For those who haven’t heard, there is a woman by the name of Brittany Maynard. She is currently suffering from a brain tumor that is inoperable. She has moved from California to Oregon, where there is a law that states that the terminally ill are able to take their own lives, when their disease gets into the late stages. It’s a more humane way of dealing with this, as opposed to telling those who have no hope of getting better that they have to suffer and die in some horrifically painful way. Maynard has gotten the medication to end her own life and has stated publicly that she is going to do so on November 1st.
First, I’ll give my own opinion on this. I have absolutely no problem with physician-assisted suicide for terminal patients. If they have no hope of getting better, what good does it do to force them to live in pain or worse? It only makes the families feel better. I am not against suicide in general. What you do with your life is your business. However, I can see where the ethical arguments come from people who are healthy ending their lives. But, for the terminally ill, that is a whole other thing. Brittany Maynard is never going to get well. Even if there is a cure for brain tumors announced tomorrow, it will have to be tested, approved by the FDA and then reach the market. By that time, since NOTHING goes through FDA approval quickly, Ms. Maynard will be dead. It’s a sad and tragic story that we hear all too often. One of my favorite episodes of FRONTLINE is about a man who is dying of ALS who goes to Zurich to commit suicide. Here’s a link. I recommend you check it out.
However, as is typical in these cases, the pro-life bleeding hypocrites had to come out and make themselves heard. One person in-particular is who I am going to be responding to today. His name is Trent Horn. He is a Catholic and a writer for the publication Catholic Answers. Oh, so he has the right answer to this? Well, let’s see what he has to say. I’m not going to respond to every part of this article, just the bits I think are most important, to save time. Here’s a link, so you can read the rest on your own. Now, let’s get started.
Everyone agrees we should have a choice in “how” we die. By that I mean we should be able to choose where we die (in hospice, in a hospital, at home), who we want to stand by us as we end our mortal existence, and whether we will use treatment to delay or even indirectly hasten death.
Um, no. That’s not what everyone agrees on. Not at all. If we have a choice on how, by which I mean the method, we die then we should be allowed that choice. This woman, and the man whose story is in the video I linked above, have no way to stop themselves from dying. Both of them suffered immeasurably and there was almost no quality of life left. How can you argue that this is something that they should not have had a choice over?
I think it’s clear we don’t have an unlimited right to kill ourselves. I live in San Diego where it’s not uncommon for people to try to commit suicide by jumping off the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge.
Whoa, dude! False equivalence! There is a HUGE difference between a person who jumps off a bridge and someone who is terminally ill. You can’t start off your discussion about this with this kind of example, because it colors the entire issue. That’s not cool.
If the right to die were truly unlimited, the state would no more investigate a person’s motive to die than it investigates a person’s motives for marrying someone or conceiving a child, actions that also have permanent consequences (though not as grave as the consequences of suicide). The state would let people end their lives without scrutiny, just as it lets people have children or marry.
Wait, what? I can kind of see where you’re about to go, here, but I’m going to head you off at the pass. Given the belief in our culture that a person’s life has intrinsic value, however, there are limits to that value. What value does it serve for Brittany Maynard to suffer needlessly, if the outcome is the same? She cannot get better. There is no possible way for her to live. If we are going to have legal physician-assisted suicide, then I guarantee you that there would be a stiff process of approval, much like there is in Zurich. Your argument here is hinting in the same direction as Sarah Palin’s BS ‘death panels.’
But aside from the difficulty in predicting when someone will die, there are larger problems with this position. It forces us to classify the sick and disabled into two arbitrary groups: those who deserve suicide prevention and those who deserve suicide assistance.
Deserve? Who’s saying that these people deserve this? No, we are saying that they have a right to end their lives prematurely, if they are terminally ill. It is THEIR right. This isn’t being forced on them, Trent. Nobody held a gun to Craig Ewert’s head and told him to go to Zurich and end his life. He made that choice. What are you talking about?
Basically, it’s dangerous when the people you count on to heal you also have the right to help kill you. This goes beyond doctors. In 2008 Oregon resident Barbara Wagner wanted to try an experimental chemotherapy drug, but her insurance company refused to pay $4,000 a month for the treatment.
It did, however, offer to pay for “physician aid-in-dying,” which at a cost of $100 for a one-time use of pills that would put her into cardiac arrest was a bargain for the insurance company. When death is offered as an alternative to treatment, insurance companies will promote it, since death always costs them less than the medicine needed to treat their clients’ severe health problems.
And I thought that I had a shitty outlook on humanity. You take the cake, dude! For one, this is the biggest stretch I have ever seen. For another, insurance companies may be evil, but I refuse to believe that they are going to tell people – “kill yourselves! It saves us money!” That’s bad PR if I’ve ever seen it.
We don’t euthanize suffering human beings precisely because we show them more mercy than we do cats and dogs. An animal’s life is not worth the cost of expensive medical treatment, but a human’s life is much more valuable than an animal’s, so we have no problem spending large sums of money to treat them. We should give human beings effective pain management and respectful care as their bodily functions begin to cease. We shouldn’t just give them the “Old Yeller” treatment.
Oh yeah. I bet that they are taking Ms. Maynard out back and shooting her. That totally is how it is. Why, I know the kind of gun they’re using. She won’t know what hit her! And ‘effective pain management’? Yeah, cause I bet that they have NEVER thought of that before. Right, terminal cancer patients? Anyone?
Other people will say that the “dignity” in dying comes from the fact that the person is able to choose how they die, regardless of what choice they make. But dying in a dignified manner relates to how one confronts death, not the manner in which one dies or chooses to die.
Bullshit! That’s bullshit and you know it! What dignity does an alzheimer’s patient who is unable to think, shitting their adult diapers and pissing themselves have? Please, elaborate to me how that is dignified? Where is the dignity in crying yourself to sleep every night, for weeks, as you are slowly being eaten alive by cancer? My grandad died of cancer, and you know what the last days of his life were like? They were hell. He couldn’t fact that with your BS definition of ‘dignity’ because he was in too much pain. Ms. Maynard is facing her death with dignity. She is choosing to end the pain and not have to go through worse, putting herself and her family through hell.
What people don’t have a right to do to be free from pain is directly kill themselves, whether the pain is physical, psychological, emotional, or even spiritual. Doctor’s especially should not participate in assisted suicide, because their job is to kill the pain, not the patient!
Funny thing. In Zurich, it is a rule that the patient has to be the one to take the medication. If the patient is unable to take the medication, then they can’t go through with the procedure. That was part of the reason that Ewert knew he had to get in to do the procedure soon. His ALS had almost totally crippled him. He knew that it was then, or never. And guess what, you ignorant religious zealot – the doctors did kill the pain. Craig Ewert’s pain was over. Brittany Maynard’s pain will also be over.
One of the comforts of being Catholic is knowing that our suffering isn’t meaningless, and death isn’t the end. Instead it’s the beginning of a new phase in life. Our loved ones aren’t extinguished at death but wait with us for the final judgment.
And there you have it. After all his talk of saying that he wasn’t making any religious arguments, it all comes back to his faith. He can’t even let his BS hold up. It has to come back to the fact that he believes this way because of his faith, and his faith is his guiding principal. Just like the anti-abortion Catholics, this is another one who wants people to do what he wants, because of his faith. If there is a God that genuinely wants Ms. Maynard to suffer, he can go and fuck himself up the ass with a cactus. He’s not worth praying to.
To Ms. Maynard, if you ever read this, I am sorry for your situation. I watched my grandad deteriorate and I fully support your right to do what you are doing. If there is something on the other side, after this, I’ll see you when I get there, however long that is. Take peace from this one atheist and his kind wishes.
I’ll leave you with a quote that makes me happy,
“This may not make much sense to you now, a young man at the beginning of his career, but one of the things you learn as you move up the ranks and get a little older is that you wish you had more time in your youth to really absorb the things that happened to you. It goes by so fast. It’s so easy to become jaded. To treat the extraordinary like just another day at the office. But sometimes, there are experiences that transcend all that.” -Capt. Katherine Janeway, Star Trek: Voyager