, we are highly specialized. We are animals that are able to make our needs and wants clear and explicit. When somebody clearly says they want to die with dignity and we deny them, then we are treating them as less than all other animals. For someone like yourself who seems to think calling humans animals is some sort of insult, that attitude should seem even more insulting to you.

        • NeedingMoreFacts

          “For someone like yourself who seems to think calling humans animals is some sort of insult, that attitude should seem even more insulting to you.”Wait, when did I say I was insulted?  And, note, I said I agreed with him being able to end his life with dignity. 

  • Gus Snarp

    I’d have thought the British were ahead of us Yanks on this issue. 

    • http://twitter.com/BrookLaa Andrew Brookfield

      Dude, we still have directly government-funded religious schools. Muslim, Sikh, Christian and possibly Jewish. Our Government is a pushover for that kind of stuff.

      We just kind of don’t care about it, I suppose (the funding that is) because religion is kind of like Ted in the following picture, and everyone else is Mark Wahlberg:

      http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/2012/06/Ted_Film_Still_a_l.jpg 

  • The Other Weirdo

    Without knowing the legal system overseas, this doesn’t appear to be the
    court’s fault. They’re just doing their jobs. But it’s up to English
    lawmakers to correct this injustice. It may be a politically incorrect
    topic, but it’s an important one. For all the thought given to the
    politics regarding birth and conception, we don’t pay much attention to
    end-of-life issues.

    This last paragraph completely undoes the emotional manipulation you attempted in the rest of the post. You admit you don’t know anything about their legal system, you admit the court is just doing its job, and yet you still make the hyperbolic charge that the court specifically and purposely made people suffer needlessly.

    I’ve noticed a pattern lately of emotionally manipulative posts here, something I’d normally expect from Christians. Is something bad going on in your life?

    • Paul_Robertson

      Where did Hement level that accusation? I think you’re strawmanning there champ.

      • The Other Weirdo

         The title of  this article is a dead giveaway.

        • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

          This is the straw-man: “and yet you still make the hyperbolic charge that the court specifically and purposely made people suffer needlessly.”

          Hemant said no such thing. Not even the title is evidence of this. The courts ruled a certain way, and that’s what the title says. In no way did Hemant say what the underlying purpose behind the ruling was; he didn’t say that the “court specifically and purposely” did it for the express purpose of prolonging his suffering. They just happened to rule that way.

    • amycas

       Where was the emotional manipulation? None of Hemant’s words accused the courts of anything other than holding up an unjust law. He quoted Tony and his supporters however, and even they did not use emotional manipulation.

  • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

    That picture is heartwrenching.  Just devastating.  It simply blows my mind that, despite all the people out there in similar situations (or having witnessed them), we don’t allow human beings to die with dignity.  To echo Rob U, we consider forcing our dogs or cats to live in suffering and pain to be unconscionable, but don’t extend the same option to people.  I have seen a relative and a dear friend, both in terminal situations but sound of mind, beg to be allowed to die on their own terms…and I’m only 30.  This is something that affects almost all of us, one way or another, at some point in our lives, and yet our society (America, anyway) considers it some sort of sacred elephant in the room, not to be challenged or discussed in anything above a whisper.  Life at all costs isn’t life…it’s a cruel, false extension of desperately wishing for what used to be.

    • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

      (America anyway)…and clearly England too.

  • Joshua White

    Pro-lifers love to confront us with pictures of embryos. This mans face should be all over Facebook.

    • NeedingMoreFacts

      The difference between an embryo and this man, is that this man can express his desire to die.  Aborted embryos aren’t given that option. 

      • The Captain

        It’s because they have no mouth, thoughts, or brain yet, so duh they can’t express anything. My old car didn’t have those things either so it couldn’t express it’s desire to go to the junk yard so I had to make that decision for it, same thing.

        • NeedingMoreFacts

          Good to know you view human life in the same way you view a used car.  Thanks for the insight!

          • The Captain

            It’s not a “human life” until it has a human brian. Learn what words mean! Thanks for the insight into stupidity.

            • The Captain

              HA! Auto correct changed “brain” to “brian” Somehow that made it really funny.

          • YuriNalarm

            No he views non human unestablished life the same as a car.

            • sunburned

              I think what your looking for is *potential human life*.

          • The Captain

            But yea, I view a embryo and a used car in the same way since neither are “human”. And if you think an embryo without a brain is “human” fine, your right to be a simpleton, BUT you have no right to force that ridiculous belief on me!

      • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

        I feel like Captain Obvious here, but I’m fairly certain embryos aren’t given that option because they’re completely incapable of thought.  Seeing as we don’t allow most citizens to make personal legal decisions until the age of 18 (with a few exceptions for severely dysfunctional families), those decisions are deferred to the parents.  Hence, a pregnant woman’s choice stands in for that of a non-sentient being.

        • NeedingMoreFacts

          So, what’s the difference between, say a 6 month old born prematurely, and a 6 month old in the womb?  Obviously, it’s that one is inside the womb, and one is no longer in the womb.  Yet, the one inside the womb, you can kill.  The one outside, not so much.

          • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

            1) A 6-month-old isn’t an embryo.  Not even close.

            2) Later-term abortion is performed in the interest of the mother’s health. Being clear, “abortion” means ending a pregnancy, not neccesarily killing the fetus.  If the 6-month-old fetus isn’t suffering from serious birth defects or some condition that’s putting the mother’s life at risk, “abortion” in this case most likely means a live birth.

            • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

              (Edited for leaving a word out…whoops.)

          • JohnnieCanuck

            And yet, depending on the country, babies born a few weeks earlier than 6 months will not be resuscitated.

            Also very few abortions are done at 6 months and later, unless there is a medical reason.

            Do you argue this way because you think the only important thing is that something attached a soul to the cell at conception? You, I and all babies are soulless creatures, believe me.

          • Baby_Raptor

            Other than all the developmental differences? 

            The fact that a 6 month old infant is no longer using a person as an incubator. *Any* person can care for a 6 month old infant if the mother can’t. A fetus 6 months into pregnancy can’t be magically moved to a willing uterus if the woman that’s pregnant does not want to be for whatever reason. 

      • amycas

         But the fully grown woman carrying the embryo can clearly express her wish to not be pregnant. Gee, I guess people just have a habit of completely ignoring the bodily autonomy of adults.

        • NeedingMoreFacts

          Generally, fully grown women can decide to have sex, too.  Or be on birth control.  Or have their partner wrap it up.

          • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

            …or become pregnant because the guy raped her, or the condom broke, or the chemicals didn’t work, or a million other things.

            Your efforts to control the bodies of women speaks to how entitled you feel to those same bodies you and your ilk are.

          • sunburned

            That is truly a horrific stance.  Forced incubation  is the punishment for some perceived negligence?  Gah

      • Baby_Raptor

        Well, that would be because embryos aren’t people. They aren’t even close to being people. And even if they were, they don’t trump the rights of the woman they’re using as an incubator. 

        Next?

  • http://twitter.com/BrookLaa Andrew Brookfield

    Yeah, fucked up.

    Hopefully he can find funds/ means of transport to get to – I believe it’s Amsterdam, where he’d be able to die with dignity.
    Does remind me of my Nan though – she wasn’t physically paralysed, just Alzheimer’s and couldn’t really move too far. (I’m English too if it wasn’t clear).

    The last 6 months of her life, she literally ate maybe a spoonful of food every couple of weeks and sips of water now and then – we forced it down her unknowing that it was prolonging her suffering unfortunately. Her mind was FAR gone by this point – it progressed really rapidly over those 6 months.

    Anyway, during the 6 months, we had nurses come and administer her morphine for her pain – morphine which ended up finishing her off through increasing the dosage regularly (though sad, definitely for the best).

    Anyway, I suppose the point I’m trying to make is her death certificate stated she “died of Alzheimer’s” as opposed to “Morphine overdose” or “Malnutrition”.

    The doctor’s agree with euthanasia, they just can’t be open about it legally! Our doctor was the one who told us to stop force-feeding her and let her go when she was ready! The same one who prescribed the morphine/increased doses.

    My Nan was legally euthanised and thank fuck for that is all I can say.

    Make it legal. The arguments against pale in comparison to the arguments for – look at Tony’s face, for fuck’s sake! It’s sickening.

    Also, I think Rob U put it very eloquently.

    • Tainda

      My aunt was just like me, crazy and had a weird sense of humor, always laughing.  When she was 55 she had a stroke and it totally wiped her personality out and she was paralyzed on her right side.  She went from loving life to a blank slate for the most part and had to have someone help her do everything.

      I honestly think she willed herself to die because she just couldn’t live like that.

  • SJH

    I am very sad for this man and those that are close to him. What an extremely difficult situation. I hope that those close to him can find it in their hearts to share with him such an overabundance of love that he begins to value the life that he must live. That would be a beautiful sight, that a person living such a life would actually be happy and filled with joy despite his condition. Seems extremely difficult but it is possible.

    • Pandurata

      As well-meaning as this comment is, it also irritates me somehow.
      What, if everyone around him tried to love him just a little more, then all his problems would no longer seem to be so bad and he might find the will to live again?!? Love him some more and things will be alright? To me that just sounds terribly condescending. As if he and his loved ones had not thought of that before? As if it’s someone’s fault for not doing enough so that he can enjoy his life?There are some issues “love” cannot fix! And from what I have read about him, there is no reason to believe that he is not being loved! Has it occurred to you that even though he is loved, he no longer wants to suffer to the extend that he currently is and can expect for the future? I am certain that there is joy in his life, but for him it is outweighed by the issues he is facing.He has made a conscious decision based on his experience and none of us who are not in his place should dare to belittle this man and down-play his agony which has led him to this point in his life. 

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      “Possible” isn’t enough to ameliorate the extreme suffering this poor man is enduring. You’re not in his head, so don’t suppose or assume anything for him. Do him the courtesy of taking him at his word, that he wants to die, that living is agony.

    • JohnnieCanuck

      What Pandurata said, but to make it more explicit; your suggestion can be seen to be enabling the blaming of his relatives and friends for not showing him enough love. If only they weren’t so hard hearted, he wouldn’t be suicidal.

      That’s not victim blaming so much as gratuitously victimising people.

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      Maybe they should pray really hard too? Your suggestion/comment are as well-meaning and useless as prayer.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Wow. Condescending, much?

  • PurpleThinker

    So the UK deems that keeping a child on life support (see the story Hemant posted a couple of days ago about parents torturing their mortally ill, incurable son by praying for a miracle: it was decreed a possible violation of EU ethics for causing pain, loss of dignity, etc) is cruel torture, extending pain/suffering and more….yet an aware, capable adult who suffers from pain, loss of dignity, limited/no quality of life can be refused an end to his own life in a peaceful, medically assisted way. Anyone else completely baffled by this?

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      *raises a paw*

      Totally. Confused.

    • Paul_Robertson

       The distinction is between killing someone and allowing them to die. Unfortunately for Tony Nicklinson, he appears to be able to live without medical assistance, meaning that he can’t simply die from withdrawal of medical care; leaving him with starvation as his only legal option.
      I do have a small degree of sympathy for the case against euthanasia laws; balancing freedom to die with protection for those who do not wish to die is an unenviable task. There will always be people who fall just outside the coverage of the law and there will always be pleadings to extend the scope of the law. Maintaining an inviolable Rubicon must be tempting. But because we cannot make the law perfect is no excuse not to improve it. Other countries have had assisted suicide laws for a long time now and the ground has not opened up to swallow them.

  • Vend Tana

    “The Diving Bell & the Butterfly” is probably not this guy’s favorite movie.

    I agree with his right to die but I don’t know if dragging it into court and involving his doctors is the best way to go about it. He could figure out a way to do it himself, he could ask friends or relatives to do it, he could put an ad on craigslist…

    There are lots of ways to kill yourself.

    OTOH, maybe he should watch the vids by Tisha Unarmed and he might realize he DOES have (potentially) a great deal of life left to live. He clearly has a good mind, still. He could try using it for a while, see what happens. 

    • ImRike

       Yes, right!
      His mind is all he has left and I bet he IS using it 24/7 – to what end? He can’t tell anybody about it, can’t discuss anything, can’t write it down. He is unable to turn the pages of a book, so even if he was able to read, he would have to have a permanent page turner (or mouse clicker on an e-reader). When he hears people talk, he cannot agree or disagree, he can’t even tell them to fuck off! He already has used his mind for quite a while and has seen what happens!
      I wouldn’t even wish it on you!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

      You must have missed that part where it said he was paralyzed from the waist down. The reason he wants to die is also the reason he can’t kill himself. But yeah, he should totally have a friend kill him and then leave that friend to be charged with murder.
      Even if he could do it himself, most ways would be extremely unpleasant. Say your dog has to be put down. What do you choose? Hang it, drown it, push it off a building, cut it’s arteries, or put it to sleep with medication?
      Yeah…that’s what I though.

  • Margaret Whitestone

    Shameful.  It’s his life, and he should be allowed to decide what to do with it. 

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Dammit, humanity, YOU CAN BE BETTER THAN THIS!

    We had a cat euthanized a few years back. Kidney failure. It would have been cruel to prolong her pain. It is no less cruel to prolong the pain of a dying human, especially when that human has clearly expressed his wishes to the contrary.

  • Reading Frame

    I was a veterinary technician for 6 years. I worked with critically ill patients as well as emergency situations. I wish we had been able to apply good judgement to animals that were kept alive by our efforts (IV, medication, incubators, oxygen) when it was obvious that the only thing keeping the animal alive was that the owner refused to allow us to euthanize. Animals like that are suffering and in pain. Palliative care only goes so far. 

    So with humans.

    I cannot recommend Terry Pratchett’s documentary on right-to-die decisions strongly enough. Disturbing but also beautiful, in that terminally ill people were allowed to die with dignity, close to the people they loved, and quietly. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

    Thanks to the UK law the judges in this case had NO option to rule in his favor.  The UK legal system allows no room for “judicial interpretation” in this type of case. The law, as passed by Parliament, is clear and they must abide by that, no matter what the wishes of Tony are or whether or not they think the law is wrong.
    Secondly the doctors in this case are similarly bound by strict laws and the regulations enforced by their own professional regulatory body. In the UK the GMC and other medical profession regulators interpret the rules and regulations strictly and strike off any practitioner who breaks the rules. Assisted suicide is strictly prohibited, as is knowingly turning a blind eye to attempts by friends and relatives to carry out such an act. A doctor or nurse who did that would themself be liable not only to being struck off, but also charged under criminal law as being a facilitating party to murder.
    The Liberal Democrat and Labor Parties are sympathetic to the national mindset on this and have stated they will try to get the laws re-examined and changed. The stealth theocrats that are the Conservatives have stated they will never support any such change, and for now, they are running the hen house. For now…..
    Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld novels, did a heartbreaking documentary about this subject as at some point he may be in Tony’s shoes….you can find it on YouTube.
    After one of my grandfathers spent 6 months in agony dying from cancer my mum and dad made me promise that I wouldn’t allow them to ever suffer like that. Its a promise I hope  I never have to keep, but I am damn sure that if the time came Id find a way of keeping it.
    My heart bleeds for Tony and his family, because its at times like these we all by association with such ridiculous unjust laws become just a little bit less human than we want to be. Jack Kevorkian was right, this must stop.


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