>No easy way out.
>It’s not often I disagree with the Ambush Predator, and not because of the teeth and claws but because I usually find myself nodding at what she has to say. But while I was picking though the bones outside her cave I found something that she’s left some meat on.
“Life clocks are a lie! Carousel is a lie! There is no renewal!”
Much kudos for the Logan’s Run reference there, O feasome toothed one. This is going to be about the state offing old people then, yes?
Er… actually, no. Not really.
Mixed feelings about this move:
The Royal College of Nursing is to meet Scottish MP Margo MacDonald to discuss proposals on legalising assisted suicide after the organisation dropped its five-year opposition to the policy.
I might be taking this a little too literally, but that sounds like nothing more than a professional body representing nurses no longer supporting the state preventing people who want to end their lives from doing so with expert assistance.
It seems there’s a movement afoot to ‘normalise’ this, supported by polls:
The move comes as a poll found that 74% of people want doctors to be allowed to help terminally ill people end their lives.
The survey in today’s Times found that six out of 10 people said they wanted friends and relatives to be able to help their dying loved ones to take their own lives, without fear of prosecution.
When the alternative for most is likely to be a drawn out and miserable, and possibly painful, ending on the NHS is it surprising? I suspect the fear of being dead is now smaller than the fear of the process of dying, but also that people are starting to want the ultimate – in more ways than one – control of their lives.
However, while I can’t say that I think those who take their relatives abroad to Dignitas should be prosecuted (far from it)…
Excuse the interruption because that point is not black and white. As I mentioned in a comment at Julia’s, we would currently expect an investigation if there was good reason to believe that someone jumped off a bridge at the urging of grasping relatives who wanted Gran’s money early or freedom from the hassle of looking after her or whatever, and if there was evidence we’d expect a prosecution as well. There is no reason this should not be applied to someone who was coerced into getting on the plane and going to Dignitas, and in that respect the law shouldn’t change. But it certainly should stop routinely going after the grieving relatives of someone who has chosen to end their life of their own free will and has asked for help in doing so. The law simply should not have anything to do with that decision unless there is reasonable suspicion of coercion.
… I’m wary of this becoming the norm. And I’m not alone.
The Christian Nurses and Midwives organisation said today it regretted the RCN’s policy shift. Secretary Steve Fouch said it sent out the wrong signals “at a time when there is growing anxiety about how we will care for the elderly and severely disabled in the future”.
Their statement will be pooh-poohed as ‘religious scaremongering’.
Not necessarily religious scaremongering, but certainly religiously influenced thinking. Couple of points here. First, without wanting to go on about invisible sky fairies or sound like Richard Dawkins when a group of people believe something is Holy Writ you simply cannot have a rational debate with them about it. This is a deal breaker for most Christians, something that they’d see as quite un-Christian to support. Fair enough. I don’t think they should support homosexuality either when their Holy Book tells them not to, but nor should they get in the way of those who are gay or those who want an assisted walk towards the light. Second point is that I think the Christian Nurses mob are attacking a straw man by talking about growing anxiety over aged and disabled care in the future. There is indeed anxiety about it in the UK because it’s largely state provided and the fund, if you choose to dignify it by calling it such, is well and truly fucked. But the fear that legal assisted suicide will be offered as an alternative to increasing poverty and misery and despair is illogical when suicide is always going to be an option anyway for the majority who are physically able to take it. Naturally they’d be forced to use methods that tend to be crude and messy rather than being offered something that will send them to sleep and prevent them from waking up again, but the point is that when Britain can’t afford to care for pensioners and the disabled in a humane way because of the Ponzi scheme that NI has always been some will choose suicide over slowly starving and freezing to death anyway. All that would be changed by allowing assisted suicide is that those who want out but are unable to take their own lives because of disability or because they left it until they were too frail have the same choice as those who are more physically able. In some respects it’s like putting in a wheelchair ramp to the shops so everyone can go, except of course that those who do won’t be coming back.
…a glance across the Channel to the continent will show this has already been experienced in the Netherlands:
Euthanasia critics have talked about the “slippery slope” as a possibility; in the Netherlands, it is a fact.
Many old people now fear Dutch hospitals. More than 10% of senior citizens who responded to a recent survey, which did not mention euthanasia, volunteered that they feared being killed by their doctors without their consent. One senior-citizen group printed up wallet cards that tell doctors that the cardholder opposes euthanasia.
Is this just panic and scaremongering?
Well, I wouldn’t call it an entirely rational fear, though not entirely irrational either given what this guy did. But since the survey specifically didn’t mention euthanasia the 10% who fear their doctor killing them may not be afraid they’ll be euthanized so much as murdered for more prosaic reasons. There is also the point that elderly people suffering from dementia can be a bit paranoid sometimes (I have personal experience of this though fortunately we see far more good days than bad ones). Needless to say dementia patients who are too far gone to be able to make a rational decision shouldn’t even be in consideration for assisted suicide. Also euthanasia will probably remain illegal since it doesn’t necessarily imply consent of the one being euthanized, whereas assisted suicide does. I feel the distinction is quite an important one and not just semantics. The whole issue after all is about individual choice.
Can it be dismissed as ‘something that can’t happen here’?
Well, we are on the right road to it:
What makes the Dutch comfortable with euthanasia? One factor is that their doctors became comfortable with it. “The Dutch have got so far so fast because right from the beginning, they have had the medical profession on their side,” Derek Humphrey, founder of the Hemlock Society, told the Toronto Globe and Mail last September. “Until we get a significant part of the medical profession on our side, we won’t get very far.”
Have the Dutch got so far particularly fast? I think that’s a matter of opinion. We could just as easily say that the Dutch have simply been less slow than everybody else. In any case it seems inapplicable to the UK where, according to those surveys, the majority of British people are way ahead of the doctors in becoming comfortable with it. To repeat what I said at the beginning, all that is happening is that one, aha, body in the medical profession no longer supports the state actively obstructing assisted suicide. That’s it, and I’d hardly say it qualifies as having the medicos on side.
So, how has this gained such a grip on the doctors?
Glad you asked:
How did Dutch doctors change their thinking so dramatically in the space of one lifetime?
The path to the death culture began when doctors learned to think like accountants. As the cost of socialized medicine in the Netherlands grew, doctors were lectured about the importance of keeping expenses down.
In many hospitals, signs were posted indicating how much old-age treatments cost taxpayers. The result was a growing “social pressure” from doctors and others, says Arno Heltzel, a spokesman for the Catholic Union of the Elderly, the largest Dutch senior-citizen group, which favors voluntary euthanasia. “Old people have to excuse themselves for living. When they say that all of their friends are dead, people say, ‘Maybe it is time for you to go too,’ rather than, ‘You need to find new friends.’ “
I bet NICE has some of those posters ready to go to the printers already…
I’m no fan of the grossly inappropriately named NICE* and wouldn’t put much past them. But given that this comes from a spokesman for a Catholic organisation I have to wonder if there’s a little bias in there. In fact the emotionally charged phrase “path to death culture” makes me wonder about bias in the whole article.
* I’ve long suspected NICE is also an example of coming up with the acronym first and then finding a vaguely relevant name that fits the acronym. Given the often not nice nature of NICE we might as well change it to the Clinicians’ Unit for Nationwide Treatment, and yes I did come up with the name the same way.