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      19.07.2011 18:30
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      Musing on some similarities between smoking and euthanasia....

      When governments decide to pass a law that will impact society in the way that a euthanasia legalization in the UK would, they mainly use the principle of Utilitarianism. Now I'm not saying that this is the sole basis of every policy that is passed through parliament, but it is at least what they tell us. The government decided to pay money into collapsing banks like Northern Rock as they argued it was the best thing they could do to benefit the majority of people. In the same way, the reason that euthanasia remains illegal is that the majority of those that have the final say, believe that euthanasia will do more harm then it will do good for our society. It appears then that the more concerned that the government is about our welfare, the more we find our free choice restricted. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I am pro-laisee fair government, only that in order to maintain social control, the government must restrict some of our choices. My intention here is not to argue either for or against euthanasia. I personally believe that euthanasia is such a subjective subject, that there is no one overall answer and that each case would have to be looked at individually. Rather, I just want to point out that there are a lot of similarities between assisted suicide and legalized drugs which are detrimental to our health. I'm using smoking as an example, but there are others I could think of for instance alcohol.

      Smoking is suicide. Many will disagree with this. Firstly, everyone knows that one person who smoked all their lives and lived to be 100. Smoking will not defiantly kill every single dependent. But statistics estimate that every year around 100000 people die from smoking related illnesses in the Uk each year. So we must accept that making the choice to smoke may cause an untimely death and it is not as simple as a lottery. The more you smoke and the heavier you smoke the more likely it is to kill you. Others will disagree as they will say that it is about intent. I don't intend to die each time I light up a ciggy, but I still must accept that by lighting that ciggy I am indeed doing something harmful to my body and I could die from it. I think people can't accept this as they are scarred. So if we accept the principle that smoking is suicide, the easier it will be to remove nicotine dependency from our society. Many smokers admit that they realize they may be killing themselves, but still they smoke. So isn't that a type of diluted suicide.

      Smoking is assisted suicide. Ok, so that claim seems really outlandish. We should take responsibility for choosing to smoke. We choose to light up the cigarette and put it in our mouth. The government agrees with that. Yet Smoking is legal. Smokers don't grow the tobacco and fly it in on a plane. The tobacco companies do. I like my local shop assistant. He is a friendly and pleasant man who runs his shop to make a living so he can take care of his family. But he stocks tobacco and he earns profit from selling it. The point I'm trying to make here, is that although smoking is an individual choice, the other people involved in the process of supply still must share some responsibility. I couldn't smoke if it was illegal and if the tobacco companies weren't allowed to turn a profit from it. I couldn't smoke if my local shop keeper refused to supply it. So when it comes to the question of moral responsibility, we have to admit that on a macro level, others are culpable.

      Smoking murders. Yes its true, worst of all, smoking not only kills the smoker, but those who breathes in the smokers smoke. These people used to be the bar staff at the local pubs. We have taken a step to limiting this type of 'unintended' murder by banning smoking in public places. But what about the people around the smoker at home. Their family, friends and children. If a smoker admits that they know they may be damaging someone else's health by smoking around them, isn't this a more serious form of murder? Interesting.

      Comparing smoking to euthanasia comes up with some interesting results which swing in favor of euthanasia. Smoking tricks people into killing themselves by making them dependent. People like to ignore the fact that they may well be committing suicide by smoking. At least with euthanasia people make no pretense about what they are doing. The intention is clear. Secondly, euthanasia is assisted on a micro scale where as smoking is assisted on a macro scale. But both choices require the involvement of a third party. Thirdly, euthanasia involves one person killing another. The person has consented (in theory) and the other person, who will be carrying out the act, has also consented. There is no such consent when it comes to smoking.

      I guess what I am saying is. That if one form of assisted suicide is legal, then it seems highly hypocritical of the powers that be to dismiss another form. Either really be concerned about the health of our society and stop taking money from cigarette taxes and decide that euthanasia should be illegal. Or legalize euthanasia and let everyone have the choice of how to kill themselves; be it slowly or fast. I know this is controversial and any people will not agree with what I am saying here, but as I stated previously i don't have a view either way. I just think that smoking is just as detrimental to our society as euthanasia may be and if not more so. So it makes it hard for me to hear when people say euthanasia will cause all manner of problems when we already have enough with smoking.

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        05.04.2011 19:46
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        a can of worms!!

        Euthanasia........

        This subject is a very complex and contraversial one and i am fully aware that what i may believe, another may not. I am not going to bring my profession into this review at all, and i am going to base this purely on personal experience because i think that it would be wrong of me to judge this topic from the nurse's perspective in a hospital setting.

        Euthansia, what is it?

        Wikipedia define it as " taken from the Greek meaning "good death", and refers to the practice of ending a life in a manner which relieves pain and suffering. According to the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics, the precise definition of euthanasia is "a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering." Heavy stuff i know, and from a personal perspective, i believe it is to end life humanely when a person is suffering wholey.

        Although not legalised here in England, there are other countries in which it has been legalised and there has been public press in recent years regarding those suffering with life long illnesses going to these countries to undertake this act.

        If i were the person involved..............

        As a young healthy(ish) person in her 20's it is hard to picture myself unwell, and not something i would like to dwell on for a legnth of time, but if i were suffering from a lifelong illness, knowing that things were only going to deteriorate rather than improve i would find it a fairly easy conversation to have regarding euthanasia. The fact that it is illegal here would soon end the conversation, and i don't think this is a law that is going to change anytime soon. So why are we in a position to end the life of our animals when they are suffering when they are not able to, and do not even get the chance to be able to communicate their choice, but those in the human form of sound mind are unable to make this decision?

        Being the person that i am, i would also worry about what i am leaving behind. For our hearts to stop beating is inevitable at some time, but when this is going to occur, we are unaware. I would worry about what my family are going through, and how they felt about the concept, i would worry what i was leaving behind and if my loved ones would cope. I suppose i am a coward really, and am scared of the unknown. The thought of suicide scares some people and some consider it as a sin and that it is something to be frowned upon, but could it be that these people are very brave? I am not saying that someone with these thoughts isn't unwell, but must feel very low to have these thoughts. Neither am i saying that i agree with the last statement either, but certainly something that has crossed my mind. I think the same concept applies to euthanasia, you have to be very brave to make the decision to end your life and i dont think it is a decision that i would be able to make.


        If a loved one were involved.............

        If it were a loved one that had asked me about the consept, my selfish mode would kick in somewhat i think. How could that person want to end their life? Why would they want to leave their friends and family prematurely? And then the practical side of me kicks in, it must be a very hard decision to make and one not to take lightly, and if someone is suffering why not end their pain?

        As previously mentioned, those of you with pets, may well have had to make that decision at some point in your lives and in sme ways it is even more awful in that the animal is oblivious to what is about to happen. Some may see this as cruel, others as a release. I am fairly on the fence with it really. I understand why the concept is in place, but have also seen this act put upon my dog a few years ago and it was one of the most traumatic experiences i have had, one i will never forget.

        In conclusion, i dont think that i can say i agree or disagree with euthanasia. It may be cowardly of me to not favour one or the other, but i can see the argument from both sides really. There would have to be such a stringent assessment process to ascertain the mental capacity of someone and whether they were of sound mind to actively make this decision, and this does not even scratch the surface with regards to those that are suffering from a illness or condition whereby they are unable to communicate their choice in the matter, yet loved ones feel that they may be suffering indefinately. A huge can of worms, an ethical nightmare really.

        It could be put as simply though as, you wouldnt let your cat or dog suffer, why should human life be any different??

        The jury is still out in my book, i can only give 3 stars, do i agree, dont i agree, i cannot decide....

        Thankyou for reading.

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          27.07.2010 16:22
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          I think it's wrong, but for some it may be a good thing

          Many people ask this question : Is Euthanasia right or wrong?
          Everyone is entitled to their own opinion some people agree with it, some don't.
          Here I can express why it can be a good thing and why it can be a bad thing.

          I first learned this in R.E. in year 11 and we had to write about it in the final exam, and I felt at first that you shouldn't end your life only God as he created the world and everything in the universe, but now as things have changed I believe that a person's body that person can decide for themselves.

          But does anyone have the decision to end their life? Or is there God who can do it?
          Honestly it does depend on the person and what sort of life they have, because some people have better lives than others, some are rich, others are poor, some are healthy, others are ill, some are happy, others are sad.
          However if the person is young they shouldn't do it, cause they have a long life ahead of them and all goodness may come to them. But on the other hand if it was some who was in their 80s and very sick, and had been told that they will never get better, the matter of opinion in this age range will be a lot different and people think in either of these two age ranges that euthanasia could be right or wrong.
          But not everybody in the world follows a religion, in the Christian world they believe that Euthanasia is wrong and only God decides when to end your life. This is applicable to other religions such as Islam, Skithism, Judasim.
          If they do not follow a religion people will think differently and think that euthanasia is nothing (if they know what that is of course.)

          Overall, I don't think that people should end their lives, but if you're very ill and you know you're never going to get better then that would be different from someone who has a good life and healthy. But at the end of the day, you can't really tell people what to do and you can't control your family and friends, or anybody for the rest of their lives and they are allowed equal opportunities.

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            08.06.2010 11:02
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            A complex and grey area.

            Shouldn't we all have the right to decide whether we live or die?

            Life is full of decisions where we become masters of our own destiny and chose to live our lives the way we want it to be. Why is it we are permitted to have control over our life, but not control over our death? And so with this in mind wouldn't it be fair and balanced for us to also be able to choose our death in the same way?

            Of course that argument does not really stand up because we don't actually have full control over our lives. Sure, we can influence it and try to get it to go in a certain way, but ultimately it does not always follow that the decisions we make always allow us to have what we want in life. Our lives are filled with the unknown...we follow our destiny if you will....and one never really knows where one is going to end up and how that's going to happen....isn't that the beauty of life?

            We all know we're going to die. We're all "terminal" because life doesn't ever go on forever. But if I was to sit here now and say "you know what, I'm going to die in 40 years time so I might as well die now" I think most of you would say I was crazy. So when does it become not crazy to make the decision to ask for yourself to be euthanized? If I only have 20 years to live? Or 10 years. Or a year? 6 months? 6 weeks? When is the time scale acceptable for euthanasia to be okay?

            Maybe its more to do with suffering rather than life expectancy? So if I'm suffering unbearable pain with no hope of it getting better then maybe I should be able to euthanize myself. But what measure do we use for "unbearable pain"? If someone is dying in excrutiating pain from terminal bone cancer, for example, its easy to have a measure of that pain and understand that the pain must be unbearable. However, what if the pain is a little less clear cut? What if the pain was emotional pain rather than physical? So, imagine now that I'm suffering from severe depression and schizophrenia. I'm in unbearable pain and I believe that its' never going to get any better. So, in this situation, is euthanasia acceptable? I think many people would probably say no.

            Maybe you could consider that euthanasia is only acceptable if there is no quality of life. But again we have the problem of defining what is quality of life and what isn't. Maybe in some situations that's for us to decide, but as I said earlier, sometimes we're never sure what's around the corner and so quality of life can change from moment to moment. It becomes even more complicated when we are the ones making the decision for someone else because then we have to make some judgement on how they feel when they are not in a position to communicate this themselves. Obviously this is fraught with ethical problems and there really is no easy answers.

            Don't get me wrong. I am an advocate for euthanasia but I also believe that its not just a matter of agreeing with it or disagreeing with it. The practicalities of legalising euthanasia are complex and it's a very grey area in every case.

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              24.01.2010 15:01
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              we don't like to see the family pet suffer

              If I had never seen a person suffer the way my dad did in the last few weeks of his life, then i don't think I would ever agree to Euthanasia. But things change when It is someone very close to your heart.

              Maybe its because you watch a loved one suffering that this topic really comes to mind. We come from a nation of animal lovers and we never let them suffer the way we let our fellow human beings suffer. I for one would like to be given the option to end my suffering if ever I needed it

              If euthanasia was ever to become legal then of course there would have to be extremely strict guidelines to follow.

              As with everything we do there is always someone telling us how we can or can't live or end our lives. Maybe its time we took control after all it is our lives

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                21.12.2009 20:43
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                People should have the right to choose if they want to live or not.

                Euthanasia is such a controversial subject because many see as "playing God" and other see it as just plain inhumane. However, when we euthanise animals it's seen as the humane thing to do - why should there be a double standard? And how is turning off a life-support machine any different to someone wanting to die?

                I watched a programme not long ago called "Reverend Death" - it was a show about a reverend in America who would assist suicide to people who were terminally ill and wanted to die. He would provide with the means, such as poison, help them tie up loose ends and be on the phone with them while they died. He genuinely believed that this was his "calling". One of the people he assisted was a woman with some sort of terminal disease - I can't remember the name of it - which left her tired and fatigued all day. She hated her life because she believed there was no point of living that way so he assisted her suicide.

                The woman's case was completely valid in my opinion. Why should someone have to live in a state where they can't do anything? If at some point I was left in the state where I couldn't speak or move but simply start into space then I would want to die. On the other hand, if one of my relatives or close was friends was in that situation I wouldn't be able to bear the thought of them being euthanised but losing someone hurts no matter how it's done.

                The final question is - who decides? I believe it should be the family members who decide if the person is not able to decide for themselves. I don't think doctors should have the power to decide because they don't know the person or what they want - euthanasia shouldn't be forced on anyone just because their terminally ill. If they decided to die then a psychologist should be provided for them to see if this is truly what they want and there wouldn't be any regrets.

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                  21.03.2009 20:34
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                  can be a good thing for some

                  Euthanasia is such a hard subject to make a decision on if it is right or wrong simply because there is so much other things to take into consideration about Euthanasia. For example if it was made completely legal in the UK like it is some places in the world, you could just have clinically depressed people wanting to take their lives when they could be helped to get through it instead.

                  One thing that I do agree with though is people who want to die peacefully through Euthanasia as they are suffering from a terminal illness which can be a very painful thing to die from. However at the moment for a person in the UK to have Euthanasia they have to fly to a country that allows it and this means that they have to go while they are still fit enough to fly, and that begs the question how much longer could they have lived if it was legal in the UK and they didn't have the fly out to die.

                  There is also the massive issue about what is assisted suicide when it comes to Euthanasia, and some cases have been in the news when people have only helped their loved ones onto a plane and it is classed as assisted suicide as they helped them to get their and die. I don't agree with that at all, I think that if someone is dieing from a terminal illness and they cant die peacefully in England then at least let them fly out to somewhere where they can, and don't pester their family when they get back home as I'm sure their grief is enough in the first

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                    04.03.2009 17:26
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                    criminal have human rights - why shouldn't we!

                    Not really sure where I stand on this one. Its such a serious topic to make a decision on and unless you have been in a situation where this might have been an option to someone close, then I don't see how you claim to be qualified enough.

                    My own feeling would be that should something happen to me that was beyond my control, or that my life was going to medically unbearable, then yes, I would want euthanasia as an option. The problem I would have is the guilt of asking somebody I love dearly to make that decision when the time is right, or to actually help me to do what I wanted. Could I go ahead with this part of euthanasia, then I am not sure. How could you put someone through that, they have to live with what they have done for the rest of their lives - thats not what I would want, but then not to have the decision wouldn't be what I wanted either - like I say it's so hard.

                    Something else that troubles me, what if I have something legal in writing saying to end my life for me when you see fit. What if i was mentally able to still make that decision but physically unable for you to understand me - what if I want more time and it's too late - the decision would then be out of my hands.

                    I don't think it would be possible to have one set decision on this matter - I really do think that each and every situation would be so different from another, maybe thats what we should be looking too, not one law to legalise it, but to at least have it their as an option to be looked at.

                    I don't think at any point would I be happy about a doctor having the last decision, not without the close input of the family. How would I know that a decision wouldn't be made on what postcode area I live in and if the NHS would prefer me dead rather than pay for my care.

                    My heart goes out to anybody that has found themselves in this awful and painful situation, and hope that you find the strength to do what you want to do - it's your human right.

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                      04.03.2009 14:43
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                      A basic human right

                      In October 2007 my dad was diagnosed with Mesothelioma cancer - or in layman's terms, asbestos cancer. By the time it had been detected it had spread from his lungs to his brain, kidneys and adrenal glands - and we were told it was terminal.

                      For 7 weeks we had to watch the fit, witty, strong 55yr old who was so important to all of us, wither and eventually die whilst we could do nothing to help him or even ease his pain. In his last final days - we sat around his hospital bed in an open and busy ward, watching him twitch and shout out incoherently in pain while doctors did nothing more than sedate him to quiet him as we were told it was upsetting other patients on the ward. I said at the time if I could push a button and end his suffering for him - I would have done, but we had to let nature take its course, and he died at the beginning of December.

                      From beginning to end, my dad only suffered for 7 weeks - which is mercifully brief, and I feel for people for whom battles for life (or death) are more drawn out - as those 7 weeks for us felt endless at the time when observing someone you love dying

                      Before my dad's death, I'd never really had an opinion on Euthanasia - but then I'd never really had anyone close to me suffer from anything that would require a release from life. But after watching someone I cared deeply about I am in pro euthanasia camp, but I can understand how it must be so hard to govern and ensure it's not abused. I'm not religious either, so it's probably an easier call for me to make than someone who believes.

                      In the case of my father - I know he would have hated the indignity of his final days, and he would have much preferred to have been able to opt out - but at what point? And if Euthanasia was legalised who would make the final call as to when the exit was too be made? My dad, his family or his doctors?

                      Until 4 days before my dad died we were still able to have a conversation with him - his decline was so rapid that the next day we visited, the cancer had effectively wiped out his brain, leaving him incapable of making any decisions himself - so if the decision was left to him, he would have had to make it while still capable of making informed decisions - maybe weeks before his faculties actually left him - robbing us of some of the precious time we had left with him

                      So how about the family then? I knew my dad well enough to know that he would have trusted us to make the right decision - and as the people who cared most about him, I feel we should have been able to make the call, and say enough was enough and end his life, but not every family is as close as ours, and if left to family members to pull the cord so to speak, there will be some who don't always act in the best interests of the patient. So if it was legalised I'm sure numerous legal cases would soon ensue with relatives fight over whos best interest it was actually in

                      So what about the doctors? In my dad's case we barely saw a doctor, and never came across any Cancer Specialists. The doctor that was overseeing his care at the time of death was a Diabetes Consultant, as he was in a bed on a Diabetes ward (no other spaces, NHS overcrowding etc). We only met this guy once, he admitted he had no real knowledge of my dad's cancer, and would attempt to get an appointment with an Oncologist who specialised in it - that appointment came through 5 days after he died. So personally, I wouldn't have trusted the doctors to have made the correct decision regarding my dad - and would probably have fought against them if that had been proposed by them. Also I should imagine if the doctor were allowed to make the final decision, the red tape to get approval for such a decision would be immense, and so it probably be quicker to let nature take it course anyway

                      Everyone's experience of death, disease and dying will be different which is why subjects such as Euthanasia will always be so emotive and difficult to govern. Maybe one way around it could be a living will - where people can legally expressed their wishes long before the need actually arises - in my dad's case naming us as the people able to make the final decision regarding his death. Ultimately whilst I believe it should be a basic human right to be able to end your suffering - I don't believe it will happen

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                        26.02.2009 21:40
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                        It's a complex issue with no right or wrong answer

                        This is a really interesting topic and there are no right or wrong answers about it. I have had this discussion with my family on several occassions especially when there are cases that crop up in the news. Am I for or against it? Well, lets look at both sides;

                        Well, my mum's best friend was diagnosed last June with a brain tumour that was inoperatable. She underwent lots of intense Chemotherapy and radiotherapy. As such her hair fell out, she was very weak, and with where the tumour was she was finding it hard to communicate, remember anything and had blank expressions on her face. It was fair to say that her life was very dependent upon others and she really had no quality of life left. She was told that she had a few weeks to live and the radiotherpay and chemotherapy would prolong her life by a few weeks - was it really worth it? She died 10 weeks later at the age of 52. So this got me and mum talking - when someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness and have no quality of life and wish to end their pain and misery should they be forced to continue to suffer? So from that point then I think it shouldn't be illegal.

                        Are the reasons for wishing to end your life really justifiable? Should it be dependent up the quality of life?

                        Against it:
                        Who should be making the final decision whether someone should end their life? Should it be a relative, spouse, doctor, carer and if so would they have an ulterior motive ie money? What if the family couldn't agree.

                        I'm guessing if Euthanasia was legalised then there would have to be a committee / group or some form of council that was responsible for the whole country and review each case individually. This would take up valuable time and money.

                        It's a tricky situation and I think if a person is diagnosed with an illness then they should make the decision whether they wish to proceed with treatment provided they are in a normal state of mind. If they decide not to have treatment then that should be there decision.

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                        08.02.2009 17:07
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                        Everyone would have very different thoughts on this

                        I was quite annoyed as I missed watching a recent television programme starring Julie Walters that focused on Euthanasia and all of the complications that surround it.
                        I am definitely not a highly opinionated person, in any way shape or form.
                        After watching the news headlines I listened intently to a relatively young woman who was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis who felt that when her condition reached the stage when her life became intoelrable that she wanted to visit the suicide clinic in Geneva and end her own life...the only thing she asked was that her husband wasn't charged with being an accessory to any crime.



                        Euthanasia is a very emotive subject, maybe no such though ever crosses the minds of the young and fit, but as time passes and we grow older I am sure many of us secretly wonder what we would wish for if our quality of life was stolen from us.
                        Of course life itself is precious and we should never ignore that fact. If we are robbed of our dignity through a disease such as Alzheimer's or Senile Dementia then euthanasia is not an option we can consider.
                        But if another grave condition robs us of quality of life and dignity then that option can be explored.
                        A while ago a programme charted a visit to the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland and followed the harrowing process, I say harrowing, but I think the anguish was more ours than the sufferers.
                        Whereas we watched on in a state of angst the family seemed to be accepting and calm.
                        Maybe this is where a sense of faith steps in, not necessarily a Religious faith but a profound belief that there is something after life.


                        Having recently lost a pet who was very elderly, but had been an important part of our lives for the better part of nineteen years, we were forced into making a decision. The choice was ours, he in fact had lost all of his dignity, he was no longer able to get in and out of his chair or toilet himself. Twenty four hours came and went and he remained in his basket sleeping.
                        So, in short we had to be honest with ourselves, there was no chance of recovery because no one recovers form sheer old age. Did we want him to feel stripped of dignity and have no quality of life?
                        Believe you me we wrangled for hours trying to skirt the subject, somehow hoping that it would resolve itself. But we had to come to a decision and although we had in fact already reached that decision neither of us could bring ourselves to utter the words. It was tantamount to donning the executioners black hat.
                        Inwardly we knew our decision was the right one and we carried on and let him rest in peace.
                        Not a day goes by without he is remembered, he may have been a dog but he was so precious.


                        I can only say what I feel, the nearest I have got to personally experiencing Euthanasia has been explained above.
                        If Euthanasia were legalised in this country I am sure it would quickly run into problems, there would be family feuds and fights over loved ones estates. Legal battles would be waged over whether the person was of sound mind when they made their decision.


                        We can only speak for ourselves and state what we would like to see happen if we were handed a death sentence.
                        For myself if I knew my quality of life was going to be intolerable and my quality of life was going to be taken from me completely then maybe I would rather follow my faith that there is something for us all at the end of the day.


                        This isn't meant to be morbid or sad, it is just part of the journey of life.
                        How we all would choose to cope is a decision that could only be made by ourselves.

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                          31.01.2009 23:24
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                          The main points as to why euthanasia should be legal

                          When a dog or a cat is sick, it is 'OK' for a Vet or the owner to put the pet down, it is fine for them to 'play god'. But when a human reaches a point where the pain is unbearable and life is not worth living, apparently it is not ok to 'play god'.

                          It is important to consider the quality of life of the person. The amount of pain and suffering that one must go through, even if they were on painkillers, is unimaginable to anybody that isn't suffering from that disease. Many feel they simply can't live without their independence, and this is why they want to end their lives.

                          Mercy killing should not be illegal as suicide in England is not illegal. If someone can freely kill themselves whenever they want, then why should a disease take away this right?

                          In 2005 a man won the right to take his wife of a life machine after she had been living in a 'vegetable' state for 10 years. If voluntary or involuntary euthanasia was legal then the amount of funds and hospital resources available would increase and health services could provide a more efficient service.

                          However, it is important that a patients decision isn't pressured by anyone as this would make the system corrupt.

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                            20.12.2008 19:38
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                            there is no right or wrong....

                            Right or wrong?

                            Its not really my right to agree or disagree with euthanasia, but its an issue that has particularly caught my attention in the last couple of weeks.
                            This has led me to think deeply about the subject. Euthanasia is something that has always caught public attention In ancient greek it means good death. It is a term often used to describe death to end suffering and pain.

                            As an M.E sufferer l have many friends who also suffer with this horrible illness that is often misunderstood, so when l heard about the death of Lynn Gilderdale, a severely affected M.E sufferer, who many of my friends knew, there was a deep sorrow and sadness that shall probably never leave us.
                            Apparantly her mother (who had been Lynn's number 1 support) had killed her in whats described as a 'mercy killing' apparantly this had been her daughters wish for some time. Lynn was a young 30 something girl, who had been struck with this illness many many years ago(17 years ago). Unable to do anything for her self, unable to eat, lift her head, or even do some of the simple things we take for granted. What a sad existence this would have been.

                            So this left me thinking about how desperate Lynn and her mother Kay must have been to end her suffering. It made me wonder how a mother could do this to her daughter? Im a great believer that where there is life there is hope. For once the illness M.E hit the headlines, and it was sad that it took such a desperate situation to do this. It even made me angry that there hadnt been more help available for her, but maybe no help would have ever been enough, as there is no cure and no particular treatment for this illness.

                            So lm not sure what will happen to the mother responsible, should she be blamed? Should she be admired? I can only imagine the courage it must have taken to do that. Whilst the law is the law and should be stuck to, can you watch the people you love go through so much suffering without at least thinking about helping them to end the pain. Luckly l am not faced with this situation, so l have no idea what decision l would make. Can a killing ever be right? Im torn between yes and no.

                            Of course in many countries euthanasia is legal, this helps to create a sense of confusion about what is right and what is wrong. But current law here is against euthanasia. It is certainly a very moral issue, and lm sure everyone has differing opinions, perhaps these opinions are from religious or moral opinion. Whatever your beliefs l think anyone would question their beliefs if they had to watch their daughter go through so much suffering. It seems Lynn had a simple existence that wasnt really living, she was simply breathing and even this was difficult.

                            So who are we to judge whether this was right or wrong? I do admire Kay for following her daughters wish. Lynn didnt appear to have a great deal in her life, so surely she should have been given the right to die? But maybe she would have got better? Ultimately she wasnt allowed to make this decision, and l do find this sad.

                            From all the friends who knew Lynn, Lynn was apparantly a lovely person who campaigned for awareness and support, so l like to think that her life will help the M.E world, and perhaps it will.
                            In recent years there have been many headline reports about the right to death in such circumstances, such as with MS suffers and other sufferers of terminal illnesses.

                            I think it will be a long time before and if things change. In which time lm sure there will be many more cases that will cause families even more pain than necessary. Its so sad and l feel for anyone who has to go through this!

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                              14.12.2008 13:23
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                              Its fine how it is.

                              Is anybody out there getting a little bit concerned by this constant flow of terminal ill or disabled people who feel the need to use the full glare of the media to change the law for assisted suicide, imploring for the legal right to die with the help of someone else, and so not see their nearest and dearest charged. Make no mistake, if they change the law then many of us today will see our rights eroded in the future if we are struck down with serious illness. They could wait for us to box-tick my dads life way when his dementia got really bad so to clear an HNS bed to eet those targets. Please think about how that law will be exploited by the powers that be guys if it come sin. Yes clarify it by all means. Stem cell methods could cure you ten years from now, but the change of law you ironically are pushing for now likely to be your downfall...

                              Obviously it's awful when you have reached that point in your life when you're in great pain and had enough, and if you can't move much you need help to end it all, fair enough. It should be your decision to call it a day and there should be no charges for anyone who helps, but why do I need to see it on national news every month? We know your arguments. I personally had to watch my dad die in palliative care at 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday night a few years ago and it's a very personal thing, something you don't share, certainly not on Sky Television! When you look down on your old man in that situation, wasting away, you know you too will be there one day, like father like son, an old man of 85 dieing of madness and diabetes, and so having no choice over his prescribed method of his coming dismissal; let alone having any idea who the people gathered around his bed were, the pathetic demise through dimentia in this modern age destined for most of us now as Britain gets older and older. Again, the NHS would love not to have the beds full of terminaly ill people and their demise hastened. Nurse hate clearing up after old folks that cant control their toilet time.

                              I really do feel there is a certain macabre theatre building up around assisted suicide cases and dare I say it, attention seeking. 100 British people have gone to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland-with or without their relatives- and no one has been prosecuted on the relatives return. But, to be fair, the law is clear, 12 years prison time for helping someone to die, the evidence there with the recent case of the young paralysed rugby player when the body was bought back to England so a prosecution made possible, but the courts ruling it wasn't in the public interest to enforce the law. For me that law works because it's ambiguous and so doesn't need changing. Again, make no mistake, if the Law Lords do change that law and make assisted suicide legal it will be exploited for the worse by the government, the door open to begin the cull of people like my dad when he was just a burden to us all, especially to the National Health Service. I guarantee you there are ministers, doctors and civil service accountants out there that would rub their hands in glee if the law was changed. It wouldn't surprise me if they are on the legal teams of these people pushing for the right to die. As camerons edges in the privatisation of the NHS you can guarantee private providers will want to be bale to 'help' people die to avoid bed blocking in swanky clinics.

                              Under the new N.H.S, General Practioners contracts (the family docs(, through a loop-hole, get more money if they DONT diagnose Alzheimer's in patients because that means less pensioners go into expensive NHS care homes, an extremely cynical ploy, one of the reasons why the deal was agreed, unscrupulous doctors having more power to not diagnose illness so get more cash back from the treatment saved. I also think it was no coincidence that the National Medical Council released data on the very same day as the latest assisted suicide case came to a climax in the High Court.

                              By 2040 one fifth of us will be over 70, and so more vulnerable than ever to terminal illness. The government of the day has to deal with that huge cost. There is momentum building in the health service to try and 'bring down' the number of old people on NHS wards, that legal loop-hole through euthanasia perhaps one of the solutions. And as 400 care home places are lost every week here in the U.K I think you can see there's an octogenarian time bomb ticking, forcing the population to be the careers, not so muhc the National Health service anymore, making the Tories calls to get everyone back to work who are on the dole even more absurd. Any decision on legal euthansia will be made on funding grounds not moral ones for me.

                              When my old man went he wasn't actually critically ill, just too far gone to make it worth giving him food and water anymore,whic he would throw away, mum agreeing to put him on the drip and so the hospital could 'legally' starve the old sod to death. With Alzheimer's there's no way he could legally say he's had enough, maybe ask the nurses to bump up the morphine to level ten and push the switch to the drip a little closer to the bed, and so it was left to my mum to make the call, the doctors handing us a form with five boxes to tick away each of his life support systems and its all done. Your decision then becomes about money and not his life. Everyday you go into see him they pump the pressure for you to sign forms and your old man away so they can clear the room and get the next one in, another family and another list to boxtick. Again, the doctors can't legally make that call and so this is how it's done. But if legal assisted suicide comes in then the process would be 'speeded up', perhaps retrospective agreements with patients of various terminal illnesses made that if we ever got in this state then we could sign now for that decision. But by that date you're not the same person and may have changed your mind.

                              If you look at the ease of which Dr Shipman killed all those old people it's pretty clear that not enough children of those murdered parents were concerned enough to question him. If that number had been the children dying then he wouldn't have got within a tenth of that still unknown 200 plus figure. The younger they are the more we care. When Shipman was taken to court there were no crowds of chavs with pink pushchairs and their burley tattooed partners throwing rocks at the van, what you tend to get with child killer cases, Shipman's police van entering the bowls of the court to no blizzard of debris. The distinct lack of an angry mob is why we should be worried about if there is a law change on assisted suicide. I personally believe most people who want to top themselves can do just that without anyones help and those who cant could agree with the nurse to leave the morphine a little too close when she goes off shift.

                              Shipman's medical staff and piers didn't question his death rate and so let him go on with it by proxy because he was a doctor and knew better. The relatives the same, taking 12 years of killing before a lawyer-daughter of one of the murdered patients got suspicious enough to act and question his obvious power. We believe and trust in medical structures, their decisions are gospel, and so in that case, why would we question the doctor's decision that our parents or loved ones are too far gone so it's best for all to switch of the medicine or life support machine? What if the doctor is making that decision purely on financial reasons linked to his contract though?

                              When we get to that point where the elderly are labeled expensive bed-blockers because we can't afford to put them in £500 a week care homes then if new assisted suicide rules come into play then why would docs give them medicine to keep them going to that point and so speed up the end? It's a hypothetical but that's the way the world works. If you look at the Baby P case its clear that it was an accident waiting to happen as Harringay were costed to help only 7 in every 10 kids, the other three at serious risk, resulting in the inevitable death. Health services are costed like that, the postcode lottery on things like cancer drugs, regardless if you pay your full National Insurance or not or stay keep in great shape, where you live your eventual downfall.

                              My point here is that those people outside the High Court are not only arguing for their right to die but arguing for people in the future to keep their rights to live. Because there's money to be made by human rights lawyers in fighting their cases, an endless stream of wheelchair bound desperate people perch precariously on those infamous and iconic London High Court steps, the attention and flashbulbs rather ironically giving those people more reason to live and fight on, which is a good thing and what life is all about after all. One of those protesting for the right-to-die has Motoneurone Disease, but the docs saying she still has twenty years left, her argument for assisted suicide clearly not about the now. People like her need to be big and realize any move to change the law here will be the template that will eventually affect all our rights to life in the future as the population ages and ages. The law is deliberately ambigious for that reason. With that stem cell technology literally racing on by the hour, it would be rather sad if that medical advancement will eventually cure people ten years from now that would rather die today. I'm pretty sure that rugby guy would be walking twenty years from now.

                              The law is there to protect us from the state and people who try to engineer situation where people take their lives for someone else financial advancement. There have been recent cases where rest home staff have been helping elderly patients 'on their way' for financial reasons, which resulted in prosecutions under the current law. I think you can envisage many ways in which relatives would plan to get hold of their parent's house in the current recession by claiming their mum or dad signed a form to say they have had enough. We must not change the law and as there have been no prosecutions then where's the problem, is my stance. On religious reasons to be against euthanasia I have no comment as they would get very silly.
                              .

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                                09.12.2008 13:37
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                                The Aim Of Palliative Care Is To Help A Person To Live in Comfort And To Die With Dignity.

                                Euthanasia
                                "To cure sometimes, to help often and to comfort always" was how a 16th century physician described his role in medicine and today nothing has really changed. I want to give you an insight into my thoughts on Euthanasia from my perspective as a nurse when for some years I was involved with the care of dying, and also as a person who now has a disease M E which at times has been very difficult.

                                I want to start by telling you a beautiful story about my little Persian cat called Teddy. He was my dream, the first Persian cat I owned. He was a blue colourpoint which means he was actually white with little grey bits and he was adorable. Sadly he developed a genetic kidney disease and went into renal failure at a very young age. We tried everything and eventually he was referred to the London Vet School where we were introduced to a lady vet who was amazing. We tried all manner of treatments and kept him as comfortable as we could, but in the end after many attempts to treat him I was called up to say that he was dying. I knew then that the kindest thing to do was to let him go peacefully. The way I was spoken to, the empathy I was shown, the care I received was like no other. He died with dignity, he was adored and he lies in peace now free of his suffering.

                                In human life this process is so much harder because we anticipate our future, and we fear for what lies ahead. Unlike poor Teddy who had no fear we all view the darkness with trepidation and anxiety. In an ideal world humans would be offered every treatment, every glimmer of hope, and then at the final hour would be offered a pain free escape like Teddy, but I feel this is only an option for animals for the reasons which follow. Making this judgement to allow Euthanasia in humans is not easy since unlike animals we endure dreadful treatments which are designed to cure. You can't give animals large doses of chemotherapy as they are not able to tolerate the symptoms without understanding why. It would be too cruel to use the kind of doses we endure as humans. You can't give adequate pain control because the animal is unable to communicate in words or gestures if it is working.

                                In 1963 a very brave and dedicated lady called Cecily Saunders founded The Hospice Movement when she set up the first hospice St Christopher's to care for dying patients. This was intended to be a place where patients could go to be cared for palliatively when they were in the last stages of their lives. With many diseases there is no cure and so eventually palliative care is needed to make life as comfortable as possible. I believe Euthanasia exists because so far we have been unable to really perfect this stage of life which for many is critical.

                                When a person has a terminal diagnosis a process begins which is an important one. At first there can be so much anger and disbelief, but as time progresses this leads to acceptance and it is such an important time because a person may want to put all their affairs in order. The aim of Dame Cecily was that through expert medical intervention a person could live pain free for many months or years, fully able to do as much as possible, and to be as aware as possible so that their relatives could also remember their last months with joy not sorrow. This overwhelming desire is behind everyone who works in palliative care but we all know that medicine is evolving and that we have yet to treat many aspects of pain and other symptoms effectively. However we must remember this is the aim and the drive which keeps all these health professionals going. It's an evolving process and strides are being made everyday, but still yes some people are in pain and agony and for these Euthanasia is becoming their planned escape.

                                I think some diseases really challenge the medical profession more than others. Long term disability such as that caused by MS, ME and diseases like Motor Neurone are more challenging than others and need special care. However making a decision to end your life I feel is a brave one and one which is very much an individual choice. However it often involves the cooperation of others and this is where it becomes an enormous burden for the person who is left behind after the patient has passed on. The pain this causes can be almost as severe as the suffering the ill person had to bear and it may be life long.


                                How many times have you been through a situation, bad though it is, that has been made easier by the way in which it was handled? When I trained we were taught to always have empathy. By this I mean to put yourself in the position of the person you are caring for and to really imagine how they feel. Kind words and understanding go a long way to help those who face adversity.

                                The goal of the hospice movement has always been to care for all the emotional as well as physical needs and difficulties, so that the patient reaches the end of their lives in comfort and dies with dignity. It is what we all want and what eventually I believe we can achieve. Organisations such as Marie Curie and Macmillan are helping to support people emotionally, but it so important to remember that these organisations are funded primarily from donations and that most of the Hospice funding is raised locally. This vital aspect of care is beyond the budgets of The NHS in many cases and this is where many problems lie.

                                For a person to be happy in their final months they have to be financially supported, lovingly cared for, allowed to follow their dreams whatever they may be-for some it is to stay alive long enough to see the birth of a new grandchild, for others it is to visit a place or a person. They must be pain free and comfortable. For some they yearn to die at home, for others in a hospice. No one in palliative care forgets this and all try so hard to help. When it fails they learn and mourn and when it works they celebrate.

                                Euthanasia is a last resort but to me it represents a failure on the part of the medical team to allow a person to feel they are in control of their lives and their situation. It isn't usually their fault because many factors play a part.

                                Those who commit this final act are brave, but they are also interrupting a natural and dignified process which can be as beautiful as birth itself.

                                For anyone going through this now my heart goes out to you and following are some useful numbers which may help.
                                Please have a look at St Christopher's website to see the work of Dame Cecily. She passed away there in 2005 but her work continues and the centre is a place of happiness and of medical success and is a role model for the entire Hospice movement.
                                www.stchristophers.org.uk

                                The National Council For palliative Care
                                www.ncpc.org.uk

                                Marie Curie
                                www.mariecurie.org.uk.

                                Macmillan Nurses
                                www.macmillan.org.uk

                                Cruse Bereavement Care
                                www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk
                                This charity provides so much help to relatives left behind.

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                                Points of contention are often the conditions under which a medical professional should provide voluntary euthanasia services, what constitutes sound mind, or terminal illness. Religion, spirituality, politics, and society all have a role to play here, so tell us what you make of this tricky and sensitive subject.