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June 10, 2007

Questions about ending life

I was watching the media with interest after Dr. Jack Kevorkian was released from prison. I expected to see a lot of coverage and debate on this controversial figure, but interestingly, not very much was said.
Ever since I have become aware of Dr. Kevorkian and what he was doing with doctor-assisted suicide, I have thought about the topic quite a bit and wondered why more people do not see the similarities between assisted suicide and abortion.
If a woman can unilaterally decide to end the life of a fetus growing inside of her, simply because our society’s laws say it is legal for her to do so, then why do our society and its laws not allow a terminally ill, conscious adult to take his or her own life with the help of a medical doctor?
I am not saying I do not respect a woman’s right to choose, but if that’s the case, shouldn’t a seriously ill adult be allowed to choose as well? Or for that matter, using the current logic regarding abortion, the adult should not even have to be terminally ill to have a medical professional assist him or her in suicide.
Terry Mire
Kansas City



"We're not even talking about suicide here. We are talking about "assisted suicide," which is a nice, little euphemism for homicide."

Not when I've blessed the assisting.

Don't get me wrong, we need serious safeguards in place, but I should have a dignified out that doesn't involve ingesting rat poison or fellatiating a shotgun barrel. And someone else shouldn't be subject to prosecution for assisting me in going out on my own terms.

I'm not dismissing your concerns by any means -- they're precisely why I'm saying we need safeguards in place so that the system isn't abused.


CRD and jack, you both know how much I respect you, I hope, so please think more about this subject.

We aren't talking about going out on your own terms. You can always commit suicide in thousands of ways, many of them quite peaceful and painless.

We aren't talking about people hooked up to machines or feeding tubes, artificially prolonging their lives.

We aren't talking about the terminally ill, suffering in their last few months of life.

What we will be doing is defining life on a utilitarian basis --- the value is measured by how useful that life is to the rest of us. "A human paperweight," as jack put it.

It won't just be the terminally ill who will feel pressure to die ASAP for the convenience of others, such as a grandchild who no longer wants to be around a Grandpa who poops himself.

We are talking about the chronically ill whose medicine and medical bills are deemed to be a "burden" on their families. We're talking about the disabled --- the blind, the lame, the developmentally handicapped, who may not be able to support themselves.

In short, where does it end?

We're not even talking about suicide here. We are talking about "assisted suicide," which is a nice, little euphemism for homicide.

I don't like playing God and determining who should live and who should die.


May not be a good idea, as they often seem to take others with them.


Seems to me that even the most faithful of Christians are amongst the "Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die" crowd. How do we move more Muslims into that bunch?


kate: Don't want to cause a stroke and put you in danger of the Dr's services, but I agree with you. The letter is one more apples vs oranges arguement.

Personally, I have no interest in becoming a babbling, feces smeared, 80 year old infant. I also feel no need to be a human paper weight. If hope for return from either of those places is gone, I have let my family know they should pull the plug and call it a day.

Frankly, we have assisted suicide now. Here is how it works. A person arrives at the beginning of what will be a horrible end. He/she goes to the Dr. The Dr explains there are no options left except trying to make you "comfortable". The Dr then writes a BIG scrip for a major pain killer.

The Dr spends several minutes explaining to you that the drug is very dangerous and to be extremely careful to never take more than one or two. That taking several can cause death and taking a bunch will definitely do the job.

The Dr then bids you a sad "goodby".

The question then is how do we make this system legal? IMO, just like abortion, drugs, etc. it is going to happen legal or not. The only way to have any control is to make it legal and regulated.


And if I had known that one day Kevorkian would be released from prison I would have treated my family a whole lot better. :)


I’m not a fan of assisted suicide. I agree with irishguy and T Hanson that its acceptance will lead to pressuring the terminally ill to end their lives.

But, think Terry Mire uses flawed logic in comparing abortion to assisted suicide – one of the procedures requires the consent of the person whose life will end.


Safeguards need to be built in, but, having witnessed my grandfather spend the last 9 years of his life lying on his back pooping himself after a stroke, I can safely say that I want the option to go out on my own terms -- and how dare the politicians deny that to me?


Yep, it isn't just about the terminally ill being freed from their suffering.

T. Hanson

Interesting point Irish, but I can expand on it as well.
We know that some nursing homes don't always treat their most troublesome patients (usually the ones that need the most care) well. They withhold meds, or not attend to them for days. Now lets say that the staff would withhold the medicine which would of course make the patient feel worse, like death would be the only answer and that patient would choose to end his/her life. The nursing home would be rid of a problem, free up a bed, just because they could pursue the patient to leave another way.
In a perfect world I would say that euthanasia would be a sensible choice, but I think it could get abused very easily by ungrateful family members or even an overtaxed system.


The issue with "assisted suicide" for me is not so much with those knocking on death's door, but with the chronically ill who will feel pressure to end their lives rather than become a burden on their families.

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