Gina Makes the Case For Death With Dignity With Just Four Utterly Convincing Words

Gina is an agnostic woman in New Zealand who has has a genetic order that’s severely weakening her muscles. She is completely bed-ridden and can no longer speak. Sounds hurts her ears, and light does the same to her eyes, so she lies in the dark, in silence, waiting for the end.

A three-minute mini-documentary about Gina shows her communicating by touch alphabet. And though she has lost her physical voice, she gets her message across with startling clarity.


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Obituaries of Russian LGBT People Can Hold Heartbreaking Clues About Why They Died

When a reasonably prominent Russian man dies in a crime, writes Masha Gessen in the New York Times, there can be a certain art to reading the victim’s obituaries. If they mention that he was found murdered in his own home, and there was no sign of a break-in, that can be code for something disturbing.

When this happens to someone well-known enough to warrant numerous written remembrances, the writers usually refer not to a killing but to a “tragic death” — as though it were not a criminal but a personal trait that caused the person’s demise. What they mean is that the deceased was gay and apparently died at the hands of someone he brought home.


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An Obituary for Jesus

Sam Roberts, who normally writes obituaries for the New York Times, decided to write one for Jesus.


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The Son of a Pakistani Politician Killed by a Muslim Extremist Reflects After a Disturbing Funeral

In 2009, a Christian woman named Aasiya Noreen (a.k.a. Asia Bibi, below) got in a fight with Muslim co-workers over shared water. They said it was unclean because Noreen was Christian. An argument ensued during which Noreen said she would not covert to Islam, a statement her co-workers took as an insult to their faith and the Prophet Muhammad.

It wasn’t long before a Pakistani judge sentenced her to death. I repeat: They said she should die because some Muslim women felt she insulted their faith. (Thankfully, her execution hasn’t taken place yet, as her appeals process is still ongoing. The next hearing is scheduled for later this month.)

That brings us to Salmaan Taseer, a Pakistani businessman and politician, who was one of the people on Bibi’s side this whole time. He publicly criticized the blasphemy law and condemned the archaic thinking that led to her sentencing. And on January 4, 2011, Taseer was assassinated.

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The Birth of the “Death with Dignity” Movement

As tough as it may be to write about death, it’s one of the only truly universal topics. And yet people have very different ideas about what constitutes a “good” death. Is it smarter to remove a feeding tube from someone who has no chance of recovery? At what point should quality of life for the elderly be given more priority than the length of it? How should we talk about the subject?

Journalist and hospice volunteer Ann Neumann delves into all of these questions in her new book The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America (Beacon Press, 2016):


In the excerpt below, Neumann discusses how acknowledging the pain of others led to the rise of the “death with dignity” movement:

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