Ireland to Marie Fleming: you HAVE to stay alive and suffer


She’s allowed to commit suicide, because suicide was decriminalized in Ireland in 1993. But she has MS, so she can’t commit suicide, and what the state won’t allow is help from someone else.

That’s exactly the situation Eric MacDonald’s wife Elizabeth was in. It’s a bad situation. Knowing you’re going to become ever more disabled, and that the more disabled you are the more suicide becomes physically impossible – it’s terrifying. It could happen to any of us, and it’s terrifying.

Ms Fleming, a former lecturer from County Wicklow, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986.

She is cared for by her partner, Tom Curran, and has two adult children.

The four-day appeal hearing was told that she is in the final stages of MS, can only move her head, cannot swallow and lives in constant pain.

Her legal team argued that the ban on assisted suicide is discriminatory towards severely disabled people.

Lawyers for Ms Fleming told the court that she should be given the same right to die by suicide as an able-bodied person.

But the court ruled no.

Comments

  1. stever says

    The Abrahamic cults are all about suffering. You are supposed to suffer through life, and if you do a good enough job of it there will be pie in the sky when you die. This is the major motivator of the “Pro-Life!!!” gang. It’s not about life, it’s about misery. Why else would they oppose aborting ectopic pregnancies and anencephalic fetuses? Neither has any chance at all of producing a Pwecious Widdle Bayybeee.

  2. iknklast says

    Guess if she got pregnant and had a life-threatening infection, it would be different. Women who want to live? No. Women who want to die? No.

    Ireland has their priorities seriously screwed up. Why do I suspect this all has a lot to do with the church?

  3. says

    I saw the family coming out of the court on TV3 News this evening. The husband made it patently clear that whenever Marie was ready – so be it. He laid out his cards. Period. It was so distressing seeing the sad demeanour of whole family.

  4. thesandiseattle says

    Having had more than one experience with suicide in my family I say Good decision to the court. Until you’ve dealt with a seriously ill person who has lost their sanity, you can’t say shit. Some one who WANTS to die IS NOT SANE.

  5. Ulysses says

    thesandiseattle @4

    Some one who WANTS to die IS NOT SANE.

    No, someone who wants to die is just someone who wants to die. The reasons they want to die may or may not be rational but that’s not your decision to make. Marie Fleming has literally nothing to live for. She’s in constant pain, she’s immobile, she can’t even eat or drink. She feels her life is not worth living any more. That seems perfectly rational to me.

  6. karmacat says

    Are her doctors and family allowed to give her morphine? And would they be allowed to give her enough morphine for the pain even if it suppressed her breathing too much? If she is not able to eat or drink, it is not bad a way to die. But she should definitely get pain meds

  7. MJ says

    #4 were the people you knew completely immobile, unable to eat, drink and living in constant pain? This woman isn’t suffering from a mental illness she is literally a prisoner in her own body and with no possible cure for her condition at this stage do you seriously think forcing her to stay alive when she doesn’t want to live this way is the compassionate and humane thing to do? If she is ready to die then she is ready to die. Dismissing her as insane strikes me as incredibly ignorant and more then a little insulting to people like me who have experienced suicidal tendencies from mental illness. Not all people who want to die are insane.

  8. says

    As someone with a disability, I can’t say that I disagree with the court’s decision in this case. I get the arguments for physician assisted suicide in the cases of terminal illnesses, but…the problem is, it won’t end there.

    We KNOW it won’t, because we’ve seen that road before. We know that the standards of what conditions are considered “death-worthy”, for lack of a better term, would expand. It would expand to include disabilities that are not terminal, or painful, but merely different or odd. It would expand to include people who may well enjoy their lives just fine, on the grounds of “burden to society”. The rules about requiring explicit consent of the patient would be relaxed, slowly but surely, so that noncommunicative people would be “euthanized” for the “greater good”. Autistic people, people with Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, mental illnesses of various sorts…all of them would be in the line of fire.

    Again, we’ve seen it before. I know everyone here is thinking that I am thinking of Nazi Germany’s “Action T4″, and yes, that’s part of it, but Action T4 was inspired by the American eugenics movement. We had mandatory sterilization laws for “undesireables” in the United States, the last of which was repealed in the 1970s. The attitude that some people, those who are too different to fit into the rather narrow mold that society carves out for people, are better off not living because it’s too inconvenient to everyone else…that hasn’t gone away at all. If anything, it may be worse now than in decades past, at least in the United States. I remain dubious that other countries in the West are necessarily better.

    I feel for Ms Fleming, I really do. Her condition is painful and debilitating. But the answer to that is better palliative care, not killing her. The risks to everyone who doesn’t fit society’s model of “abled” are too great if we allow for a “right to die”, because that would inevitably become a “right to be killed”.

  9. trina says

    Ah the good ‘ol slippery slope argument rears it’s head.

    How much palliative care would make you feel better about spending every day completely motionless unable to even swallow on your own?

  10. kevinalexander says

    That’s not a slippery slope, it’s a non sequitur.

    We KNOW it won’t, because we’ve seen that road before.

    No, we haven’t. Flewellyn, what you are describing is a different road. The difference is clearly stated in Ms Flemings petition. She pleads for the right to make her own decisions What you are describing is the opposite. Ironically you claim that if she’s allowed personal autonomy then somehow the state or someone else will take away someone else’s personal autonomy so the solution is…….what?
    You haven’t thought this through. You’re just parroting some emotionally laden propaganda.

  11. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    If an individual chooses for whatever reason to die a lingering, agonising death then they shou;ld have the right to do so – but how dare anyone inflict a lingering, agonising humiliating death upon another individual who does not wish that? That’s a particularly nasty and extreme form of cruelty, whoever, where ever and whenever it happens.

  12. kevinalexander says

    StevoR,
    If you can come up with some legalistic sophistry or, better yet, belong to some ancient sexually obsessed sado-masochistic society with the power to make law in Ireland then you can enjoy others suffering with a ‘get out of guilt’ pass.

  13. says

    You haven’t thought this through. You’re just parroting some emotionally laden propaganda.

    Oh? I haven’t thought about the threat to people like me that the “right to die” movement represents? I haven’t thought about the history of using “their lives are horrible” as an excuse to kill people undervalued by society in the past?

    Like I said, I get the autonomy argument in favor of physician-assisted suicide. If I could be assured that the laws granting the right to physician-assisted suicide would remain rooted in that autonomy argument, and that the regulations regarding when it was allowed would remain strict, and strictly enforced…then I would withdraw my objections.

    Unfortunately, given history, and given the marginalized nature of disability, I can’t get such assurances. And you can’t make them. Put such a law on the books, and it WOULD be broadened.

  14. says

    If you’re wondering how I’m so certain of this, consider: even without assisted suicide being legal in most of the US, doctors routinely attempt to deny care to people with disabilities. Autistic people can tell you of many cases where they were pushed to sign DNR orders against their wishes (most did not), given substandard care and pain management when they refused, and in general treated like “human trash” by the medical professionals who were supposed to help them.

    One recent, and prominent, example of this was the treatment of Amanda Baggs, who is an autistic blogger and has a medical condition that requires her to have a gastric tube to prevent her from aspirating stomach contents. Without treatment, she would die. The surgery itself is routine, simple, and has low chance of complications. When she went in for treatment, however, the doctors repeatedly asked her if she was really sure she was comfortable with “her decision”. They pushed her to sign a DNR order, which she refused. After her surgery, she was ignored by nurses and given almost no pain medication. And, even after the hospital began to receive complaints from her readers, they continued to mistreat her.

    Google the story, it’s appalling. And it should help to explain why people like me do not trust physicians with the power to kill us.

  15. Ulysses says

    I understand now. Flewellyn is afraid that if Fleming is allowed to commit suicide then they will drag Flewellyn off to the death camps for summary execution. The realities of Fleming’s situation aren’t a consideration. Flewellyn prefers Fleming to suffer for years because…well, for no reason except Flewellyn’s fears.

  16. says

    No, I want Ms Fleming to have the best possible palliative care. I don’t want her to suffer.

    In isolation, if there were no other considerations, I’d say sure, let her choose to die and have someone else carry it out. But it’s not in isolation, and I have very concrete reasons to fear for people like me.

  17. says

    There’s no such thing as “palliative care” for being totally paralyzed from the neck down and unable to swallow.

    And it’s so infuriatingly glib the way people reply to “she is in constant pain” with “better palliative care” as if everyone had just forgotten to up the dosage.

  18. neuroturtle says

    There’s a point where the morphine needed for adequate pain relief leaves you out of your mind or totally unconscious. Great way to spend your last days.

  19. says

    DO you think I’m unaware of this? I saw my own mother die a lingering death from cancer, and I know how awful these things can get.

    I just have to draw the line at allowing doctors to actively assist the process of death. If Ms Fleming were to refuse food and water, I would oppose any efforts to intubate her for feeding; she has the right to refuse treatment of any kind. I would oppose any effort to keep her alive longer, since she has expressed that this is against her wishes. But given societal attitudes, the risks are too great if we allow doctors to actively cause death.

    Bigots who would use “they are better off dead” as an excuse to kill people that society devalues are why we can’t have nice things.

  20. rowanvt says

    I am a veterinary technician. This means I deal with euthanasia just about every day. And there are many times when it is a great relief to be able to give that gift to an animal. Like Max, who had a bladder tumor and could not urinate on his own and we were pulling close to a liter of urine every day from this sweet, emaciated lab that couldn’t walk and wasn’t eating. Or my own Diesel who had carcinomatosis and was rapidly going downhill over just 2 days. Or the cat with a nasal tumor that had completely eaten away the maxilla, the nares and parts of the zygomatic arches on both sides.

    This is something I want to be able to choose for myself. My main options for dying, if I don’t get in an accident or get pneumonia or something, are colon cancer or alzheimers. Once *I* feel that life is no longer worth it, I want to be able to go.

  21. rowanvt says

    Good grief, Flew.

    What is so hard for you to grasp about “If the PERSON feels they are better off dead, they should get to die”? Why are you refusing to allow people a chance to die with dignity and without pain should THEY so desire? Oh, you’re afraid we’ll slip down to death panels so therefore people have to die in agony because YOU are afraid.

  22. says

    Piles of straw here. I’m all in favor of people having the autonomy to declare what treatments they will and won’t get, to refuse treatment, to even refuse food and water, to direct their care as they choose, and yes, to die if they wish, without physicians attempting to save their lives when they don’t want it.

    What I’m not in favor of is physicians actively causing death. Because the risks are far too great if we allow that.

    How the idea of “physicians actively causing death has far too much dangerous precedent behind it of leading to involuntary euthanasia” gets translated into “I don’t care if they die in agony” is beyond me. THAT sounds like the emotionally laden propaganda.

  23. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    You’re so far into paranoia land, Flewellyn, that you can’t think straight and you’ve got your ethical compass pointed backward. Systemic abuse of disabled people is real. Suspicion is totally justified. Arguing about state ordered eugenic killings is fucking deranged. And it’s morally reprehensible—I mean to say you’re being disgustingly selfish—to argue for the continued suffering of others for your own peace of mind. Yes, yes, you are arguing for that, full stop. Don’t pretend that you don’t understand that “palliative care” is a category error for people like Fleming. You know it, and I think you have to be actively lying to yourself to avoid owning up to it.

  24. says

    @ 20 – how the hell should I know what you’re aware of? I don’t know you. I know only what you’ve said on this thread.

    And you’re claiming that a hypothetical is good enough reason to refuse disabled people the legal right to get physical help to end their lives.

  25. says

    You’re so far into paranoia land, Flewellyn, that you can’t think straight and you’ve got your ethical compass pointed backward. Systemic abuse of disabled people is real. Suspicion is totally justified. Arguing about state ordered eugenic killings is fucking deranged.

    IS it? Google Amanda Baggs’s case again. Look up the number of parents who have said that they wished their autistic or Downs’ syndrome kids were dead. Look at how parents who DO kill their disabled children get slaps on the wrist from the state.

    It doesn’t have to be “state-ordered” to be condoned. And it’s not hypothetical. This shit HAPPENS NOW, and it’s EXCUSED and CONDONED. And if doctors were legally allowed to “assist in suicide”, then it would happen even more. I know this because that’s what has historically happened when doctors were given such power.

    And it’s morally reprehensible—I mean to say you’re being disgustingly selfish—to argue for the continued suffering of others for your own peace of mind. Yes, yes, you are arguing for that, full stop. Don’t pretend that you don’t understand that “palliative care” is a category error for people like Fleming. You know it, and I think you have to be actively lying to yourself to avoid owning up to it.

    Again, no. I have seen loved ones die slowly from painful illnesses, and I woud do everything in my power to stop anyone else from having to go through that…except kill them. Anything that could help them die more peacefully, in less pain, fine, as long as it’s not actively killing them. If they choose to refuse food and water, for instance, I would say “Fine, just keep their mouths wet so that they don’t feel deprived.”

    Calling it morally reprehensible to object to doctors killing people (and yes, that is what you are arguing for; killing by request of the killed is still killing) seems rather bass-ackwards to me.

  26. says

    how the hell should I know what you’re aware of? I don’t know you. I know only what you’ve said on this thread.

    That’s a fair point, so here, some background: I am autistic, and come from a family in which autism is quite common. My mother died of cancer, her grandmother died of Alzheimer’s (which I also witnessed), my father and my sister both have chronic pain, I have worked with Hospice and with disability organizations as a volunteer, and I’ve been active in the disability rights community since I was a teenager.

    I know my shit when it comes to this stuff, alright? I do not speak from paranoia, but from bitter experience.

  27. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    I know real abuses happen. You don’t need to convince me of this. I’m sold. Been sold.

    That is not the issue. The issue is that you think it’s fine for people like Fleming to suffer (yes, you do and don’t you dare say you don’t) because you think their exercising control over their own situation will lead to state sanctioned killing. You don’t care about Fleming or anyone else who’s TELLING YOU they want to die and how they want it done. You’ve good reason to view the medical system the way you do—again, you don’t have to convince me. I believe what you say is true. But you’ve allowed it to warp your thinking so badly that you don’t realize how profoundly immoral it’s made your judgment. I’m sorry, but it is profoundly warped, and morally appalling. I wish you could see that. But until you can you will be fought back against very hard because you’re doing damage.

  28. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    And you are in a position of extreme privilege relative to Fleming. You are NOT the victim here. You are doing the oppressing.

  29. says

    The issue is that you think it’s fine for people like Fleming to suffer (yes, you do and don’t you dare say you don’t)

    I will bloody well dare to say I don’t, because I don’t. I want her to have every kind of relief that there can be, up to and including withholding treatment that would prolong her life, if she directs it so. As I said above, if she refuses food and water, that should be respected.

    But we cannot, we MUST NOT, let doctors actively cause death. Ever.

    If you think that me saying that means that I want Ms Fleming to suffer, and that I’m therefor morally warped, then I have no words for you. Your ability to comprehend what I am actually saying is clearly compromised.

  30. rowanvt says

    Flew, do you really think that starving to death, or dying of dehydration, is painless? It’s a terrible and painful way to die, and can be quite slow. But you’re fine with dying in agony (don’t quibble this. If people are in agony, and you won’t let them end it PAINLESSLY you ARE wanting them to die in agony) because god forbid a patient tell a doctor to OD them on morphine or some other sedative as clearly that wish will lead to you being rounded up like cattle and killed.

  31. says

    Also: telling another person what they think, especially a disabled person? TOTALLY out of line. Way beyond. As in, you are here, the line is a few light years back that way.

    Don’t do that again.

  32. says

    Flew, do you really think that starving to death, or dying of dehydration, is painless?

    Dehydration is actually quite painless, if the mouth is kept moist.

  33. rowanvt says

    Actually, not. Because it results in a build up of BUN and Creatinine in the blood system as the kidneys begin to lack liquid to filter such waste products out. These products are irritants and especially love to irritate the lining of the stomach, causing extreme nausea and vomiting. Also, in severe dehydration, the mouth/throat cannot be ‘kept moist’ as the body sucks that fluid in as an attempt to save itself.

    I have taken care of severely dehydrated animals and it can days on IV fluids before the mucous membranes lose that tackyness.

  34. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    I’ll say what I damned well please. You are out of line for acting as if you speak For The Disabled. You’re not the fucking Lorax. And you ARE exercising considerable privilege. I’d love to see what you’d say to Fleming to her face.

  35. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Has no one ever called you up short, Flewellyn? Have you never encountered someone who said, “You know what? Your being disabled doesn’t put you on a not-to-be-contradicted list.” Have you never entertained the idea that you might, in fact, be relatively privileged in an intersectional way and that you might be capable of doing and saying damaging things?

    This genuinely seems to shock you.

  36. says

    I’ll say what I damned well please. You are out of line for acting as if you speak For The Disabled. You’re not the fucking Lorax. And you ARE exercising considerable privilege. I’d love to see what you’d say to Fleming to her face.

    I think you think I think something that I don’t think I think. I speak for me, as a person with disability who has seen these problems. I speak for those who think as I do among the disabled, which is a number of us. I speak from my perspective. I don’t know what “you don’t speak for all of them” is supposed to accomplish as far as an argument goes.

    As for what I’d tell Ms Fleming to her face…I don’t know. I would probably say “I am really sorry you’re in pain, is there anything I can do to help?” And then I would do it, as long as it wasn’t killing her. Because that would be murder.

  37. rowanvt says

    And then I would do it, as long as it wasn’t killing her. Because that would be murder.

    Ah, here is maybe an insight into your underlying problem. You think it is murder if someone helps someone else to die, even if they want to die. By definition of law, that would be correct. Morally? No. It is not murder. It is compassion.

  38. says

    Has no one ever called you up short, Flewellyn? Have you never encountered someone who said, “You know what? Your being disabled doesn’t put you on a not-to-be-contradicted list.” Have you never entertained the idea that you might, in fact, be relatively privileged in an intersectional way and that you might be capable of doing and saying damaging things?

    Dude, what the fuck?

    What I said was, don’t tell me what I am thinking. Don’t say that my position is X, when I have clearly articulated that my position is Y.

    By all means, if you disagree with me, of course say so. If you want to know what I’m thinking, ask. If you think I’m wrong, specify how and why. Go for it. But don’t tell me that my thoughts are X, because then you are asserting that you know my mind better than I do.

    Can you tell the difference between “I am hearing your argument as X” and “You think X”? Can you tell the difference between “Do you see how this is an issue of autonomy and personal dignity?” and “You don’t care if she suffers!”?

    As for saying damaging things…I’m not the one who is arguing that certain lives aren’t worth living.

  39. rowanvt says

    But you DON”T care if she suffers. You may not think that, but your actions speak volumes. And your actions would be to not let her die quickly and peacefully.

  40. says

    Ah, here is maybe an insight into your underlying problem. You think it is murder if someone helps someone else to die, even if they want to die. By definition of law, that would be correct. Morally? No. It is not murder. It is compassion.

    Perhaps. I can see the argument for it…in a case like this.

    The ONLY way I could support something close to physician-assisted suicide would be like this:

    1) The patient must be clearly terminal with an end not that far away.
    2) Must bring it up. Themselves. On two different occasions. Without prompting.
    3) The doctor then prescribes the agents.
    4) which the patient takes home.
    5) and can take whenever they damn well want after that time. But they must take them themselves.

    Okay? Given to the patient, which the patient then takes. NOT administered by the doctor, or by a professional caregiver of any sort.

    If the lethal agents were administered by a loved one…AND we had clear evidence that the decedent had indeed wished for this to happen…I would argue for leniency. Dismissal of murder charges, or reduced charges, perhaps.

    That would be…far enough on this side of the line that I would not fear escalation to coercion. Much. I’d still be keeping my eyes on the practice.

  41. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Flew—that site is very misleading. Are you aware of this?

    The link you cited, for example, claims of Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act:

    “The Act also contains coercive provisions. For example, it allows an heir who will benefit from the patient’s death to help the patient sign up for the lethal dose. .”

    This is seriously misleading. The statute does require, it is true, that only one of two witnesses to the patient signing the request (not “helping”, witnessing) be unrelated and not an heir. But if one is to rule out any involvement from anyone who would be an heir you’d be barring family members the patient may want and need as an advocate. I find it impossible to believe that those writing this cannot think of any way under the sun to safeguard against coercion in such situations.

    That’s just one of many ways the site elides procedural safeguards built in to the law to make it look much more easy to exploit than it actually is.

  42. rowanvt says

    What if the person *can’t*, physically, take the medications themselves? Like the person this thread is about, who is paralyzed. And can’t swallow.

    What then? They’re screwed and get to spend their final days/months in horrific pain because what? You are afraid for yourself?

  43. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    As for saying damaging things…I’m not the one who is arguing that certain lives aren’t worth living.

    No. It’s people like Fleming who are telling you this about their own lives.

    You do not get to pull this bullshit. That is a transparent attempt to paint people with my position as making judgments about the worth of other people’s lives in a manner akin to eugenics. You may not do this. It’s lying.

    It is you, Flewellyn, who is arrogating to himself the right to decide that all lives are worth living even when the person is begging for release. YOU are doing this. Not me.

  44. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Flewellyn, are you aware that these laws never allow a caregiver or physician to administer the dose? You don’t seem to be.

  45. says

    What if the person *can’t*, physically, take the medications themselves? Like the person this thread is about, who is paralyzed. And can’t swallow.

    What then? They’re screwed and get to spend their final days/months in horrific pain because what? You are afraid for yourself?

    That’s why I put in the part about how if it were administered by a loved one, after clear demonstration of the decedent’s desire for death, that they shouldn’t be charged.

    Also, you and others keep implying that my fear is just for me. As autistic people go, I’m in a relatively secure position. I live independently, I support myself, I “pass” well enough most of the time, and nobody has tried to kill me yet. I can’t say the same for many of my peers, some of whom have been assaulted without recourse; they weren’t believed because of course a “good”, normal person wouldn’t attack a disabled person!

    And it’s not just autistic people, it’s people with Downs syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, dementia or Alzheimer’s or even just being too old and cranky…I fear for them as well.

    So stop trying to portray me as selfish for wanting to safeguard the lives of disabled people. That kind of rhetoric is…disturbingly familiar, let’s say.

  46. says

    You do not get to pull this bullshit. That is a transparent attempt to paint people with my position as making judgments about the worth of other people’s lives in a manner akin to eugenics. You may not do this. It’s lying.

    It is you, Flewellyn, who is arrogating to himself the right to decide that all lives are worth living even when the person is begging for release. YOU are doing this. Not me.

    If the first paragraph holds, and I can’t say that, then the second paragraph violates the same principle. You are lying about my position.

  47. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    No. No. You clearly implied that I was “saying lives weren’t worth living.” That’s not controversial. You said. It’s right there. Do you not understand that?

  48. says

    And YOU said that I don’t care about people who are suffering. That’s right there, too.

    So if me saying that your argument was implying some lives aren’t worth living is not cool, then neither is you saying that I don’t care about people’s suffering. You can’t have one rule for thee and another for me.

  49. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    The thing I most resent about these conversations is the way they artificially pit people against each other who actually share common interests. I am beyond appalled at the systemic abuse and neglect of people with disabilities; just the way I’m horrified by every instance of system extortion and abuse of less powerful people by powerful systems.

    However I am capable of understanding that fighting against that does not require ensuring the suffering of others. I understand that slippery slopes have to stop somewhere.

  50. rowanvt says

    Some lives aren’t worth living. Per the people living them. Josh is not trying to say which lives those are. I’m not trying to say which lives those are. We are for the *individuals* to say that their *own* lives are not worth living. And being able to end that life.

    You don’t want them to end their life, because you somehow equate choosing to die with forced euthanasia. That would be equivalent to saying because I sterilize my pets, I want to sterilize all animals. Or because I don’t want children, everyone will be made to have abortions.

    An individual choosing to die, even physician assisted, does straight up lead to rounding up people with disabilities who have no desire to die and killing them. The one does NOT lead to the other.

  51. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Flew–I acknowledge that it’s rude and provocative to tell other people what they think. I know how I feel when people do it to me. But I know of no other way to make it plain that your actions do not square with your words. You may believe you care about suffering very much, but there is a point where you do not care. That point is when someone like Fleming is telling you the only way to end her suffering is to die. Not to have her mouth kept wet. Not to be on X amount of morphine.

    No, I don’t think you’d relish contemplating her suffering. I’m sure it would distress you. I don’t think you’re a monster.

    But I’m afraid you don’t care enough. You are willing to let people like her suffer to prevent an evil that can be mitigated in other ways. That’s not caring, no matter what you intend or feel.

    I’m sorry, but there are consequences to saying things that you say. This is one of them.

  52. says

    Josh, did you see the framework I laid out above in which I would be okay with some kind of physician-assisted suicide? It’s the absolute outside edge of what I consider safe.

    And it would require, REQUIRE, that the patient’s consent be explicit, and expressed clearly, at every step of the way. And no assumption of consent. Living wills could not specify it, they could only specify what they do now: what measures may or may not be taken to save life, when to stop attempting to preserve life, and so forth.

    Trouble is, we know how good this culture is with understanding consent, don’t we? Rape culture is one major manifestation of how our culture, in general, assumes that the consent of some people doesn’t matter. Disregard for the rights of the disabled is another.

    So…sure, we can have physician-assisted suicide…when we have a culture that respects and understands consent.

  53. Cipher says

    If any legal right to die is going to be ethical, it has to take concerns like Flewellyn’s into account, and engage actively and energetically with the fact of a profoundly ableist society, every step of the way. Dismissing the fear that these decisions will be used as a bludgeon to do further violence against disabled people, when faced with the reality that similar violence is routine, as the product of paranoia or selfishness is damaging and disingenuous, and I would say constitutes a failure to do intersectionality right. This should be a simple issue. It should. It should be a simple matter of autonomy. Ms. Fleming should be able to find relief in whatever way she wants to. But everything is bullshit, so it’s not simple, and it’s not just this one case, and pointing out the complications, when those complications include systematic threats to one’s life or the lives of others, is not selfish or immoral.

  54. rowanvt says

    When I had appendicitis, I had to fill out a consent form for surgery. I could have chosen to go home, and died, or taken my chances with just antibiotics. It is almost impossible for a woman, despite clear consent, to get sterilized if she wants to be.

  55. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    No. Stop, Cipher. What I’m objecting to is:

    1. Asserting a direct causative connection between DwD and state-sanctioned killing.

    2. Making it nearly impossible to design a system that allows a Fleming to die with dignity because of the utter irrational certainty that it will be used to support state killing.

    I am not denying abuses. I am objecting to the characterization of the issue. When you read some of the objections cited by self-styled advocates you find them to be highly misleading and full of elisions. Much of this is straight out of the “Terri Schiavo was disabled and you killed a disabled person” playbook. Really. That should disturb people of good will.

    Abuses are real. Exploitation is real. Exaggerating (yes, some of this very much is exaggeration and elision. That does not mean that genuine fears are being dismissed) wildly is not necessary to acknowledge this. Dismissing the suffering of others is not necessary. It’s also not moral.

  56. Ulysses says

    Flewellyn,

    You’re right, we can’t say what you think. However we can comment on what you write. You’ve said that you pity Fleming, you wish you could help her, but you don’t want her to die. She wants to die. She has said so in so many words. But because of your fears, you want (and yes, this is what you WANT) her to live in pain and die an agonizing death instead of dying quickly and peacefully.

    I had a cat with cancer. One day she was in obvious pain and so I took her to the vet to be killed quickly and painlessly. When I told my friends and family about having the cat euthanized, nobody called me a monster or said I’d done anything evil. As one coworker said: “It’s a pet owner’s duty to their pets to have them be put to sleep when it’s time to do so.” But you think it’s evil and monstrous for the same thing to happen to people “when it’s time to do so.”

    You’re afraid that you’ll be killed because you’re disabled. As a result you will deny anyone the right to die when they want to. If there’s anyone in this conversation who’s evil and monstrous, it’s you. Sorry if that upsets you. Your evil upsets me.

  57. says

    You’re right, we can’t say what you think. However we can comment on what you write. You’ve said that you pity Fleming, you wish you could help her, but you don’t want her to die. She wants to die. She has said so in so many words. But because of your fears, you want (and yes, this is what you WANT) her to live in pain and die an agonizing death instead of dying quickly and peacefully.

    No, you are being deliberately disingenuous here. What I said was that I don’t want her to BE KILLED. And actually, I’ve moderated that a bit. I don’t want her to be killed without a very careful, very explicit procedure in place to ensure that this is really what she wants and that she’s not being coerced into saying so. Did you even read the rest of the thread?

    I had a cat with cancer. One day she was in obvious pain and so I took her to the vet to be killed quickly and painlessly. When I told my friends and family about having the cat euthanized, nobody called me a monster or said I’d done anything evil. As one coworker said: “It’s a pet owner’s duty to their pets to have them be put to sleep when it’s time to do so.” But you think it’s evil and monstrous for the same thing to happen to people “when it’s time to do so.”

    Cats are not humans. I have had cats too, and I loved them all, but they are not human beings.

    You’re afraid that you’ll be killed because you’re disabled. As a result you will deny anyone the right to die when they want to. If there’s anyone in this conversation who’s evil and monstrous, it’s you. Sorry if that upsets you. Your evil upsets me.

    I love being called “evil and monstrous” for expressing very reasonable concerns that allowing physicians to actively end people’s lives would be abused. That people with disabilities, not just me, but MANY of them, would be coerced into “ending their suffering” when they don’t really want to, or would have their consent disregarded entirely on the matter.

    I mean, holy ableist bullshit, Batman. I seriously don’t understand how you can say “You’re evil and monstrous for wanting to safeguard the lives of people who society traditionally considers less-than”. Because that is what you are saying.

    Seriously. That is what you are saying.

  58. Ulysses says

    What I said was that I don’t want her to BE KILLED.

    No, you want her to die in pain and agony because you’re afraid that if she died with dignity then they (they being them) would drag you off and kill you. You’re an evil monster who doesn’t want Fleming to die like she wants to because of your fears.

    Yes, I’m calling you an evil monster because you don’t want a person who wants to die the opportunity to die. Sure, you’ll let her die in pain and agony but for her to die easily and peacefully? No, that’s too much for you because you’re afraid. How does it feel to know you’re an evil monster? Does it give you joy arguing against another person’s rights because of your fears? Will you sleep well tonight knowing you’re arguing that another person suffer pain because you’re more important than them? Are you happy that you want Fleming to live in pain? Seriously, that’s what you’re saying.

  59. Ulysses says

    Cats are not humans. I have had cats too, and I loved them all, but they are not human beings.

    Right, that’s why you’ll let a cat have an easy, painless death but want to deny that opportunity to a human being. You’re willing to let a less-than-human cat die easily but you don’t want humans to die equally easily. You want humans to die slow, painful deaths because of your fears. And you pretend you’re not a evil monster who has more regard for a cat than a human.

  60. says

    Alright. That’s enough of that bullshit.

    There is argumentation, and then there is gaslighting and abuse. The latter is what you are doing.

    Also, you are acting like a religious person, saying that because I don’t agree with you on this matter, I’m evil and horrible. That’s fundamentalist dogmatism, not rational argument. It has no place here.

  61. rowanvt says

    I don’t think you are evil, or horrible.

    I do however think you have a slightly broken sense of empathy. You seem to have it in the abstract (not wanting other people with disabilities to be killed against their will) but not on the individual level (thinking it is bad for a woman who cannot kill herself to have a doctor assist, thereby wanting her to continue suffering).

  62. says

    OH CLASSIC!

    Telling an autistic person that he has a broken sense of empathy! We’ve NEVER HEARD THAT BEFORE.

    *sigh* I’ma let that slide.

    Did you not see what I said above, about what framework I would want to see in place before I would consider physician-assisted suicide to be okay? It’s not absolutist. It provides for the means, while safeguarding the patient from coercion.

    In isolation, I think Ms Fleming should probably be allowed to die as she wishes. But, as I repeatedly said, nothing in the world happens in isolation. And the precedent is dangerous to set, without a strict framework in place to make sure it’s not abused.

    Why’s that so hard to accept?

  63. rowanvt says

    I wasn’t even thinking autism with regards to empathy. Are you unaware that plenty of allistic people have broken empathy too? Just look at many of the religious! One of my own coworkers said that poor people want to be drowning in babies, that poor women would never want birth control. That is broken empathy right there.

    Because your ‘dangerous precedent’ isn’t? It’s like people saying gay marriage will ruin straight marriage and cause everyone to turn gay. We already allow families and physicians to take people off live support. If that’s not a dangerous precedent then someone saying “I want to die, please help me do so” won’t be, either. You are acting paranoid.

  64. Cipher says

    Josh, (I’m not trying to do a gotcha, this is my first time talking about this particular issue since I stopped being a libertarian and I’m not good at it yet) could you point to which part of my post you were specifically disagreeing with? Because while I think that your initial “paranoia land” post was out of line, I think you’ve been probably the least dismissive here of the reality and depth of the problem, so my post wasn’t meant to call out you only.

    I do however think you have a slightly broken sense of empathy.

    Always a fanfuckingtastic thing to say to an autistic person. Not in any way charged with ableism. Nope. Neither is analyzing the specific ways in which you think he’s broken.

  65. Cipher says

    I wasn’t even thinking autism with regards to empathy.

    Yeah no. Your lovely egalitarian intentions don’t remove the social context wherein the claim that autistic people don’t have empathy is used to argue that they are missing a fundamental part of being human. That shit is not okay.

  66. Siobhan says

    It is a side effect of conversations like this that it isn’t possible to include or disclaim everything. It is, however, possible to actually read what people have said, and not read INTO what was said. It is possible to not go overboard and over interpret and put words in people’s mouths.

    Y’all are putting words in Flewellyn’s mouth. Xe’s trying to talk about one specific point, and object to one specific thing, and folks here are jamming way more into what’s being said than what is actually there. Then yelling at xir for what they’re claiming has been said.

    There’s a difference between this situation:
    a suffering person who wishes to end their existence after careful consideration of their situation and with the concurrence of their medical team that their prognosis is bleak
    and this one:
    allowing doctors to decide that some people are suffering too much and that they’re allowed to kill them

    They are two separate situations. Different issues. Different degrees of authority conferred up different people.

    There are very legitimate concerns with giving doctors the authority to decide that an individual’s suffering is so great that they should no longer wish to live to make it possible for them to decide to end that individual’s life. Just in recent weeks, doctors in a good hospital (that I have personally had very good surgical experiences in), an autistic person who needed surgery to live, routine surgery, and this person was being questioned, double guessed, pushed, and encouraged to not get this surgery, that was NEEDED TO CONTINUE LIVING. If the person in question had not been autistic, there would not have been any question about performing the surgery. The surgery was the standard of care for the condition xe had. (links to discussions of this situation have been provided previously in this thread, google Amanda Baggs if you can’t find the links)

    This was just a few weeks ago (and it is still ongoing), in a generally liberal state in the US.

    Doctors are as biased, and ableist, and bigoted, and racist, and flawed as every other human being on this planet. They are also uniquely placed to be able to enact GREATER HARM than most individuals. Because of their privilege of education and expertise, it is incredibly easy for them to be blind to that privilege, and to ignore the concerns, preferences, and desires of the patients they are treating because they “know better”.

    This happens, far too frequently for comfort, and to even the most reasonably fit and health-privileged individuals out there. It happens even MORE to folks with disabilities. This is something folks with disabilities struggle against ALL the TIME. This isn’t some hysterical, unreasoning terror of spooks in the shadows. This is a real, serious, life-threatening situation that disabled people are faced with nearly every time the come into contact with mainstream medical practitioners.

    So it is not unreasonable for folks with disabilities to express serious reservations when the idea of giving doctors the authority to “end the suffering” of people the doctors may not consider able to make a reasoned decision in this matter. Doctors simply shouldn’t have that authority over individuals.

    Now, the issue of an individual choosing their own time and preference for death, that’s a different issue.

    What I do wonder, Flewellyn, if you still have the energy to discuss this after the unjust hammering you’ve been taking is this (and please keep in mind that I tried to read everything, but I haven’t necessarily comprehended all that’s been said in this thread, so I apologize if I’m asking a question that’s been asked before):

    If an individual is in a position such as the person originally cited. Their prognosis is grim, full of pain, and there is no chance of recovery. They are mentally acute enough to express their desires in the situation, and are otherwise competent to decide that they wish for this existence to cease, would you then consider it acceptable for a doctor to provide anti anxiety meds and a lethal dose of, say, morphine to the patient, and a means by which they can administer the dose to themselves (in the case of the woman cited originally, perhaps a button she can push with her tongue)? So long as it was very clear to, say, an outside panel of individuals not otherwise involved with the case at all, who could agree that this is what the individual absolutely wanted?

  67. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    Oh wow. That’s one hell of a shitshow. I think Flew is honestly really justified in worrying about the fact that we have a society where even the open murder of disabled people is considered merciful. That people are willing to take up the cause of pleading for leniency towards actual people who murder disabled family who are actually pretty into the whole living thing. Society is fucked that way, and you can’t deny it. I do support DwD laws, though, because of the whole bodily autonomy thing. Fundamentally, that choice should be a person’s to make, including if they aren’t physically capable of acting on it fully themselves. I think, in those circumstances, as long as free, informed consent, documented every step of the process. On the other hand, a lot of you are being astonishingly shitty to Flew, and scarily ableist. And should maybe feel bad for that.

  68. Skeptical Atheist says

    Making a blanket statement that “all autistic people are incapable of empathy” would be ableism. Saying you think person “A” isn’t being emphatic because of “stated reasons” is not ableism.

  69. The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says

    I must agree with HappiestSadist here.

    Josh you absolutely have a good point.

    And it’s also true a cat or dog is not equivalent to a human… a cat or dog, for instance, can’t unambiguously vocalize or write down “my life has become unbearable and I’m ready to die with dignity now”. Pet owners are reduced to subjective judgements of when their pets are “Ready to go”, and FWIW I think usually owners who are truly connected to their pets make the right call. But still.

    And still, Happiestsadist is right, a lot of you are bein’ kinda shitty and ableist to Flew, and as an autistic person I myself would be an idiot to dismiss his concerns as unfounded. Even though I do think he’s taking it a little far and ignoring some very valid points.

  70. kellyw. says

    Those with massive privilege blinders on need to listen to Flew. You know, someone who this directly affects. You completely ignore the history of the eugenics movement and the after effects because “everyone” has autonomy. In a perfect world, every individual makes for themselves decisions regarding their own life and body. That does not happen today. People with disabilities are often forced into doing things or have things done to them without their consent. I strongly encourage people to visit notdeadyet. I probably can’t post links, so please google.

    And don’t compare a human life to that of a non-human animal. Just don’t even. That’s dehumanizing.

  71. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Incredible. Not a person who’ll acknowledge that Fleming has any interests in this? Not one person will tackle the admittedly thorny, but very real issue that someone like Flewellyn is in a position of massive privilege relative to Fleming? That Fleming herself and others like her are profoundly disabled in ways none of us (NONE of us here) can really imagine? No one? Really?

    This is the sort of thing makes me want to not engage in good faith. It makes me angry to work at acknowledging legitimate concerns because, well, you feel like someone sucker punched you when they don’t reciprocate.

    This is not a situation of clear ethical lines, and Flewellyn himself has made some very problematic statements that have horrendous ethical implications. I’ve pointed these out. They’re real. It’s not an attempt to gotcha anybody.

    And it doesn’t matter. The die has been cast. There is no conversation, and no mutual willingness to own up to our bullshit.

    This is the very definition of pathetic and soul-sucking. I don’t think anyone here is a monster, but they damn sure aren’t blameless either. But it’s scripted now, isn’t it? Give no quarter. Ignore when your opponent is right; ignore her when she candidly and honestly says “Yes, I get that these are real concerns. They’re not fake.” Nope. Your opponent just Doesn’t Listen To Disabled People.

    I hate this. I hate what it makes me feel like, I hate the ill will it breeds, I hate the way it puts good people at odds.

    But mostly I hate the smug lack of self reflection and hiding behind You’re Ableist to stifle conversation. That’s a thing. It’s real, despite the fact that the accusation is usually made in bad faith by people with an ulterior motive. I know that and regret it. But it’s this thread.

  72. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Those with massive privilege blinders on need to listen to Flew. You know, someone who this directly affects.

    Who, apparently, doesn’t need to listen to a fucking quadriplegic woman in agony begging to die, who went all the way to court to demonstrate her clear INTENT and lack of coercion. No. She doesn’t matter.

    What the fuck is wrong with some of you? I’m serious. What is WRONG that you can’t see this?

  73. The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says

    No josh, you’re right, the risk of abuse really is no reason to deny someone their rights over their own body- any more than the fact that some misogynistic cultures practice unacceptable forms of sex-selective abortion is any justification for not being pro choice.

  74. ischemgeek says

    People need to quit trying to pretend this issue is cut-and-dry or simple. There is nuance here.

    Not in the least of which is that – in my country – involuntary sterilization has happened in the past 30 years. Neglecting disabled people to death happens systemically and regularly. We live in a world where people routinely – and, apparently, without any comprehension of the splash damage this does – express that people with certain disabilities are inhuman, animalistic, empty shells, better off dead, or dead themselves.

    Before people accuse me of being reactionary or knee-jerk, I’ll put this out here: I am in favor of assisted suicide. With appropriate safeguards, it can provide relief to those who are suffering incurably and terminally.

    And yet, I have to say you’d be at best woefully ignorant of our history and culture of ableism to brush off the concerns of the disabled as illogical or propaganda. They are saying that they’re worried they’ll be murdered if we let this through.

    Their fears are real and valid, and if you don’t think they are, that’s ignorance talking. In a world where the Pillow Angel happened (google that), in a world where the Amanda Baggs situation happened, in a world where parents of disabled children routinely wish their children were dead, in a world where disabled people are often murdered or killed through medical neglect, and so on – saying the fears of the disabled that euthanasia could be broadened to include the non-consenting or those who cannot give unambiguous consent is like telling a black person they’re wrong to be wary of cops or a woman she’s wrong to be wary of strange men who scream catcalls at her on the street.

    Shame on all of you who claim to be allies who are using ableism and ableist insults to dismiss these concerns. How can you claim to be any better than the Slymepit? These “arguments” – telling an autistic his empathy is broken, for example – are no better than what I’d find there. I expect more here, and I’m disappointed.

    Rather than resorting to ableist bigotry, here’s a novel fucking thought: how about listening and working with Flewellyn and people like him to ensure that we don’t repeat massacres and tragedies of the past?

  75. says

    Those with massive privilege blinders on need to listen to Flew. You know, someone who this directly affects.

    Wait a minute; what what what? How does this directly affect Flew any more than it does anyone else? We all have the potential to be in Marie Fleming’s situation. This directly affects all of us. No, Flew’s fear of the hypothetical of being killed for being autistic does not trump other people’s fear of the non-hypothetical situation of Marie Fleming.

  76. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Thank you, thank you. It SCARES me that people don’t see this. It enrages me that they willfully ignore it. I literally don’t comprehend the stance “The most extreme abuse of the system will always happen, cannot not happen, and I will not work with you to find ways to protect both of our interests. I’m happy you’re not allowed to do this thing.”

    It’s depraved. You all already have me as a fellow in arms against exploitation and abuse. Really. My calling you out on fringe exaggerations is not denying the reality of your experience.

    But I don’t have you in return. You don’t care enough—that’s right, I’m asserting that you don’t care enough and that you’re willing to ignore some suffering, and I mean it—about the very real problems of friends and family of mine I’ve seen live in HELL because they had to “die naturally.” No, it wasn’t a case of substandard palliative care. None of your excuses can cover up that you don’t care enough to CARE BACK.

    Assholes.

  77. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Just so Ophelia. It’s stunningly solipsistic. . almost sublime. This is the very textbook definition of arrogant, compassionless, selfish, hypocritical co-optation. It’s pure privilege. What a disgusting spectacle.

  78. The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says

    Thing is Josh, it’s not just a hypothetical worst case scenario necessarily. Nonverbal autistic patients have had DNR forms literally shoved in their faces. Flew’s concerns are absolutely valid.

  79. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    I know I should stop, but in for a penny in for 100 pounds.

    The reason this makes me so angry (aside from the obvious) is because of my own (limited) work on right to die issues. It’s because I’ve been through this with genuinely bad people—the save Terri Schiavo crew. Some of this right here on this thread is exactly the same thing. Really. I’m not saying that to insult.

    You damn well better wake up and remember how to discriminate between legitimate fears of real abuses that are really happening and the fantasy world crap. There is a difference.

  80. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    If one more of you talks to me like I’ve EVER said Flewellyn’s concerns are fake I swear to God I’m going to scream. Read the fucking thread. Do your work. Stop eliding through neglect.

  81. rowanvt says

    I am sorry for using a charge of broken empathy in a way that is apparently potentially disabling to someone with autism.

    But this does not change the reality of how Flew is reacting to THIS INDIVIDUAL who wants to die. This denial of her right to die, out of fear for themselves and others, shows an appalling lack of compassion for her situation.

    Just as abortion being legal does not result (despite what the right wingers say) in doctors saying “You can have an abortion, therefor you should get an abortion even though you want this pregnancy”, neither will right-to-die result in doctors saying “You aren’t completely 100% normal therefor now that you can choose to die, you should choose to kill yourself.”

  82. The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says

    I guess what it comes down to for me is , I don’t want to tone police anyone here, but why in fuck can’t we have a discussion about the two conflicting issues? Because both points are extremely valid.

    YES people should have the right do die if they choose of their own will.

    YES there is a tremendous potential for abuse of the disabled if there aren’t a lot of safeguards in place here.

  83. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    We can, Coyote. Some people are trying. We’re just fed up with bad faith and hearing fringe bullshit talking points used over and over and over and over and over. You think this is bad? Try dealing with it when lobbying for a right to die bill. It doesn’t matter how many safeguards you put in—there literally will not be enough to satisfy some people, and they’re willing to be dishonest (even if unconsciously) to make sure it won’t happen. Seen it for years and years. It’s just that it’s usually coming from Catholics.

  84. The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says

    But Josh, Flew isn’t a catholic wingnut arguing solely from bad faith. He does have valid points, even if I disagree with much of what his overall conclusion seems to be.

  85. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    But Coyote, some of his sources come from the same shady and dishonest propaganda they use. I’m trying to make him aware of this.

    We all have a responsibility to engage honestly and acknowledge when flaws in our logic are pointed out, or when what we are saying is contradicted. My opponents in this conversation are not doing that.

    This is really very simple. It’s not hard to understand. I know you don’t mean to imply that intent excuses sloppiness and refusal to fix that sloppiness, but that’s how it sounds.

  86. ischemgeek says

    For the record: I’ve read the entirety of this thread.

    If one more of you talks to me like I’ve EVER said Flewellyn’s concerns are fake I swear to God I’m going to scream. Read the fucking thread. Do your work. Stop eliding through neglect.

    Oh really?

    You damn well better wake up and remember how to discriminate between legitimate fears of real abuses that are really happening and the fantasy world crap. There is a difference.

    Emphasis mine.

    That looks a hell of a lot to me like you’re calling Flew’s concerns fantasy – i.e., illogical and unfounded.

    They’re not. This has happened in the past. Under the guise of “mercy.” And relieving the suffering of the terminally ill and those in chronic intractable pain was the foot in the door that started it. We have to take the concerns borne of history into account in this. Brushing them off by claiming that they are hypothetical or fantasy or paranoia or propaganda or whatever have you is at best ignorant. At worst, it’s reckless. Especially since we live in a world where disabled lives are valued less.

    Consider the media narratives of people who kill their kids. Parent kills a normal kid, they’re an evil child killer. Parent kills disabled kid, and the narrative shifts to “But they were such a loving and patient parent who didn’t have services and imagine what they were going through!”

    Never mind that they still murdered their damn kid. But the murderer is turned into the victim. By our culture and our media. Because disabled people aren’t seen as people, they’re seen as burdens and tragedies who have suffering as an inevitable constant of their existence. Even if they report they’re not suffering.

    And if you don’t see how stuff like that applies to the euthanasia debate, that’s your ignorance talking, not Flewellyn being irrational, unsympathetic, or unduly self-centered.

    Hence why I call myself “pro-assisted-suicide” and not pro-euthanasia or pro-voluntary-euthanasia. In assisted suicide, the person choosing to die has control at every step. In euthanasia, they lose control because they’re not the one pulling the final trigger, and that is not good enough, IMO. Furthermore, I believe in ensuring adequate palliative care (to prevent people from coercing others to die through making their lives physically miserable) and involving mandatory investigations to prevent coercive situations.

    This is high-stakes stuff. Lives are at risk. Literally. I cannot condone anyone treating this issue cavalierly or implying that there’s a simple, easy, or morally absolute answer. These regulations should be approached carefully, include disabled people in every step of the drafts, and must leave control of every step of the process in the hands of the disabled person. Because if regulations in such situations get screwed up, if we accept anything less than perfect the first time, people will be murdered. And I’m not willing to have that blood on my hands.

    Personally, I’d love to have a conversation on how a functional system would work, and how to take Flewellyn’s concerns into account in the design of it. Unfortunately, there are those here who are so determined to see Flewellyn as evil and tell him he doesn’t care about the suffering of others (nice ableist dogwhistles there, by the way) that I don’t think a constructive dialog is possible at this point.

  87. says

    The whole argument against assisted suicide that brings up involuntary euthanasia is evil, dishonest nonsense. It is about the same as saying that allowing for more widespread abortions would lead to legalizing teachers stabbing their kindergarden students. It isn’t even apples and oranges, it is apples and bulldozers.

  88. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    No. Some of Flewellyn’s statements are into paranoid territory. Not all of them. I’ve been at great pains to make this distinction. I wasn’t sufficiently clear. I am now. This is not being acknowledged or reciprocated.

    We do not live in Weimar Germany. I do not need to be reminded of things you know I knew about eugenics in the past.

    Amazing. Still nary a peep about the interests of the subject of this story. . a woman begging for release.

    Tell me why Flewellyn does not have to hold to the same standards of good faith and honest examination that the rest of us do? If you mean to say that any instance of calling something paranoid or a wild exaggeration is ipso facto abusive and out of bounds, then we can’t talk to each other because I don’t recognize that as valid.

  89. protoplasmoid says

    I’ll say what I damned well please. You are out of line for acting as if you speak For The Disabled. You’re not the fucking Lorax. And you ARE exercising considerable privilege. I’d love to see what you’d say to Fleming to her face.

    This alone should be disqualifying for the merit of “good faith”.

    Which should be a prompter to actually understand what others are saying. No need to be all Testerical now is there?

    I also agree with all the things that
    ischemgeek said above.

  90. ischemgeek says

    How ’bout you folks stop using ableist dogwhistles against him, first of all?

    Stop implying he lacks empathy, stop implying he’s broken or deficient. If you want to address his arguments, by all means, do so, but do so without causing fucking splash damage (“paranoid territory” – my partner, who is mentally ill, would appreciate that language ever so much */sarcasm*) or attacking him for being disabled (all the “you just don’t care about other people’s suffering!” talk, even after it was explained that autistics lack empathy is an ableist dogwhistle).

    As I’ve said, I have zero problem with assisted suicide in principle. I have no problem with her choosing to end her life. I fully support her in her wish to do so and I do wish that the appropriate accomodations are put in place so that she is able to end her own life at a time, place, and manner of her own choosing by her own action. Nobody should be ending anyone else’s life. Full stop. By all means, set it up so the person who wants out can end things. But don’t end it for them, because that’s where you cross into euthanasia, and that’s why euthanasia is being brought up in this debate. I’m not bringing it up to muddy the waters, I’m bringing it up because it is necessary to discuss it to adequately lay out my position on the issue and my reasoning behind said position.

    But I have no problem with her wanting to end her own life. I have not discussed it at this point because it did not seem necessary – I thought me pointing out that I’m pro-assisted suicide would be enough to make my position on her situation clear. Evidently, it wasn’t.

    What I do have a major problem with in this thread is people attacking someone in a bigoted way in a space that claims to be progressive. And, yes, calling something “paranoid” when it’s already been explained repeatedly why it’s not is bigoted. As is using the word paranoid as a derogatory adjective in the first place. Stigmatization of mental illness much? And as is using bigoted dogwhistles against a marginalized person. Walk that back because you’re saying you want dialog and then making it impossible to have one by attacking a marginalized person along their axis of marginalization. That’s like the people who say they want to have a dialog with Ophelia about sexism while using infantilizing nicknames. Do you not see how you’re sending self-contradictory messages here?

  91. Ulysses says

    Flewellyn does have a good point about how disabled people are often badly treated by society in general and the medical profession in particular. He even has a half-assed point about the possibility that disabled people could be “encouraged” to undergo assisted suicide. However because of his fears the latter will happen he refuses to accept that Fleming has any right to request the right to die. He’s gone so far as to claim that assisted suicide is murder. That tells me Flewellyn has no concern for Fleming or people like her. He’s just afraid about a possible outcome and, because of this fear, wants Fleming to live in pain and die an agonizing death.

    My wife has multiple sclerosis. She’s still at the “walk with a cane and leg brace” stage (does parasthesias mean anything to you?) but the likelihood of my wife ending up like Fleming is probably greater than Flewellyn being taken to the death camps. So Fleming’s situation is something I may have to deal with. I hope I don’t have to deal with assholes like Flewellyn who want my wife to live in pain because of their fears.

  92. Esteleth, the most colossal nerd on Pharyngula says

    Is there risk to disabled people? Are they abused ever day? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

    But.

    A well-constructed assisted-suicide law can if implemented properly avoid veering into “kill the undesirables” territory.

    What does this require? Well, put simply, all of the following must be demonstrated:
    (1) The person wants to die. They must say so, repeatedly.
    (2) The person must not be coerced.
    (3) The person must pass a psychological assessment to verify that they are not having suicidal ideation due to depression or other mental illness.
    (4) There must be a standard for the suffering with regards to pain, degree of limitation, etc. For example, is the pain such that it cannot be alleviated? Is there no hope of meaningful recovery?

    With those met – and it being firmly established – then there’s no reason to deny such a person the means to end their life painlessly. If they cannot self-administer, then a similar rubric would allow them to designate another person (loved one, etc) to administer the toxin.

    The fears that people have over disabled “unwanted” people being killed via the use of an assisted-suicide law would be substantially alleviated by such a system – such a system, properly implemented, would not expand the risk that disabled people face from abusers.

    As for Fleming:
    Based on what is presented here, she meets all the standards I outlined above. Denying her the right to die seems needlessly cruel. And no, I do not consider “just let her starve to death/die of thirst” to be a merciful alternative – that is not a quick or painless way to go. Also, what is important to remember is that what of the people seeking death with dignity is control. The control over their own body that they’ve been denied due to their illness. A death from thirst or starvation is not controlled.

  93. ischemgeek says

    Flewellyn being taken to the death camp is far-fetched in our current political climate*, but him being pressured into non-consensually signing a DNR? Not so far-fetched. Something that actually happens. In the US. Probably has happened many times this year. Him being pressured into denying life-saving medical treatment against his will? Not so far-fetched. Re-read the Amanda Baggs case linked higher. Him being forced into unneccesary and dehumanizing medical procedures non-consensually? Not so far-fetched. Google “Pillow Angel”.

    Horrible, dehumanizing, life-damaging and sometimes life-ending stuff is happening to disabled people in this continent now. The fears Flewellyn expresses are not invalid, considering the horrible human rights abuses people like him endure every day on this continent.

    I empathize with the possibility of your wife reaching a point where she wants to die, but I cannot countenance drawing a false dichotomy of either we deal with the fears of the disabled people in this continent on this issue or we allow those who want or even demand death to have assistance in doing so. This is not a zero sum game. Flewellyn’s concerns being addressed don’t mean that your wife and people like Flemming or three of my grandparents (who died of cancer) necessarily have to die lingering, painful and miserable deaths. Stop pretending it is one.

    *I’ll revise my estimation of that if the NRA’s proposed “mentally ill registry” gets political momentum behind it.

  94. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    It would be so nice if anyone took a second to look at how carefully laws such as Oregon’s are crafted and note how much care goes into ensuring the best (imperfect, of course) safeguards are there. Why, it’s almost like these concerns were actually addressed with great attention.

    Why are y’all talking about this like that’s not the case? As if no one has addressed them? As if all of us involved with right to die legislation somehow missed all that?

    My god this is stupid and frustrating. You don’t want to sound like Catholics? Then don’t act like them. Read. Have you read any of these statutes, ischemgeek?

  95. says

    AS I have said previously, in post 43, there is a framework I would support in which physicians could provide the means for a person to end their own life if they decide, and can demonstrate that it was decided without coercion.

    In a case like Ms Fleming’s, where she can communicate but can’t move her arms and legs, she could still direct someone to place the drugs in a device which she could then manipulate with, say, her nose. Or tongue. That’s an engineering problem. Surely something could be worked out.

    If she was no longer able to communicate, well, I don’t know that we would then have any grounds for being certain that death was still her wish. Because if you can’t communicate with someone, then you can’t get consent.

    Meanwhile, I’m going to address this:

    No. Some of Flewellyn’s statements are into paranoid territory. Not all of them. I’ve been at great pains to make this distinction. I wasn’t sufficiently clear. I am now. This is not being acknowledged or reciprocated.

    We do not live in Weimar Germany. I do not need to be reminded of things you know I knew about eugenics in the past.

    Once again, I would remind you that we are not talking about Weimar Germany. The cases I’ve mentioned, mostly happened within the United States. SOme within this century. Amanda Baggs’ ordeal happened last month, and is ongoing.

    So we are not talking about hypotheticals.

  96. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    I’m not interested in talking to you Flewellyn until you address reasonable questions:

    1. Are you aware that the some of your sources are actively misleading and full of elisions?

    2. Why do you continue to use examples of real abuse that I acknowledge are true as somehow opening the door to systemic, condoned eugenics-style abuses?

    You know why people think you don’t care about the suffering of people like Fleming? Because you don’t appear to. You say horrible glib things like “I’d feel awful for her,” and suggest morphine, starvation, and keeping her mouth wet. Your peace of mind (which we all need) is of paramount importance, but you won’t even acknowledge that hers is. She’s going through real agony, not just the anticipation of it. But you don’t acknowledge it except to say “I acknowledge it BUT. . ”

    No, you don’t. You don’t care enough. This is on you. It’s not a misreading.

  97. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Or, more charitably, which is probably more fair, your fears are grave enough that you can’t see the full implications of what you’re saying. That’s awful, and I can’t gainsay it or tell you you shouldn’t be fearful. But that does not absolve you of the responsibility to face up to things and take other people’s legitimate fears and needs into account. You’re not doing that. You need to.

  98. says

    Josh, you of all people should know that what law is on the books, and what actually gets enforced, can be two different things.

    It is currently illegal, now, for people to commit murder. But the autistic children and adults who have been murdered, by parents, grandparents, siblings? Got no justice. In most cases, there weren’t even charges. In the cases where there were, the parent in question got a slap on the wrist.

    I can provide cites and examples, if you give me time to track down the sources.

  99. Siobhan says

    Phew, having to wait for moderation blew all my comments away. Swear, they were pertinent when I posted them. ;)

    This is an interesting discussion, but as a (mostly) able person, I am cringing left and right at all the dog whistling I’m seeing going on. Just because you think someone has overstated something, or has taken an extreme stance you don’t agree with is no reason to blow dog whistles at them.

    Autistic folks get painted as lacking empathy all the time. Flewellyn specifically indicated empathy for Fleming’s situation, and even indicated xir criteria for ensuring Fleming had the opportunity to end things herself if she so desired. Continuing to hammer at Flewellyn for not giving consideration to Fleming is… beneath all of you.

    Wait, you’re never wrong are you? Any of you? You could never be wrong at this moment. You couldn’t possibly be making a mistake. Right now. Folks are only ever wrong in the past. Sure, you’ve made mistakes in the past, but you’re not wrong at this moment. Today you’re 100% totes in the right and the fact that several autistic or otherwise disabled people (just a note, I’m not one of them) are sitting here trying over and over to get you to see how ableist you’re being towards them… that just doesn’t matter.

    Just observing here: Being caring and empathetic towards Fleming doesn’t give you a free pass to ignore the situations that autistic folks are facing all over the rest of the country/world/whatever.

    When someone tells you that you’re not just stepping on their toes but are jumping up and down on them, maybe you could consider pausing and looking where your feet are?

  100. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    The needs of disabled people to be protected from exploitation, abuse, and murder are not in a zero sum game relationship with the needs of desperate people to die on their own terms. It’s that simple. And when folks can’t seem to progress to even that level of understanding it tells me they don’t actually know what these laws say, they have no idea how excruciatingly these issues are examined, and that they’re not inclined to do so.

    Honestly—some of you are saying things as if no one had addressed them. In fact, they have. This is IMPORTANT. There’s a reason I’m mistrustful. This is basic stuff. It kinda scares me that you don’t know it and, apparently, don’t believe it’s real.

  101. says

    I’m not interested in talking to you Flewellyn until you address reasonable questions:

    1. Are you aware that the some of your sources are actively misleading and full of elisions?

    That’s a matter of interpretation. The one link I gave had a few issues, but was not entirely flawed.

    2. Why do you continue to use examples of real abuse that I acknowledge are true as somehow opening the door to systemic, condoned eugenics-style abuses?

    It comes down to the issue of consent. As we live in a culture that does not properly understand consent, and reads it in to places where it really isn’t (see: rape culture), we cannot trust that people will necessarily care about the consent of the marginalized, when they have already shown that they don’t under the current regime.

    That said, if a death with dignity law could not only be written, but carefully and strictly enforced, such that these issues were dealt with properly…I would not consider that unethical. A risky area, but not unethical.

    But I’ve already said this above. In several places. Either you didn’t read it, or you have decided that it didn’t count, for some reason.

    You know why people think you don’t care about the suffering of people like Fleming? Because you don’t appear to. You say horrible glib things like “I’d feel awful for her,” and suggest morphine, starvation, and keeping her mouth wet. Your peace of mind (which we all need) is of paramount importance, but you won’t even acknowledge that hers is. She’s going through real agony, not just the anticipation of it. But you don’t acknowledge it except to say “I acknowledge it BUT. . ”

    No, you don’t. You don’t care enough. This is on you. It’s not a misreading.

    You don’t get to say that I don’t care enough. Enough for what? For YOUR standards? If I really cared enough, I would of course agree with you? My being concerned about precedent, and people using her case to accelerate the devaluation of marginalized people, means I don’t care enough?

    Where do you get off?

  102. ischemgeek says

    Yes. But, that it’s been done right in one area does not automagically mean it’ll be done right elsewhere.That gay marriage was legalized in Canada didn’t mean that proposition 8 failed. These battles will have to be re-fought, and these discussions will have to be re-hashed in each new jurisdiction.

    Furthermore, that it’s been done right in one case does not mean that public opinion everywhere is in the right. Part of my wariness is likely the area I’m in: I live in an area where a significant portion of the population advocates “mercy killing” and eugenics. People here are largely divided into the all-assisted-suicide-is-wrong-and-to-heck-with-personal-autonomy camp and the kill-all-people-who-I-think-don’t-have-lives-worth-living-or-I-think-are-burdens-to-society-and-to-heck-with-personal-autonomy-or-right-to-life camp. Thus, when I hear people advocate “assisted suicide” I’m really wary that they actually know what they’re talking about and aren’t trying to end-run stuff like the human rights charter. And even if one person I’m talking to knows their shit, that doesn’t mean everyone does. I have very little doubt that if assisted suicide were proposed here, it would be a disaster no matter which side won.

    Absolutist language, and ableist language and insisting that anyone who expresses concerns or reservations about it being proposed in their area is either irrational or malicious? Makes me even more wary of you. Because that’s how the second camp here talk. I don’t think you’re one of that camp, but you and others here? Are pushing all my red flag buttons on this issue, so I’m going to actually go get some sleep for now and take a break here.

  103. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    I can provide cites and examples, if you give me time to track down the sources.

    You’re not reading me, or you’re not understanding. You don’t need to track them down.

    I believe you.

    I believe you.
    I believe you.

    Really and honestly. I believe you.

    That is orthogonal. The fact that these things happen does not mean DwD laws will make it worse, or justify them, or that we can’t build in safeguards.

    Again: I believe you.

    Do you understand me yet?

  104. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Where do you get off?

    I get off at the bus stop labeled, “I don’t give a shit what you feel in your heart of hearts, I care about what your actions do. You apply this same standard to me. Your actions show you don’t care enough.”

    I don’t care what you feel or believe you feel except to the extent that I do believe you’re in good faith. I think you’re still wrong and your actions have serious harms.

    It’s easier to think this is abstract for me, and that as an able person I just don’t care. I’ve seen this suffering up close and I’m very angry at you for throwing up unnecessary barriers to end the suffering of very real people in my life. But I don’t discount your very legitimate concerns because of that.

    You, however, do so discount by your inaccurate, sloppy exaggerations. You’re not a fair player on this question.

  105. says

    ALright, JOsh, I get it. You believe me.

    Now believe me when I say that the reason DWD laws concern me (though I am not entirely opposed, see my comment at 43), is because of the consent issues that I outlined in 56, and again in 106 because apparently you didn’t read it the first time.

    If we can’t trust that a jury will understand that an unconscious, drugged woman can’t consent to sex, why would we be able to trust that a doctor will understand that a nonverbal autistic person can’t consent to assisted suicide?

  106. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    If you mean to talk to me directly use my fucking name ischemgeek. I need to know if “you” means “Josh” or “someone else.” Don’t be sloppy. I won’t be sloppy with you.

  107. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    OK Flewellyn. Yes, I understand your concerns. You may (or may not) remember how I howled with outrage over that rape case you just cited. It’s . .indescribable.

    But again, your prescription is too dire. Too many people have to suffer because of your fears, your demands. Take the Oregon law, for example. It’s not perfect, but it’s got a fuckload of safeties built into it. It’s pretty good. We can do better, but it’s pretty good.

    Do you get that? Honest question—do you get that?

    I will not tolerate people trying to shut down the ability of competent people to decide their own end because the quest for perfect hasn’t been reached yet.

    And frankly, I’m wary of you because your initial post in this thread was so unequivocal and so . .wild. . .I question your grasp of the actual facts of these laws. You only “backed down” after you felt compelled to, and you still don’t seem to actually know that a lot of safeguards are already built into these laws.

    Hell, you were fucking pleased with a court decision denying Fleming her rights even when she was the quintessential example of the most consenting, informed patient you could ask for . That’s you. You really said that. Why are you boggled at my reaction?

  108. says

    Josh, did you miss the part where I told you that I have also had people close to me, including my own mother, die slowly of painful diseases? I’ve seen it up close and personal, too. I was in the damn room when she breathed her last breath and let out a horrible, agonized moan.

    So fuck you very much for implying that I don’t care, or that I’m engaging in inaccurate, sloppy exaggerations when I say that this is still a dangerous area for disabled people. I’ve laid out the reasoning and you have said you agree with my evidence, so stop bellyaching. I even said that there’s a good framework under which I’d condone assisted suicide, provided it was strictly enforced, and you somehow have decided that’s still not enough.

    If you’re going to say that I’m being irrational when I say that I don’t necessarily trust what’s written on the paper unless it’s regularly enforced, then you lose all right to claim rationality. What you’re engaging in here is abusive sniping, and it stops now.

  109. says

    If you mean to talk to me directly use my fucking name ischemgeek. I need to know if “you” means “Josh” or “someone else.” Don’t be sloppy. I won’t be sloppy with you.

    Because tu quoque is totally fine when you declare that your opponent is in “paranoia land” or otherwise being hysterical*. You’re under no obligation to actually respond to your opponent’s arguments now, because you’ve deemed them too far to the left for your own taste. Such is, after all, the respectable and rational way to go about being an Amazing Social Justice Warrior.

    * – Oh dear, I appear to have pointed out what you’re implying by using words that aren’t the exact words you used. How unfair of me. I await my one thousand lashes of flowery rhetoric for my audacious calling out of your acting as though addressing the arguments you’re supposedly responding to is totally unnecessary.

  110. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    “Dangerous idea for disabled people” is not the same as “we know it won’t end there.” It just isn’t. Your inconsistencies are your responsibility, not mine. Your reliance on actively misleading sources is not my fault. Your refusals to acknowledge the safeguards built in to the existing laws is your responsibility, not mine. Your unwillingness to weigh risks against the benefits for a woman who is the most clearly consenting plaintiff you could ask for is your responsibility, not my fault.

    These are hard issues. They suck. But we all have to get our shit in order. Your ethical reasoning is muddled, badly. Get your house sorted.

  111. says

    And frankly, I’m wary of you because your initial post in this thread was so unequivocal and so . .wild. . .I question your grasp of the actual facts of these laws. You only “backed down” after you felt compelled to, and you still don’t seem to actually know that a lot of safeguards are already built into these laws.

    Hell, you were fucking pleased with a court decision denying Fleming her rights even when she was the quintessential example of the most consenting, informed patient you could ask for . That’s you. You really said that. Why are you boggled at my reaction?

    Unequivocal and wild? I was being moderate, and quite gentle, I thought. And you know, as I have repeatedly stated in this thread, it’s not the contents of the laws that concern me…it’s the practice. Because you and I both know the difference between theory and practice, between law on the books and law enforced. Or, I hope you do.

    I was not “pleased” with the court decision, though I agreed with it in its judgement, though not the reasoning. Ireland does not have good safeguards against the kind of abuses I am concerned about, and given its history with the state-sanctioned Catholic Church abuses of marginalized people, I think they have a lot of house cleaning to do before they can build such a framework. If they passed a DWD law akin to Oregon’s, and enforced it rigorously, I could see that working. But absent such a framework, I don’t see how the court could have ruled otherwise.

    But regardless, I think your vitriolic reaction is far over the top.

  112. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Oh, now you’re rules-lawyering with me. You actually expect me to believe you think the court’s ruling was reasonable because they had no choice? You outright said you supported it and followed it up with because it’s never OK.

    You’re fibbing to yourself.

  113. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Yeah, “because it would be murder” is “gentle and moderate,” and oh so ethically nuanced. Good Christ.

  114. says

    Dude, you’ve been playing rhetorical gotcha games with me this whole damn thread, acting as though minor differences in wording made for entirely different, contradictory statements, and implying I was being irrational and hysterical when I was explaining myself.

    You know what? You’ve lost the right to talk to me.

  115. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Let me be clear, Setar: Fuck off. I’ve had it with your policing and your badge-burnishing. You’re not the be all and end all to oppression discussions. I think you’re a good person who fights the good fight, but I also think you’re erratic and off-base a lot of the time. And I find you tiresome. So please stop talking at me.

  116. says

    I love how it suddenly becomes okay to derail to personal crap, personal qualities and alleged personal conduct in these discussions.

    I think you’re a good person who fights the good fight, but I also think you’re erratic and off-base a lot of the time. And I find you tiresome.

    Just as long as you only imply that they’re wrong sometimes, and that maybe this is one of those times, it’s okay. It’s totally not ad hominem, because you’re not saying it outright. You’re just going close, ever so close, inches away, like a child holding their finger just above something they’ve been ordered not to touch. Because you’re not touching it, after all.

  117. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    I’m not implying anything. I’m stating what I think directly. And what I think is that you’re annoying to me, you have an outsized sense of your own ethical reasoning, and that you’re too self-righteous and way too goddamned confident of your limited experience and resulting judgment. Yeah. Nothing implied or coy about it.

    And I’m also done. This is a shit show. Have at it friends.

  118. says

    I’m not implying anything.

    Yes you are: that what you’re saying there, means I’m wrong here. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be saying it, you’d be saying something else. Like the actual responses to arguments presented that I was looking for, which you apparently have none of.

    And what I think is that you’re annoying to me, you have an outsized sense of your own ethical reasoning, and that you’re too self-righteous and way too goddamned confident of your limited experience and resulting judgment.

    In other words, I’m too young, too radical, and need time to mature and become more respectable? ‘Cause, see, I kinda tried that and only ended up being a shittier person for it.

    And I’m also done. This is a shit show. Have at it friends.

    Good riddance, because I’ve had fucking enough of you awful “respectable” people screaming at me for not jumping under the bus when I’m told like a good little far-leftie.

  119. kellyw. says

    I don’t do HTML, so this is going to be a headache and a half to read.

    “Wait a minute; what what what? How does this directly affect Flew any more than it does anyone else? We all have the potential to be in Marie Fleming’s situation. This directly affects all of us. No, Flew’s fear of the hypothetical of being killed for being autistic does not trump other people’s fear of the non-hypothetical situation of Marie Fleming.” -Ophelia

    What you and several others seem to be missing is that any one of us can become disabled and other people want us to die, yet we don’t want to die. Disabled people being abused and encouraged to die isn’t hypothetical, ffs. Flew already listed an example.

    Here’s an article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9940870/Doctors-put-lower-value-on-lives-of-the-disabled-study-finds.html

    Someone who was encouraged to die: http://www.notdeadyet.org/2012/05/bills_story.html

    Kevorkian and his crappy methodology: http://www.freep.com/article/20070527/NEWS05/70525061/SUICIDE-MACHINE-PART-1-Kevorkian-rushes-fulfill-his-clients-desire-die

    And I’m not sure why some people are assuming I think that Fleming shouldn’t decide whether or not she dies. Any person who is able to 100% consent without any coercion whatsoever absolutely can make the decision whether or not to die. What I find disturbing is the lack of people here who understand that disabled people have a very real concern that legal physician assisted suicide will be used as justification to murder them.

  120. theetar says

    Setar, yes keep fighting against libertarian rightwingers like Josh. I mean, that’s how you label anyone who disagrees with you, don’t you?

  121. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    THIS is why we can’t have nice things.

    Yep, because of people like you who make such bizarre demands that a terminally-ill woman who cannot swallow, who wishes to die and needs assistance to die, is forbidden from being assisted in any way because of your over-active fears that the doctors will come for you next.

    Yep, that’s why we can’t have Death With Dignity, which should be acknowledged everywhere as a fundamental human right and which would apply to every human being, those currently abled and those currently disabled, both.

    You should be ashamed of yourself. You should go away and think seriously about the damage your expressed words and actions are causing to people who need assistance to die when there are no other humane alternatives.

    Your legitimate fears about mistreatment of existing disabled people are not a moral excuse for you acting in illegitimate ways, which is what you’re doing with your ridiculous list of strictures which you insist must be in place for DwD. You’ve fucked up morally. You have reasons, but you’ve failed to draw a reasonable line between abusive treatment/coerced deaths and necessary, requested assistance for dignity. Maybe you don’t know any better, but you should know better, and ignorance is no excuse for you moral failure.

  122. rowanvt says

    I was being moderate, and quite gentle, I thought

    Except you weren’t. All emphasis added is mine, to show where the problems lie.

    but…the problem is, it won’t end there.

    We KNOW it won’t, because we’ve seen that road before.

    We know that the standards of what conditions are considered “death-worthy”… would expand.

    The rules about requiring explicit consent of the patient would be relaxed, slowly but surely, so that noncommunicative people would be “euthanized” for the “greater good”

    Her condition is painful and debilitating. But the answer to that is better palliative care, not killing her.

    The risks to everyone who doesn’t fit society’s model of “abled” are too great if we allow for a “right to die”, because that would inevitably become a “right to be killed”.

    Moderate? Gentle? There are a lot of absolutes in there. A lot of “woulds” and “we knows”. And the second to last quote is explicitly you wanting her to die in agony, because of your fear. It’s not about killing her. It’s about allowing her to die on HER OWN terms.

  123. rowanvt says

    Doh. Blockquote borked on the very last one. Meant to hit preview and got submit instead. :/

  124. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    I get the fear of the system being abused, if proper safeguards aren’t installed.

    What I would like to know, concerning a situation existing right now is, how to avoid sacrificing Marie Fleming? Is it possible? Because in your fear of a dangerous precedent, Marie Fleming or other people like her, end up as sacrifices for the greater good. And I’m not even sure this would make a dangerous precedent, since she clearly states that she wishes to die. So what’s the point of denying her?

  125. says

    And the second to last quote is explicitly you wanting her to die in agony, because of your fear.

    No, rowanvt. “Better palliative care” does not mean she dies in agony, it means we alleviate her suffering. For fuck’s sake, read what words mean, not what you want them to mean.

    Y’know, this is why I generally don’t discuss this subject with right-to-die advocates. They have this tendency to not respond to what I, or other disabled people, actually say, but what they want us to have said, so that they can courageously knock down the immoral straw effigies of our arguments in their heads.

    Congratulations, everyone (except Beatrice), you’ve used up the last of my good faith. I’m out.

  126. rowanvt says

    Flew. Palliative care does not always work. Often the end result is a person drugged completely insensate. So her options are: still be in horrible pain, or be a couple steps away from dead anyway. Should we be investing more money into better pain meds that don’t also severely affect the mental state or have horrible side effects? Absolutely. Is there any real hope of such medications in the reasonable future? Not really.

    But I do appreciate that you seem to be recognising (in that, you have not challenged it) that your initial post in this thread was not moderate or gentle.

  127. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    I’m all for giving people the best palliative care possible. In Marie Fleming’s case, as per her wishes, the way she wants her suffering to be alleviated is by helping her die.

    Maybe it’s because I’m coming to this from a third perspective -not a disabled person afraid of the right to die being used against her (a concern not without fundament), or able person arguing about principles, but an able person talking about something I consider a serious option for myself. I realize this is not a healthy view of life and that I could probably find help if I were ready to look for it, since it’s depression talking and making me feel like shit and suicidal. But I can understand the desire to finish the fucking useless life one is leading. The difference between Marie and me is that I could get help that would make me less or not suicidal. Marie can maybe be made to suffer a little bit less. Enough that it makes her change her mind about suicide? From what I’ve gathered, she is already receiving good care, so this is probably as good as it gets. As good as it gets.
    When I think about suicide, what gets me by is hope that maybe things will get better. I realize that it’s depression talking when I think what a piece of shit I am, and what a waste of space and air my life is, but maybe that will change… I could just die tomorrow, but what if something would have changed on Friday, but I mess everything up right before? Marie Fleming doesn’t have this. She doesn’t have that hope. She can’t hope she will find courage some day to seek a professional who will help her deal with her wish to die, like I can, like I can hope to makes things better for myself if only I manage to get myself to that point.

    She doesn’t have any hope, her situation can’t get better, and I’m afraid she is being denying death because of principles more than anything else.

  128. ischemgeek says

    I will make one more attempt at good-faith discussion in this: If the court had the power to lay out such safeguards in its ruling, I would have had no problem in the judge granting her case.

    I don’t know if Ireland’s courts have that power.

  129. ischemgeek says

    And the “you” was a general “you” in that prior post, Josh. You, too, but also the other people who have been dismissing an oppressed person’s concerns about how something might oppress him along his axis of oppression out of hand using bigoted attacks.

    And, no, I’m not going to let that go because I haven’t seen anyone so much as acknowledge that you’ve been using bigoted attacks here. If you’re not insupport of that, Josh, collect your people and tell them to walk it the heck back.

    As for you, personally, Josh: I remind you that I’m with you on this issue. But it’s not as cut and dry as you think. Statutory rape laws didn’t prevent the Catholic sex abuse scandal. Nor did mandatory reporting laws make the teachers in Catholic schools report it. That’s because of cultural ageism, religious privilege, sexism, racism, and/or victim-blaming.

    Our society has a culture of ableism up to and including excusing the murders of disabled people, and a disabled person is asking for assurances that the law would be written and applied in a way that prevents its abuse. You, personally, Josh, are responding by either painting him as an extremist (even though by and large, he’s with you on this, too), accusing him of not caring about other people (still even though there’s no way you don’t know that talk is bigoted against autistic people), and generally ignoring his points in favor of ad hominem attacks.

    I have a major freaking problem with how you’ve responded to Flewellyn in this thread, Josh. You have been so up on your high horse that you’re blind to the fact that you’re acting like an ableist bigot. Walk back your ableist attacks on Flewellyn and read what he’s been saying for comprehension, rather than attacking what you want him to have said because it’s an easier target.

  130. Usernamehere says

    Flewellyn:

    Euthanasia has been practiced in the Netherlands for some time now. The criteria are very strict and monitored tightly. Nowhere does it allow for anyone to just kill someone because they’re so bothersome.

    Try looking at the wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia_in_the_Netherlands

    It’s not very extensive, but it paints a half-decent pictures of the regulations surrounding a patients decision to end their lives. Emphasis on -the patient’s decision-.

    It may come as a surprise to you, but people don’t really have to worry about being rounded up and killed by the state over here, even though Fox News would like everyone to think so.

  131. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    Would it really to be so difficult to let this woman die in peace, without creating a dangerous precedent? I believe those of you here are arguing with good intentions, but I’m not sure the courts are really the same. They are full of compassion, but afraid of a slippery slope… except that it doesn’t look like they are trying all that hard to help Marie.
    Call psychologists, acccept their testimonies as evidence that she is expressing her wishes without coercion. Question her husband too, if you’re afraid he has bad intentions.

  132. The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says

    I have another difficult question, just occured to me, and it’s somewhat unrelated to Flew’s:

    an able person talking about something I consider a serious option for myself. I realize this is not a healthy view of life and that I could probably find help if I were ready to look for it, since it’s depression talking and making me feel like shit and suicidal.

    First off, I don’t disagree with anyone that Fleming should get what she wants here. It’s a pretty unambiguous case.

    But OTOH, and I know I haven’t really been around FtB the last few months, but last I checked, when a horde member talks about suicide, we usually do our best to, you know, give them someone to talk to and hook them up with counselling options if they want it.

    I guess what I’m wondering is, where exactly do we draw the line between “Wants to die and should be allowed to do so” and “Wants to die, needs help and counselling”?

    (not that I don’t think there are perfectly logical and consistent places to draw that line. In Fleming’s case it’s pretty obvious, IMO)

  133. says

    Well one place the line is drawn is between, say, depression on the one hand and total paralysis & pain & inevitable worsening condition leading to death on the other.

    And then, help and counselling may be offered/seen as desirable for people who want to die because of illness too.

    And then, trying to help is not the same as not permitting.

  134. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    TLC,

    I guess it wasn’t clear from my comment, but that was exactly the difference I was trying to point out.
    Depression can be helped, Marie Fleming’s suffering can’t.

  135. The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says

    Ophelia: Thanks, that’s close to what I was driving at.

    Beatrice: Well, it is early in the morning for me and I’m still working on my coffee. Guess I shoulda grasped that quicker :p

    And yeah, it’s a sensible place to draw the line.

  136. Ulysses says

    You, too, but also the other people who have been dismissing an oppressed person’s concerns about how something might oppress him along his axis of oppression out of hand using bigoted attacks.

    Yes, it’s so bigoted of us to think that because of Flewellyn’s fears a woman living in agony should continue to live in agony. I think that’s what the military calls “collateral damage.” Flew is afraid and so Fleming must not be allowed to die as she wants. Flewellyn’s concerns are much more important than Fleming’s desires. So it’s just tough luck for Fleming. Maybe she’ll die of thirst or starvation soon so she won’t bother Flewellyn’s sense of superiority any more.

  137. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    Hotshoe @ 129, I have only one question:

    What makes you so damn sure that your position is the moral one?

    Sorry, baby, it’s obvious. The fact that you even have to ask is a sign of the moral failure you’ve fallen into..

    You think it’s not obvious that continuing the torture of an innocent woman is worse than ceasing her torture? Really? That’s not something we all can be damn sure of? Really, that’s your only question?

    Yeah, I’ll go with “I’m damn sure my position is the moral one”. Cessation of torture is morally better than continuation of torture. Yeah, I’m damn sure about that.

    Too bad you aren’t.

  138. Skeptical Atheist says

    “I guess what I’m wondering is, where exactly do we draw the line between “Wants to die and should be allowed to do so” and “Wants to die, needs help and counselling”?”

    “WE”?

    I don’t know about any one else, but I’m not comfortable telling somebody else whether they should live or die!

  139. Erik says

    Most people, no matter how suicidally depressed, really can find *something* to live for if they’re given the necessary opportunities. People with painful terminal illnesses with no hope of recovery who have made their peace have more to die for than to live for. Neither side of this debate has unreasonable concerns–none of it is purely “hypothetical”. But I think that rational adults are capable of disambiguating cases like this and if not that says something pretty horrid about humanity. I mean far be it from me to have faith in humanity, but I really can tell the difference between this and eugenics and so, I think, can the rest of you >_>

  140. The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says

    I don’t know about any one else, but I’m not comfortable telling somebody else whether they should live or die!

    So you’re telling me if a close friend of yours told you that they were feeling suicidal, you would just ‘respect their choice’? You wouldn’t encourage them to seek counselling or at least ‘talk them down’ from it?

  141. Skeptical Atheist says

    “So you’re telling me if a close friend of yours told you that they were feeling suicidal, you would just ‘respect their choice’? You wouldn’t encourage them to seek counselling or at least ‘talk them down’ from it?”

    I didn’t say that, I said I’m not comfortable TELLING somebody what they should do.

    I worked with the Samaritans for close to 10 yrs and talked to dozens of suicidal people, some just contemplating killing themselves(low risk) and with others that were in progress(high risk) I always tried to get the person to seek professional help, but ultimately the decision is there’s to make.

  142. rowanvt says

    There’s a difference between encouraging and TELLING. I’m not going to walk up to a suicidal person and TELL them “No. You are not allowed to die. You have to live, because I said so.”

    I’ve ‘talked down’ suicidal folks before, by reminding them that I love them and that there are other people who love them who would equally love to help, and would miss them. But you know what? I’ve also told them “However, if this is what you really need to do because none of it is worth it… well, just do remember that I will always love you. No matter what you choose, I hope you find peace.”

  143. wondering says

    I’ve worked with seniors and people with disabilities, including people in palliative care.

    It’s heartbreaking how often people have begged me to kill them. I know I certainly want the choice to die with dignity and to be able to choose when I want to die and to have a physician assist me if I ask for it. (I’d certainly prefer a morphine overdose over jumping in front of a bus!)

    These conversations remind me of one particular old man who both begged me to kill him and asked me to bring him a gun so that he could kill himself. I did no such thing, of course, and ensured that he got access to suicide hotlines, but that didn’t stop him from attempting suicide on multiple occasions. Each time, a family member or a care worker discovered him and had him rushed to the hospital. Never me, and for that I’m grateful. Knowing that he was in constant pain and wanted to die means I don’t know what I would have done if I’d been the one to find him.

  144. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    wondering – I’m sorry. You’ve been in a hard place, I think, and it sounds like you’ve done the best you can to help folks live while respecting their autonomy. Thanks for trying so hard to do right!

  145. kellyw. says

    “But you know what? I’ve also told them “However, if this is what you really need to do because none of it is worth it… well, just do remember that I will always love you. No matter what you choose, I hope you find peace.”

    I hope those weren’t people suffering from depression. I have major depression, and the last thing I’d need to hear is that it’s okay if I kill myself. Fuck, Kevorkian “helped” a few people with a history of depression. When I’m thinking suicide I’m not being rational. I’m so grateful that I’ve NEVER had anyone tell me it’s okay to kill myself when I’ve been in the abyss. Please tell me people really aren’t putting the stamp of approval on suicide for people with depression

  146. Stella says

    I have been in pain for over thirty years. The pain has been severe, disabling and constant since 1997. The meds do not take away the pain; they dull the pain a bit and make me stupid. The illnesses causing the pain are progressive but not terminal.

    Because I do not have access to assisted relief, I will have to take my own life while I am still able to do so, well in advance of when I would otherwise choose to die. Not having legal assistance to relief affects both the quality and the length of my life.

    Stella

  147. rowanvt says

    @KellyW-

    Actually, one of them was. My transgender friend was suffering extreme depression for a while. And you know what? She told me later that my acceptance of it being her choice for what was best for her at the moment is what allowed her to pull back from that brink. It was something she realised she had actual control over, and that encouraged her to try to take more control over her general situation.

    I am not going to tell a depressed person whether their depression is ‘bad enough’ to warrant suicide or not. If their depression is so unregulated that they can’t stand to exist anymore, I am not going to make them feel like shit over that decision. It’s a personal decision. I would prefer them to not kill themselves, and see if something can help. But I, as someone who does not have depression (though my brother does), am not going to make that decision for them.

    I am very likely to get alzheimers. Once “I” start going, I will probably commit suicide. I don’t want to slowly lose who I am. But I guess that means I’m putting the stamp of approval on suicide for individuals that aren’t in their right frame of mind.

  148. Stella says

    rowanvt,

    The problem is how to decide when and how to die. I’d rather not involve others, but others might be able to do a better and later job. It’s the law that has decided to refuse me help.

    Beatrice,

    I appreciate any good feelings, including hugs, that I can get. What I really need is for the law to allow me to have a friendly, gentle death. I promise I’ll pay up front.

    Stella

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