They rang our fathers anonymously »« But we just don’t see it that way

Die in your bed full of shit, says Giles Fraser

Giles Fraser notes that choice in dying has a lot of public support. He bravely dissents from this public support. He says why.

These days, people say they want to die quickly, painlessly in their sleep and without becoming a burden. Apparently, this is what a good death now looks like. Well, I want to offer a minority report.

I do want to be a burden on my loved ones just as I want them to be a burden on me – it’s called looking after each other. Obviously, I know people are terrified of the indignity of dying and of being ill generally. Having someone wipe our bums, clean up our mess, put up with our incoherent ramblings and mood swings is a threat to our cherished sense of personal autonomy.

But this is where the liberal model of individual self-determination breaks down. For it is when we are this vulnerable that we have little choice but to allow ourselves to be loved and looked after. Lying in a bed full of our own faeces, unable to do anything about it, is when we break with the idea of René Descartes’ pernicious “I think therefore I am”.

Stupid, stupid, stupid man. I know he can’t be stupid really, but my god what a stupid thing to say. If he wants to be helpless and let loved ones care for him, then he can choose that (provided the loved ones exist and agree). The issue is not mandatory help in dying, it’s the ability to choose it if you choose it. If and only if. Where does he get the fucking arrogance to think that because he thinks a slow painful helpless shit-the-bed death is the way to go, therefore the choice to say no to that should remain illegal for everyone?

I know where he gets it, I suppose; he gets it from being a priest, which brings with it a mental certificate of moral rightness. He thinks that what he thinks must be a law for everyone.

No, we are not brains in vats. We are not solitary self-defining intellectual identities who form temporary alliances with each other for short-term mutual advantage. My existence is fundamentally bound up with yours. Of course, I will clean you up. Of course, I will hold your hand in the long hours of the night. Shut up about being a burden. I love you. This is what it means to love you. Surely, there is something extraordinarily beautiful about all of this.

Stupid. Of course it’s beautiful if it’s what you want. But equally of course it’s not beautiful if it’s what you don’t want. It’s not any kind of denial or betrayal of love, either. Don’t try that on for one second. That’s just moral blackmail of a peculiarly disgusting kind. We all need to be able to decide what we can stand and when we want to end it when we can’t stand it any more. We do not need unctuously bullying clerics telling us we have to keep on standing it because “I will hold your hand in the long hours of the night.” (Oh really? Giles Fraser is going to hold the hand of all of us? No of course he’s not, and he shouldn’t say he is. His existence is not bound up with mine, either. I know that was rhetoric, and it’s a generic “you” and a generic “I” – but it also isn’t. It’s manipulative that way.)

But it is also right to push back against the general assumption that pain reduction is unproblematic. For pain is so much a part of life that its suppression can also be a suppression of a great deal of that which is valuable. Constantly anaesthetising ourselves against pain is also a way to reduce our exposure to so much that is wonderful about life.

Yet too many of us make a Faustian pact with pharmacology, welcoming its obvious benefits, but ignoring the fact that drugs also can demand your soul. That’s perhaps why we speak of the overly drugged-up as zombies.

The same damn problem still. If you want pain, Mr Fraser, you can choose pain. That does not mean you get to force anyone else to choose it. It doesn’t even mean that anyone else should choose it.

Finally, the contemporary “good death” is one that happens without the dying person knowing all that much about it. But what about the need for time to say goodbye and sorry and thank you? It is as if we want to die without actually knowing we are dying.

Is he kidding? Who has the better chance of saying goodbye and sorry and thank you, people who don’t know when the end is or people who schedule it?

My problem with euthanasia is not that it is a immoral way to die, but that it has its roots in a fearful way to live.

That’s insulting. What a horrible, self-centered, sentimental yet ruthless article.

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    That pain thing is just theological bullshit. No, suffering does not redeem us. No, pain is not a necessary pedagogical tool. No, severe injustice is not necessary to build character. You only think that because you’ve been bound up with a philosophy that says that god imposes pain so that you can learn to kiss his ass better. And it’s all bullshit.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    … drugs also can demand your soul.

    Then why isn’t there an FDA warning on the packages?

  3. says

    This whole “time to say goodbye” meme needs to be whacked over the head with a shovel and buried.

    My dad’s in a nursing home — he’s been having a pretty tough time this year. Thing is, his brain is mush. He’s suffered through several consecutive bouts of delirium. He’s not going to get better. He went from “nice old guy able to fend for himself” to “seriously demented old guy who doesn’t recognize his loved ones, can’t talk, and shits himself.”

    So, where is this rosy picture of loved ones kneeling at the bedside while everyone lovingly says goodbye and then he dies ever-so-peacefully with maybe a little cough at the end? With the dying person in complete control of their faculties?

    It’s nowhere. This scenario does not exist. Has never existed outside of bad Victorian novels where the heroine dies of consumption (which was and is still a helluva painful way to die, FWIW).

    Fucking preachers and their Pollyanna universe. I wish him pancreatic cancer with bone metastases. Then we’ll see how dignified he is.

  4. opposablethumbs says

    Bet he just looooves the (apparently sadistic?) Mother Theresa, too. Excuse me while I vomit.

    I can think of few worse ends (in the peacetime first world existence I am privileged to experience) than for someone like this to have the power to impose his beliefs on your last days. Or weeks. Or months …

  5. A. Noyd says

    If the immortal soul of Mother Teresa and the natural childbirth movement had a lovechild it would sound just like Fraser.

  6. Alverant says

    I don’t like the “die in your sleep” thing. I want at least a little warning, even if it’s just, “Look out for that bus!”

  7. STH says

    I don’t think he has any idea what horrors disease can wreak on you. What a disgustingly romanticized view of death he has. That will change someday when he sees what it’s like.

    Kevin–so sorry about your father. Mine died a year ago in the same situation; pneumonia, then a heart attack, finally ended the misery for him and his whole family. I understand now why they call pneumonia “the friend of the elderly.” Much strength to you and your family; it’s terribly hard, I know.

  8. says

    This is just disturbing. That religious impulse toward reveling in the debasement of humanity (preferably OTHER members of humanity) is truly repellent.
    Everything you said, Ophelia, goes double for me. Having nursed my mother through her dying days virtually single-handedly (not even hospice care was available to us) and knowing how desperately she did not want the indignity of hospital, strangers handling her most private needs, etc, these words of this man – the desire he has to FORCE people to endure that kind of loss of dignity, is little short of sadistic.

  9. hoary puccoon says

    Well, okay, he talked about shitting in the bed, so he showed us all he can grapple with reality. Now, when is he going to talk about pain? When is he going to talk about losing our mental faculties to the point we don’t recognize our own family?

    Both my parents died of natural causes. But they both died painlessly in their sleep, after it had become obvious there was no hope of a cure. And in both cases I was relieved that they weren’t going through more hopeless struggle. Am I supposed to feel guilty about that? That I didn’t spend months playing the martyr, showing what a good daughter I was? Wiping up their shit and their puke while they lay there, helpless and humiliated, longing for death? Well, I don’t feel guilty. Not at all. I loved my parents when they were active and enjoying their lives. I didn’t wait until they were dying to show it.

  10. hoary puccoon says

    I wrote that before reading Kevin and nifty atheist’s posts. I didn’t mean to imply that either one of you– especially not nifty atheist- was playing the martyr. I know what you went through or are still going through is really tough.

  11. smhll says

    I don’t think he has any idea what horrors disease can wreak on you. What a disgustingly romanticized view of death he has. That will change someday when he sees what it’s like.

    I agree. He seems to be speaking in rosy fictions, without lived, factual experience. I doubt that he’s ever been close to dying himself, spent much time with a dying relative, or has even cleaned up much shit in his life.

  12. noxiousnan says

    That piece really seems to be written from ignorance. I wonder if he’s ever experienced either sustained pain or caring for an elder relative. It’s all romantic gushing with no substance.

    I experienced about two weeks of strong, constant pain. I didn’t benefit from it except for increasing my empathy for people who have to live with pain. I was delirious much of the time and my brain occupied itself constantly with flashes of color and noise and images, I assume to distract from the pain. It certainly wasn’t a time to think great thoughts or even notice loved ones except to see that they were clearly distressed and feeling helpless.

    I have also experienced caring for a loved one (LO). He’s right on one count, I didn’t care a bit about bum wiping, except as how it obviously embarrassed LO. I did care very much about the needless suffering of LO who felt she’d lived a good five years too long, and could only talk to me about it because everyone else gave her the happy crappy God works in his own time bullshit. I was her secret confidante.

    I’ve been pleased to watch over the years the increasing attitude that quality can trump quantity when it comes to living. Fraser’s opinion is the minority now; it didn’t used to be.

  13. says

    Is he kidding? Who has the better chance of saying goodbye and sorry and thank you, people who don’t know when the end is or people who schedule it?

    That really is a massively stupid thing he said, isn’t it? My mom was barely responsive to speech the last three years of her life — no good byes for her (not that she would have been a candidate for euthanasia, as she wasn’t in pain, and appeared to have some capacity to enjoy her surroundings). In the end, she died suddenly from heart attack or stroke or because the Parkinsons finally took out some crucial synapse, we don’t know which.

    My family knows (and I’ll put it in writing next time I update my will and directives): if I’m ever in the grip of some degenerative neurological/mental disorder, whatever cardiovascular meds I may be on are to be stopped, and a DNR put in place for the ensuing CV event.

  14. says

    hoary puccoon – no worries. I did not read your post as anything other than your honest feelings and I feel exactly the same way. No guilt. no martyrs, either. We do the best we can for our loved ones, but it is infuriating – even sickening – that htere always seem to be ghouls like this who are panting to make it more difficult, more messy, more painful, more devastating in every way.
    The doctrine of glory through suffering is the singular most offensive Christian doctrine, in my opinion. For so many reasons and on so many levels.

  15. Steve LaBonne says

    I was trying to imagine what kind of person could display such a nauseating mixture of cruelty and ignorance. Then I got to the middle of the OP and saw “he’s a priest”. Ah, that explains it.

  16. says

    I wonder what’s the worst pain Giles Fraser’s ever experienced?

    Even if he’s had something major, he has no damn right to chose for other people.

    Me and my husband agree that wiping the bum of someone you live is no worse than wiping your own baby’s bottom. But we both understand that not everyone feels the same way.

  17. SecMilChap says

    When we know how many hours he’s spent as a hospice caregiver, especially in the final days of many lonely persons without control of bodily functions, such as he’s described, we might decide that he has credentials to publicly state his immoral screed. It won’t be any less immoral, but might, just might, be justified as something that might be said out loud. Whadda Creep!

  18. says

    @7: Thanks for the kind words. I know my situation isn’t unique–many of my friends and acquaintances of my age are going through similar things with their elderly parents. But it’s difficult nonetheless.

    Which makes this kind of mindless claptrap so much more the worse. Surely, the man has seen how death really works in the contest of pastoral duties? Is he that blinkered? The unbelievable arrogance of someone who can’t be content with telling people how they should live — he has to interfere with how they die as well.

  19. Ulysses says

    I worked as an orderly in a nursing home for a couple of years. There’s nothing dignified about cleaning up someone’s shit after they’ve lost bowel control. It’s especially unpleasant when they’re still oriented x3 so they know they’ve shit themselves and know someone else has to clean up the mess. I remember cleaning up one old man who said to me “I hate this, you hate this, and both of us wish I would die so neither of us have to deal with it any more.” I didn’t disagree with him.

    Frasier thinks it would be cozy in a “you changed my diapers when I was a baby so now I’m changing yours, ain’t it loverly?” way. In reality, most people gag when they have to clean a shitty person and bed. Shit stinks, it often oozes, and it’s disgusting to deal with.

  20. says

    Quite so. I carefully did not read Eric on the subject before I vented my fury, because I knew reading his would render mine supererogatory.

  21. leni says

    Even for those times when a dying person is still capable of communicating and has their faculties, there is no reason you can’t sit by bedside and maybe clean up a shit for a time before they decide to end it.

    It’s not as if avoiding pain and indignity requires slipping your loved one a preventative dose of Propofol after the first chemo treatment.

    Neither do you have to let it go to the bitter end just for the sake of it. I don’t see any reason (in those perhaps rare cases) why there can’t be a middle ground that most reasonable people should be able to identify and deal with, especially with the help of medical and hospice professionals. And I don’t see any reason why you can’t work it out ahead of time for the more common cases where things aren’t so easy, which is why we have living wills.

    Another thing occurs me- he makes it seem as if assisted suicide is a cowardly thing to do, and not something that actually might be more painful and difficult than cleaning up shit for your loved ones. I don’t know if he’s right about that. It certainly doesn’t seem like a given.

    And yet another thing occurs to me- it’s easy to accuse people of fear of shit when you aren’t the one cleaning it up. It’s the low-paid nursing assistants doing that. You just get to sit by the bedside and wax poetic about the majesty of suffering while none of it is yours.

  22. says

    “Finally, the contemporary ‘good death’ is one that happens without the dying person knowing all that much about it. But what about the need for time to say goodbye and sorry and thank you? It is as if we want to die without actually knowing we are dying.” …blah, blah, blah.

    Fraser blunders onto something significant here: death hasn’t got all that much going for it. But in my view, its one and only redeeming feature is that you never know that it’s happened to you.

    If his worldview is still traditionally Christian, Fraser probably believes that he will know he has died by the sudden aggregation of ministering angels, bright, glorious light and music beyond the most syrupy imagination in Hollywood. Perhaps even Joshua bar Joseph himself will be there to greet him just north of St Peter’s gate.

    On the other hand, if he keeps publishing bullshit like this, some colonel in the Legion of Angels might ask: “Do we really need more of his ilk up here? You can’t take a cruise among the clouds without one of them jumping out from behind cover and giving you a spray It’s like the bloody Ghost Train!.”

    If the Idea In The Sky was to agree, Fraser could find himself on the down escalator: in a subduction zone.

  23. says

    Sally Strange:
    No, suffering does not redeem us. No, pain is not a necessary pedagogical tool. No, severe injustice is not necessary to build character. You only think that because you’ve been bound up with a

    Especially not when we’re dying! Even suppose an agonizing death granted the deceasant instant +50 wisdom, so what? They don’t get to use it ‘cuz they’re, ummmmm, dead.

  24. says

    Another way of thinking about deathbed wisdom is that it’s the deceasant’s final performance. While they may not be able to use the +50 wisdom boost they earn by dying, those around them may also learn something, and that’s possibly within the deceasant’s choice. Thus, we who will outlive Iain Banks will admire his cool savoire faire in his recently posted letter (I think Banks got +75 wisdom on that roll) or Terry Pratchett’s beautiful speeches and documentary about his experiences. – we learn from these, and if some religious douchebag tells those people that they do not have the right to whatever control they have over their final walk on life’s stage, they diminish us all.

    He’ll probably waste his last minutes in doubt about his imaginary helpmeet and terrible overlord. I think Socrates did it better, mmm?

  25. Feline says

    But it is also right to push back against the general assumption that pain reduction is unproblematic. For pain is so much a part of life that its suppression can also be a suppression of a great deal of that which is valuable. Constantly anaesthetising ourselves against pain is also a way to reduce our exposure to so much that is wonderful about life.

    The words of a shithead who has never experienced any significant amount of pain.
    I mean, a couple of months ago I got sliced up by professionals because of a perianal abscess. When asked to grade my pain on a scale from one to ten I settled for a nine, because I’m sure I could be in more pain even though I couldn’t imagine how. Their response was “we will stuff you with enough drugs to confuse the most adept pharmacist and then use knives to fix you”, which is a methodology I approve of. If their response had been “you must be in this much pain for the rest of your life” I would have punched my way through any amount of nurses to find enough drugs to kill myself. No joke.
    And that’s an easy variant of horrible pain. It got solved, it probably won’t return, all is good. What if it will never go away?
    There is no nobility in horrible pain, not even it is unsolvable. I joke about the pain I was in being “kill me now”, but it was temporary. If it’s permanent? I can’t see myself daring to say anything about it or any choice the person suffering it makes. For all the asshole I am.

  26. mildlymagnificent says

    But this isn’t even what good hospice care involves. I remember a nun from our biggest catholic hospice talking to a group I was in. They. Give. You. The. Option. The option being oblivion.

    If you don’t want to suffer through those last days or weeks, they will happily give you enough medication all day every day so that you know nothing about it. We’ve seen enough relatives decline through dementia to know that pneumonia really is the “old man’s friend”. My grandmother cared for her mother (we little kids thought of her as the scary lady in black in the corner) for many dementing years – at least she remembered who it was from day to day except she told her that “I don’t know who you are, dear, but you’re very kind to me.” She was reasonably easy to care for apart from keeping the gate locked. Leave it open and she’d be off like a shot.

    We hadn’t thought about Eamon’s living will option of instructing withdrawal of cardiovascular (or other life sustaining) medication once we are beyond hope of any enjoyment of life. We’ll be doing that too.

  27. says

    SO why isn’t this mope spending his time wiping shit off the asses of his universally beloved, instead of inflicting all this crap on the reading public? It would certainly be more useful.

    You know, I’ve spent actual time, paid and unpaid, wiping shit off actual human asses — and off some of the many and varied other interesting places shit gets into when the going gets, well, it’s called Code Brown. I could write tomes about the varieties of human shit that exist in the world. As a rule, it’s unpleasant. The exceptions? Very unpleasant, and dangerous. And I still prefer the real thing to the metaphorical shit excreted in the quoted mess above.

    You know what else? Cleaning up shit from live people’s bodies without hurting them takes skill and care, which will substitute for love quite well. Therefore, despite what I implied at the top of this post, I wouldn’t trust this Fraser guy to wipe the shit off my ass or the ass of anyone I cared about. Or anyone else.

    But I guess if he did hurt someone while wiping their shit, he’d tell them it was all in the service of character-building, or a learning experience, or, as they said in the old days: Just offer it up.

  28. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I didn’t see anywhere in the writing of Fraser quoted here that indicates an advocacy of a policy of making assisted suicide or even euthanasia illegal. Everything you quoted says that he wants to make it less undesirable, less problematic to choose to live when we are a burden to others.

    There are problematic aspects to “I don’t want to be a burden to others”. I affirm the right to choose to die. I will not interrogate the individual motives of persons who make that choice.

    But by F I sure as death want to participate in a shift in culture that values the life in a rapidly disintegrating body as much as the life in a growing or slowly disintegrating one. To the extent that Fraser wants people to live free of guilt for the “burden” of remaining alive when one can’t wipe one’s own ass, I’m with Fraser.

    If you have a quote of him saying assisted suicide should be illegal or that the choice itself (rather than a culture that influences that choice towards death) is immoral, I’ll happily denounce him. I sure as heck denounce his loathing of analgesics.

    But if you’re going to denounce him for arguing that

    because he thinks a slow painful helpless shit-the-bed death is the way to go, therefore the choice to say no to that should remain illegal for everyone

    then quote him arguing that. Until then, me and a whole ton of people with disabilities will resent able bodied people who jump from “Person X says our cultural assumptions around ability are F’d up” to “Person X says that they want to outlaw my choice to die, if and when I make it.”

    We have good reasons to be suspicious of this ableist culture and the knee jerk equation of those positions just makes us trust those of you who make this jump less and less. That applies to Ophelia **IF** the original doesn’t include an explicit call to make euthanasia illegal – otherwise it’s just sloppy as hell in her argument. This certainly applies to others on this list who jumped in with Ophelia without reading something where a call for making (or keeping) euthanasia was explicitly made by Fraser.

  29. Jonny Vincent says

    He is a priest so he is a leech.

    The Church is built on the Rock of Human Suffering. Without suffering, how could they bring you close to God (them)?

    Religion exists by virtue of reducing humans to their lowest common denominator, then reducing them further with misery. Misogyny is the sharpest arrow in their quiver.

    Let us all lean on each other. Create misery for each other. Be dependent on each other. Be confused. Be unhappy. Be needy. Without Self, let us live in conflict with each other.

    Let us call it love.

    The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was changing the logic around to illogical, frightening humans into imagining he was God.

  30. says

    Crip Dyke – did you bother to look at the article itself? Or did you just skip that step for the sake of writing a long comment based on not bothering to look at the article and just looking at the selections I quoted here, as appears to be the case.

    He starts with public opinion and the right to die and the likely eventual law.

    I didn’t quote that bit because I assumed – as is standard blog practice – that people could click on the link, and I wanted to focus on his dreadful “arguments.”

    So don’t you shout at me because you couldn’t be bothered to look at the article.

  31. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Ophelia, I said this applied to you **IF** the original article didn’t include an explicit statement of a desire to outlaw assisted suicide/euthanasia.

    Obviously, I didn’t bother to read the article itself. I find it remarkable that nowhere in the OP did you find it necessary to say that he wanted to make/keep AS/E illegal.

    To clarify, I didn’t read the linked article because it wasn’t relevant to the point I was making, as I’ll explain below.

    You could have stated it right up front, but you didn’t. I would have believed you. Instead, you put up:

    Giles Fraser notes that choice in dying has a lot of public support. He bravely dissents from this public support. He says why.

    Declining to support something is not the same as making it illegal. While I recognize a wry turn of phrase here, this still doesn’t provide me with the explicit information that makes your statements make sense.

    What I’m taking on here, and what I’ve recently taken on over at Pharyngula, is that people here too often denigrate the opponents and arguments of others who find cultural problems related to right to die arguments and even choices to die – even when such denigration is not deserved.

    I personally find it simply incredible that I was the only one not to click through on the link, yet your other commenters were engaging in rather strident and uniform criticism of Fraser for holding an opinion which your OP doesn’t even identify him as holding. You can call me ridiculous for assuming that some of your readers didn’t click through before forming an opinion – even in the absence of a recommendation of clicking through – but that seems to me to assume an unreasonable amount of thoroughness of blog readers. Not nearly all are so dedicated. [plus think of the absurdity of linking to something that has links, etc. It can’t possibly be that *all* of the authors expect all of their links to be read]

    Moreover, focus on the arguments? Look, this is sloppy on your part. I could go off on the horrid nature of someone’s argument when they talk about the difference in flavor between yellow curry and green curry, and I’d be right if they were using the difference to argue for the existence of a god, but I’d be wrong if they were arguing that one tasted better with eggplant.

    To go after the arguments without making quite clear in what service the arguments are being put is sloppy of you.

    And to do it in this circumstance relies on the fact that either A) all of your readers are going to click on the link, or B) your readers will assume that asserting AS/E should be illegal can be assumed from arguing it’s okay to be a burden and that in those moments we cannot care for ourselves others have tremendous opportunities to show their love for us.

    You may very well believe that everyone who reads your original post reads all of the links in your OP (and authors of those linked articles will certainly assume that we who come to read their OPs will of course click through on all their links), but that’s not the case. Since it’s not the case, I deem it a statistical certainty that some of the commenters agreeing with how messed up is Fraser’s writing did not, in fact, click through and were therefore engaging in B above. I find that conflation to be horribly problematic, and I don’t need to read Fraser’s post to say so. The evidence of that conflation is entirely on this page. What isn’t certain from this page is whether or not *you* did so…which is why I openly said that my criticism may very well not apply to you.

    Seriously, Ophelia, I trust you. Just say that Fraser was arguing for AS/E to be made/kept illegal & then I have no problem with anything your commenters say, because they aren’t any of them doing it from a problematic conflation, they’re doing it on the evidence of your word and your willingness to link to the criticized writing even if they don’t click through.

    But on top of that, why am I “shouting” in my comment? You’re aguing against a position you don’t like without quoting the position against which you’re reacting…or even making that position clear.

    Telling me not to shout when I’m not shouting is as problematic as me saying that your OP was shouting. Frankly, it comes across as saying [in the absence of all caps or other violations of internet decorum] that I’m being too emotional, and *that* is problematic as well.

  32. says

    Crip Dyke – well, true, you were no more shouting than I was…but then I was shouting, and might agree that I was if someone said so (or I might bristle; I’m not sure).

    I don’t agree with you about the way I presented Fraser’s article. I think the article opposes the legalization of assisted suicide and that my first para says that.

    Of course declining to support something is not the same as making it illegal, but Giles Fraser doesn’t have the power to make something illegal in any case (and neither does any other individual). He has the power to say it shouldn’t be made legal, and that’s what I take him to have been saying. So do other people who have read the article.

  33. Joey Maloney Who Is Unable To Login For Some Obscure Reason says

    @6, Alverant – How’s that old joke go? “I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather – not screaming in terror like his passengers.”

  34. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Ophelia, I’d also like to say we’ve had a couple of significant disagreements, and I just wanted to clarify that if I don’t post here affirmatively much more often than I post here critically, it’s because most of the time I would have nothing to add. I read near everything you post and am better and more informed for it.

  35. says

    My existence is fundamentally bound up with yours. Of course, I will clean you up. Of course, I will hold your hand in the long hours of the night. Shut up about being a burden. I love you. This is what it means to love you.

    this is fundamentally missing the point. I don’t want the right to die because otherwise I’ll be a burden. Being a burden is perfectly ok with me (tho I’d prefer to be a burden on a well-funded state rather than relatives, because relatives are sometimes poor people with little time and money for this). I want the right to die because I don’t want to be stuck in painful misery, not remembering who I am, not remembering who everyone else is, and not being allowed to take enough painkillers to actually kill the pain, lest i accidentally overdose.

    This is Mother Theresa level bullshit. I’m not gonna fucking suffer just so you can feel noble, you fucking selfish assface.

  36. says

    the general assumption that pain reduction is unproblematic. For pain is so much a part of life that its suppression can also be a suppression of a great deal of that which is valuable.

    the RCC and its worship of suffering needs to stop existing. Vile vulturous vampires.

  37. tyrion says

    The thing that’s avoided in all these discussions (and where I fully agree with cripdyke) is the concern that legalising euthanasia will lead to a general expectation of choosing death in a multitude of circumstances. I have been suicidal over my disability; it would have only taken one or two people agreeing that my quality of life was poor and offering a peaceful way out and I would have taken it.

    I fight frequently with colleagues who try to decline disabled people treatment based on their ‘poor quality of life’ – these are disabled people who want to live yet there is a constant refrain of ‘I wouldn’t want to live in that situation, so I’m not going to push to save this person’s life’.

    I have seen treatment withdrawn on a man with spina bifida and septic shock – no serious attempt was made to save him because of his ‘poor quality of life’. Another man was deaf mute and so no treatment was offered for his entirely reversible renal failure (well, it was offered, because I started it, but it was withdrawn without my knowledge after I handed him over to another team, because of his poor quality of life.).

    I do fear what will happen in medicine and nursing once we start deciding that there are situations in which it is not worth living. I think it will accelerate what I am seeing, and it terrifies me.

    Oh, and in a round table discussion with some junior doctors, they reached a consensus that treatment for life threatening conditions should not be offered to anyone who has no biological next of kin, and no legal partner, on the grounds of ‘what’s the point in saving someone who has no family?’

    The discussion needs to be around how we allow euthanasia while protecting those who don’t have the privilege of being able bodied, or having family who will speak for them, or whose lives are already undervalued. All I’m seeing is cherrypicked examples offered by the pro-euthanasia brigade, and as someone who works on the front line of this, and is also on the front line by virtue of disability, it doesn’t reassure me one bit.

  38. A. Noyd says

    Can I point out that pain and anxiety are themselves mind-altering and “reduce our exposure to so much that is wonderful about life”? That’s bad when it comes from pain-suppressing drugs and gift-from-god growing-as-a-person goodness when it comes from suffering.

  39. Ysidro says

    Whoa. Minor ephiphany brought on by lack of sleep. You know how some folks are always harping on about “death panels” and the like? It’s all projection. They don’t want to die and they think you shouldn’t either. So when someone says “I want the option to die in a peaceful manner if I chose it”, they hear “I think everyone should be executed before they get too sick.”

    Or maybe I just need to get out of work and into bed.

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