Guardian Watch, Kit, latest
Comments 173

“Right to Die”, or Right to Kill?

by Kit

Harold Shipman murdered 250 people. A right to die law would make him a humanitarian who broke no laws.

The Guardian’s “Comment is Free” section makes for predictable reading this morning. John Harris says Brexit is bad and Corbyn is to blame, Shon Faye writes that trans rights are a class issue and Rhil Samadde going off on one about handshakes and Donald Trump.

There’s nothing there about veganism or how Vladimir Putin causes global warming, but it’s still only early.

Truly serious issues coveredNone.
Set-menu “liberal” agendas pushedSeveral.
Virtue signalledLoudly and at length.

The worst offender is Polly Toynbee, and that’s not really unusual: She thinks we should have a “right to die” law.

The Gosport Scandal involved healthcare workers murdering patients with morphine, and Harold Shipman murdered patients with morphine. Polly thinks the best way fix this would be to make murdering patients with morphine legal.

The logic is flawless.

She outright dismisses the argument such a law could be abused with one sentence:

The difference between unwanted death and assisted suicide can be encapsulated in one word: choice.

And then does the same with the “slippery slope” argument with another:

Those who, mainly for religious reasons, claim it would be a slippery slope to Gosport-style dangers, deliberately ignore how a law would prevent another Gosport, with proper regulation bringing transparency to end-of-life treatment.

Both these statements miss the point entirely – Objecting to the “right to die” law isn’t a religious argument, or a moral one, but simply a practical one.

The law could be abused, and it is a slippery slope.

A law, any law, is (or should be) for the protection of the majority of decent people from the criminal minority. Writing a law that grants a “right to die” leaves a loophole for vulnerable people to be taken advantage of.

It is the same argument for suicide being illegal.

Suicide isn’t illegal to stop people taking fifty aspirin or nose-diving off the Golden Gate, but to protect impressionable, vulnerable people from being manipulated into ending their lives.

If the law that Polly is advocating here existed twenty years ago, Harold Shipman would never have broken any laws or seen the inside of jail cell.

Passing a “right to die” law now would allow future Shipmans to operate with impunity, entirely within the bounds of law, or avaricious next of kin to knock grandma off early for the inheritance, all in the name of humanitarianism.

And that’s just on the individual level.

On the state level, we already have a Tory government that has caused 120,000 deaths through barbaric austerity, that has told the disabled and the dying they must return to work, that has halted state-support for people with cancer, or people in wheelchairs.

Thousands of people have died after being declared “fit for work”.

We have a Tory MP who has argued for halting life-extending care for the over-eighties. How long after the “right to die” law is passed will it stop being a “right” and start being a “duty”? How long before people who don’t avail themselves of their right to die are deemed to be “wasting public money” or “putting a strain on the NHS”?

Will people have their pensions or other benefits halted for refusing to make the right “choice”?

The State already has too much power, and has shown that they will abuse it at every turn. Granting them more would be, in this case, literally suicidal.

It is an accepted fact of life that well-intentioned healthcare professionals, using their own experience and judgment, almost certainly do help terminal patients over the finish line sometimes. Such a practice is a complex moral grey area, between the doctors, patients and their respective consciences.

The “right to die” does exist in our society, as an informal agreement between informed individuals on an ad hoc basis.

For the sake of protecting the public from sociopathic individuals, or a merciless state, it needs to remain that way.


173 Comments

  1. Marie says

    The author is right to ask “How long after the “right to die” law is passed will it stop being a “right” and start being a “duty”?”.
    If you haven’t seen Richard Fleischer’s 1973 film “Solyent Green”, it’s time you did.

  2. Francis Lee says

    Of course it is something of an open secret that the liberals and remainers openly despise older people. This given the fact that older people tended to vote ‘Leave’ in the EU Referendum. Flagrant examples of hate speech are to be found in the liberal media involving such choice epithets as ‘wrinkly bastards’ ‘coffin dodgers’ and ‘old gits’. Yes it’s open season on those pensioners who have the temerity to live and claim a pension. Try using this language against any other minority and you’d soon be in hot water.

  3. Aside from doctors (and society) playing god we have nurses, ahem:
    Toronto Hospital For Sick Children baby deaths
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_hospital_baby_deaths

    Homicides
    The Cardiac ward of the Hospital for Sick Children began what was subsequently found to be a several-fold increase in mortality in 30 June 1980.[1] Within two months twenty patient deaths led to a group of nurses approaching the unit’s cardiologists, but they kept investigation limited and in-house to prevent a “morale problem”.[2] The excess deaths continued but it was not until March 1981 that a bereaved father’s extreme distress led to the coroner being brought in and detecting suspiciously high levels of a heart regulating medication digoxin, a powerful form of digitalis, in a dead baby.[3][4] Eight days later he was told an autopsy by the hospital had already found 13 times the normal concentration of the same heart drug in another dead baby.[5] The medication had not been subject to any security measures.[6][7] Police were called in and began to search staff lockers when another baby died from digoxin poisoning on 22 March 1981. Examination of work logs and other nurses’ subjective impression that a colleague had inappropriate reactions to the deaths led to the arrest and charging with murder of a nurse, who was released on bail[8] In January 1982 babies became ill in a separate department, it was later found epinephrine (which was not supposed to be on that ward) had somehow been substituted for vitamin E, there had been non-fatal unauthorized digoxin administration to other babies, and another death was, contrary to what the hospital said at the time, due to unauthorized administration of digoxin.[9] In September 1981, team leader nurse Phyllis Trayner (died 2011)[10] found heart drug capsules in food she was eating and another nurse found the capsules in her soup.[11][12]

      • By all means, carry on with discussing physician assisted suicide and the law. The original article is a response to Polly Toynbee’s avoiding the moral implications so I guess the point was about possible abuses of such a law.

        • Harry Stotle says

          Kit misrepresents Toynbee’s point of view with crass comments like “Polly thinks the best way fix this would be to make murdering patients with morphine legal.”

          Toynbee is pro physician assisted suicide with safe guards – argue against this by all means but repeated references to serial killers is wearing a bit thin.

          • Er, no, perhaps it’s YOU who misrepresents Kit’s view which references the Gosport scandal.

            Both these statements miss the point entirely – Objecting to the “right to die” law isn’t a religious argument, or a moral one, but simply a practical one.

            The law could be abused, and it is a slippery slope.

            A law, any law, is (or should be) for the protection of the majority of decent people from the criminal minority. Writing a law that grants a “right to die” leaves a loophole for vulnerable people to be taken advantage of.

            It is the same argument for suicide being illegal.

            Suicide isn’t illegal to stop people taking fifty aspirin or nose-diving off the Golden Gate, but to protect impressionable, vulnerable people from being manipulated into ending their lives….

            ..Passing a “right to die” law now would allow future Shipmans to operate with impunity, entirely within the bounds of law, or avaricious next of kin to knock grandma off early for the inheritance, all in the name of humanitarianism.

            In case you have an argument against what she had to say?

            At any rate the case I referenced, the Toronto hospital nurse who committed the digoxin murders may have been motivated by the need to help terminate the suffering of babies born with heart defects.

            Likewise, the Gosport scandal, by humanitarianism or a “faulty syringe design”? Dunno, but far too many observed instances of terminal cancer patients being given the final, lung stopping humanitarian morphine dose.

            Some do have that complex, and you can’t overlook that possibility to push through a right to die law.

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            • Harry Stotle says

              “..Passing a “right to die” law now would allow future Shipmans to operate with impunity, entirely within the bounds of law, or avaricious next of kin to knock grandma off early for the inheritance, all in the name of humanitarianism.” – nonsense on stilts.

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      • Dom Currie says

        I remember commenting on The Guardian when they were trying to get behind Falconer’s deeply flawed bill. Many commenters mistakenly thought the law would help those suffering from all kinds of illnesses like cancer. But it wouldn’t. Most oncologists would not consider cancer to be terminal. People like Tony Nicklinson would not have qualified. Falconer’s bill was very specifically targeted at seriously disabled people with diseases like MND and MS. The problem with the six months or less prognosis is that it’s already being exploited. GP’s happily sign people with MND on to the six month list because it entitles them to benefits.
        And, given that a large number of doctors are not pro-assisted dying, you’d have a nightmarish battlefield of legal, moral and medical arguments. It just wouldn’t work.
        For the record, i know a Guardian journalist who says he’s deeply ashamed of their support for ‘assisted dying’. Like their support of Falconer’s chum Blair, its appears to be an editorial line (from somewhere high up) that journalists are not allowed to question.

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        • “an editorial line (from somewhere high up) that journalists are not allowed to question”. I once had a CNN reporter in Rome say almost exactly the same thing, Dom. Imagine many BBC/Sky reporters have similar stories? Which is why sites like OffGuardian are so important.

  4. I have no position on this discussion. I will simply tell of my experience with assisted suicide. I hope for someone it might be helpful.
    Our lives are a tapestry of feelings and memories. We come into life alone and leave alone. Occasionally 2 individuals merge in a harmony where a glance needs no words. Emotion is shared. Responses and impressions are one. For me it was so for 28 years. When she called me from her office on the 3rd of August last year, I immediately knew something was wrong. I was there in 5 minutes. 30 minutes later she had a seizure. An hour later she was in the Hospital. A day later she was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma multiform and told she had 3 months to live. Possibly a year with chemo and radiation. The cancer occupied the entire left hemisphere of her brain. She looked at me and we both knew we would make it the best 3 months possible. She had one wish. “I don’t want to suffer” For her the choice for assisted suicide came after 2 months. In the Bay area of California, there is one doctor who performs this task. The initial contact was made and the process explained. She would have to convince the doctor she was coherent and not coerced into this decision. The first conversation would be by phone. A week later, as the doctors schedule allowed, there would be a meeting at our home. Then there would be a 2 week waiting period, the doctor would then return and determine if she was still capable of the decision to choose death and had the ability to physically self-administer a brew which was explained as foul in both taste and texture. This is an added precaution against coercion. It must be swallowed without assistance. The initial meeting went well although the doctor was suspicious of her good natured attitude at this point in her illness and her apparent good health, but would return in 2 weeks. The doctor said sometimes when a patient is as healthy as she, it might be necessary to administer something extra to stop her heart. All this is said in front of the subject to insure that they are fully aware of what is occurring.
    I listen every day to the recording on my cell phone of our practicing answers for the doctor during that 2 week wait. To the question “What is your name” she responds “Please plant these kids, they need something healthy…see..I Ohhhh my god, this is going to be ridiculous, it’s nobodies damned business to let people do what they want to do” During the 2 week wait, every morning when she woke, she would raise her one working hand to count on her fingers the days until the doctor came. She was determined to make it until that date and be able to drink what she called “the death” I didn’t know if she would be able to last the two weeks. I couldn’t think about it. I just wanted her to be comfortable. This morning I read Kits “Right to die or right to kill” and finally went up to the bedroom, after 8 months, to disassemble the structure I had made to contain her struggling as the cancer racked her body with sensations I can only imagine. I recalled the days when she knew she could no longer make it to the garden, no longer cook, no longer come down the stairs, no longer make it to the bathroom and the hardest for her……to no longer talk to me. She never took medication for pain. She simply waited and counted with sheer determination. The doctors date of arrival was postponed by 5 days as they had to attend a seminar. On the 3rd day of that additional wait she looked at me one last time and fell into a coma. 12 hours later she was dead. 3 months to the day. What do I think about assisted suicide? I don’t know.

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    • An extraordinary sad story told with humanity and humility. Like your partner, I’m also for assisted dying when I no longer view this life as worthwhile. And also like you, sometimes I realise I don’t know much anymore.

    • Ross says

      thanks for that. It is a very difficult subject. I wish you well.

  5. mikael says

    (Do you know what the term R- is, sometimes seen in hospitals, largly among elders, do you)

    Wooha, what an deadbeat, sorry debate, yup, the exuses are plenty, to downright refuseing what they in fact do, kill, and somehow, somebody tries to guid to debate into techincalitys, about whom pushed the button, where as the entire system is not regarded for what it is, its about cash, period, “save” cash, faster trunout/inns, more cash, yeah, we are not playing monopoly are we, huh.

    What again is completely lacking in this cases are the care of the person, regarded probably as brain dead, stupid old woman, etc, and try to argue against this stafs and doc. and you become an “problem”.
    Nothing pisses me of more than the way we treat our own people.
    I have seen them go in, after some months loks like an Junkie from Main street, an bloody zombie, and other complications coming from long time medical use, like becoming fat, serious orientetion problems, focus, etc, to weight to becoming increasingly more depresive, and you f…. dont know why, that, f….. is to me scary.
    They eat an coctail every bloody day, and lord know what food they get, with an interstrial system more and more like an living cadavre, that, is an medical bloody fact, medication kills people, its an weapon of mass destruction.

    Like the never ending hate propaganda in Norway against Young people on well fare, the entire elite, the establishemnts various mofo celebritys everybody is stacking up in line to scream into the faces of this children that they are lazy f…. scums and parasits, and some even use terms as useless eaters, yeah, specally the right ugh…. winged ones, they looove this kind of talking, like population control etc, etc.
    And it truns out that, statistiically if the f…. bothered to find, an flock of aprox, 1000 individs, thousand, not hundreds of thousands, and this children have/had problems ranging from cromozone issues as Down synd, to incest, physically dammaged beyond repair, etc, and that was it, in an population of 5 Millions, yeah, they are the reason for our economy is crashing, right, right.

    What I see is pure evil, humped with goood old fasion greed, humanity, in this days, are you f…. kidding me.
    I always find it far more intresting to read their explanations, when the truth is much worse.
    I for ex. knows that medication killed my father, thru blood thinners, made Him almost blind, and eventually after 2 years evolved cancer, liver cancer, the number one killer because of medication, do the f…. math.
    Doctors are not what you think they are, after years of problems with my spine I gave up.
    But I know one thing, never ever trust an doctor, not anyone of this scums and swindlers, like physiotheraphy, this mofo destroyed me completely, and on top of it, admited nothing, its your fault, never theirs, and Neurology, f…. should hang.
    Fact is, its about making Da Buck, nothing else matters.

    The Only time in my life I will have an shoot gun is the days I know I will be gone, either thru been “rebooted” into oblivion thru Alzhimers/etc or must move to an older care sites I dont care if its in Norway, they are to me, death camps, not sutable for any form of life, may the lord have mercy upon those that saw it and fighted it, killed in brad daylight, and that, is an fact.
    We live in an reality where the Money counts more than anything else, humanity have no room in an facistic society, where obviouslly Neo-Darwinianism is well alive an kicking, yeah, gives me an “warm and fuzzy” feeling.

    Yeah, and we havent debated vaccine yet, like Fractional Banking, one of the worst swindle in human history, Vaccines are pure hogwash, nothing else than that and is created sollely to make even more of Da Buck
    And where the bloody hell have I dragged religion into this, nowhere, because if I did so, it will be so bad that you would not belivie it anyway, but its bad, bad for us, and even worse for you.
    We indeed live in dark times.

    peace

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    • Kathy says

      I agree with your post. Hospitals are full of people used as guinea pigs and then dispatched when of no further useful purpose to the medical profession. It strikes me we are all now being seen as money generators. Ripe for farming. From the diagnosing of illness to the medication and to the trading of body parts, DNA and even aborted fetuses. Money and research is the only criteria. Ill people are worth money.
      From cradle to grave. We are being harvested. It seems we are being geared up to accept that all non workers are not worthy of life. This is all quite different from any idea of a compassionate easing out of life when there is no further hope left. Surely a sign of a good health service would be very few people in need of medication or hospitalization.

      • JudyJ says

        I agree with you and Mikael. It only dawned on me a couple of years ago how few illnesses and conditions – whether chronic, debilitating, short-lived, degenerative, genetic, nominally terminal, or psychologically damaging to the individual sufferer etc etc – can actually be cured in spite of many decades of research and constant assertions about how advanced medical science is. It appears to me that a patient only stands a chance of being cured by developed medicines if they have a bacterial infection (and of course that is now under threat with ever increasing resistance to antibiotics) or the body’s own defence mechanism combats the problem itself. But there are shelves and shelves of pharmaceutical products developed to alleviate symptoms or relieve pain which, because of continual demand for them, have the added bonus of reaping obscene sums of money for the pharmaceutical industry and, as a consequence, government coffers. Although in the main well-intentioned, GPs and hospital medical professionals are, effectively, agents paid for by the taxpayer to support the unscrupulous production and output of the pharmaceutical industry and little more. In short, my point is that, whilst I do not criticise the existence of palliative remedies, I am sceptical about whether an appropriate level, focus and resolve of research and development into actual finite ‘cures’ is being undertaken because of the financial implications for the pharmaceutical industry and, indeed, government bank balances.

        • Mishko says

          Your last sentence mentions you being sceptical. You can feel secure in the knowledge that the level is Not appropriate to say the least. Remember the charity drives for cancer, HIV/AIDS, hunger, Haiti and so on?
          Sir Bob Geldof to the rescue! We need him now more than ever, or so it seems.
          Or we never needed scams like that in the first place. Is what I am convinced of.

  6. Dave Lawton says

    What we do know is this with regards to the Gosport hospital deaths.

    The EU created Common Purpose to place fifth columnists throughout the British state institutions and were involved in this cover up.This will be an uncomfortable truth for many.They also infiltrated the BBC years ago.Sir Brian Jarman who investigated these deaths found out who was impeding his investigation.Notice how they cut him off when he mentioned the name. This is a ongoing investigation.Its Manslaughter or murder. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=kMDmHQpeGC0

  7. Baron says

    Yesterday, Baron tried to post a short riposte here, the system told him he posted too often, advised to slow down, the posting disappeared.

    You are not really that different from the Guardian then, are you, admin?

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    • Admin says

      That has nothing to do with us – it’s the built-in response of the comment software about which we can do nothing until we change the system. We NEVER disappear comments. We will moderate them for duplicate posting, being persistently and wildly off-topic or containing empty ad hom. That’s all.

      As we always have to say – please keep a copy of any long posts you make, as the system may well eat them. If your post hasn’t appeared within a minute and you haven’t received a notice it’s pending then re-post because it’s almost certainly gone to the great comment board in the sky

      Incidentally,do you usually refer to yourself in the third person?

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      • Baron says

        OK, Admin, apologies for the remark equating you to the Guardian fruitcakes.

        Talking about the new system, please, get close to the Disqus model, improve on it if possible, its biggest advantage is it allows for clarity when one’s responding to another post.

        Yup, the poorly educated Slav (another moniker for Baron) has always referred to himself in the third person for two simple reasons – it infuriates some (why?), but essentially it helps to differentiate the ‘blue veined barbarian from the East’ (the third moniker) from the thousands of others who post. Not perhaps the most ingenious way to be remembered (it’s one’s points that trump it), but hey, why not?

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  8. Robbobbobin says

    ‘The “right to die” does exist in our society, as an informal agreement between informed individuals on an ad hoc basis.

    For the sake of protecting the public from sociopathic individuals, or a merciless state, it needs to remain that way.’

    But where does leave any chronic or terminally suffering individuals who seek euthanasia but are locked by circumstance into resolutely anti-euthanasia environments? Or vice versa, where – say – a promotion-conscious hospice operative who would do Jack Kevorkian proud resolutely browbeats, wno physical restraints or other individuals involved, a constitutionally compliant and now also fragile individual, who has doggedly weathered a long progressive illness but is still not in the terminal stage and wishes to hang on for some end-of-life fulfilling event such as an imminent family birth or marriage, etc., into accepting the “Liverpool Care Pathway” or a deceptively pious lookalike just days or weeks before his or her death could have been ‘the way he or she wanted to go’?

    More than enough slippery slopes in there to save or fill a hundred thousand coffins, I should have thought.

    Perhaps a far more comprehensive legal floodlight is required to cover life and death, including robotics, cryogenics, new understandings of biology and neuroscience, etc., etc., as well as personal v social freedoms and ethics, etc., than the primitive searchlights of superstitions, totem religions and the nearly equally primitive claims of current practitioners of medical “science” (a.k.a. big-pharma driven statistical alchemy and $uppo$ition) and barely-suppressed authoritarian paternalisms that currently “inform” the searchlight-narrow supposed debate? If we were to get something viable into law by 2020 it might even last without fundamental revision right up to 2050 (!) with only a few thousand sociopathic and/or informed individuals and/or hapless victims climbing, falling or getting shoved down slippery slopes in the interim…

    • bevin says

      All we need is Love.
      Or comradeship.
      Mutual respect and contempt for the temptations that greed and gain offer, luring societies into cannibalism- for that is what snuffing out the lives of the vulnerable in order to ‘clear beds’, save rations or even spare ourselves inconvenience amounts to. A form of transubstantiation art the Communion Table of Capitalism whereby the flesh of the crazy, the incontinent and the inconvenient is turned into days in Spanish resorts, bottles of wine and hamburgers.
      The NHS, when founded reflected the comradeship which had emerged after decades of suffering, desperately close world wars and a general sense that every life is precious. After more than 40 years demolishing the progress made since the old Poor Law ruled we are back where we started in the world which Dickens recorded, except that in this world there is not even the slight saving grace of evangelical christianity. It has been replaced by a thin sub-Darwinian, Malthusian atheism which holds than there is not only no such thing as society but that there is no such thing as humanity either, all of us being no more than brutes, worthy of no more consideration than our power and wealth gives us.

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      When the AIDS epidemic was raging near where I worked and lived, the local gay community, many of whom I knew, organised their own euthanasia service, using doctors and nurses, not all gay, and imported and purloined drugs, to end needless suffering. Everybody kept quiet about it, but you sensed its operation as people died quickly, once cryptosporidosis, Kaposis sarcoma, PCP or neurological toxoplasmosis reached their hideous end-stages. No wailing about ‘slippery slopes’, then.

  9. Marian Taylor Baldwin says

    This is a quote from the Spectator article another commenter linked to in the thread. Could the risks and “slippey slope” be more clear?

    https://www.spectator.com.au/2017/01/murder-euthanasia-warning-netherlands/

    An un-named woman – an octogenarian living in a nursing home and experiencing dementia – was euthanised against her will. According to reports, she had made a comment in her advanced directive that she would like euthanasia “when I myself find it the right time”.

    The woman had been a resident in the nursing home for only seven weeks. During that time she was noted as being ‘frightened and angry’ wandering the halls of the facility at night and missing her family. This, the nursing home doctor concluded, meant that she was suffering unbearably. She assessed that the woman was no longer mentally competent and accepted that the written declaration she had made earlier in her advanced directive was an acceptable request for euthanasia.

    The Dutch Law allows for a request for euthanasia in an advanced directive to be acted upon after the satisfaction of all the other qualifying criteria. The law considers such a written statement as a ‘well-considered request for euthanasia’. How it can be known for certain that, at the time the request was written down, that the person understood fully the nature of their request is never explained.

    Compounding the problem, the woman’s expression of intent in her directive was not clear and should not have been accepted as an advance request according to the Dutch Euthanasia Commission. She had written, concerning euthanasia, that she wanted it, “when I myself find it the right time”. At the very least, this expression suggests that the woman wanted to approach the matter when she thought it was appropriate; implying that her own capacity to make a contemporary decision was important to her. Paradoxically, the doctor’s determination that capacity had been lost should have rendered her statement null.

    Various media reports point out that the woman was provided with a sedative in her coffee ‘to calm the woman down’. She was unaware that the sedative had been provided. The Trouw newspaper’s editorial discussed the issue of the provision of a pre-euthanasia sedative without the person’s knowledge, pointing to a recent case where a similar sedative was provided without consent in a bowl of apple sauce. They note that the Dutch Euthanasia Review Commission rightly considers such behaviour as ‘deceptive’.

    The Trouw editor concluded that the problem was real that the coffee-carried dose was too low. Why? Because the woman resisted when later the doctor moved to apply the lethal dose via syringe. The NLTimes described it this way:

    But when the infusion was inserted she “pulled back”, and while the doctor injected the euthanasia agent, she moved as if to get up. The doctor decided to continue while family members held the patient down. The woman died shortly afterwards.

    According to the UK Mirror, this story came to light via a report prepared by a Dutch Coroner for review by the Dutch Euthanasia Regional Review Committee. The Mirror says that the woman had said clearly several times “I don’t want to die” in the days before her death.

    The Euthanasia Review Committee is charged with reviewing the file and making a recommendation that would need to be endorsed by a second review committee.

    The Mirror concludes:

    The committee concluded though the doctor had acted in good faith, she should have stopped when the patient resisted.

    Committee spokesman Jacob Kohnstamm added he was in favour of the case going to court: “Not to punish the doctor, but to get judicial clarity over what powers a doctor has when it comes to the euthanasia of patients suffering from severe dementia.”

    The committee’s recommendations are now reportedly being considered by prosecutors and health officials.

    So, what happens after a euthanasia or assisted suicide death occurs and the doctor is found not to have fulfilled one or more of the criteria set down in the law? There should be a charge of homicide. Euthanasia or assisted suicide laws create an exception to the laws prohibiting homicide if certain criteria are observed. They were not observed in these cases; therefore the exception should not be applied. In Holland, it would seem that ‘good faith’ is enough to be let off with a little less than a slap on the wrist. But deciding what is and is not an act in ‘good faith’ is a tricky business. A wrongful death – even in ‘good faith’ is still a homicide and not simply a misdemeanour.

    It may be that this situation is being used deliberately to further the current debate on euthanasia and dementia and euthanasia and ‘tired of life’. It may be that the doctor was lax in her application to the paperwork; a simple mistake. But it just may be about a death outside of the confines set by the parliament – deliberately or otherwise – a homicide.

    Whatever the outcome, what is abundantly clear is that once we create legal excuses for killing there will be more excuses and more killing.

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    • Admin says

      So, if I am reading this right – in the Netherlands a person can say “I want to be euthanised in future when I think the time is right” and subsequently a doctor can use that statement as a basis for killing that person – even if they say they don’t want to die – because the doctor judges they are suffering unbearably and are not mentally competent to change their mind?

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      • PSJ says

        Yes, that looks like a correct reading to me.

        So, to get back to the claim in the article that has been disputed the most, if the Netherlands law had been operational in the UK while Dr. Shipman was killing people, he need only have persuaded his elderly patients to sign a declaration of future intent to be euthanazed, put a sedative in their coffee, and then euthanazed them and been guilty of nothing worse than what was done legally to the 80-yr old woman who was “assisted” to die after repeatedly saying she wanted to live!

        I think it’s reasonable to suggest he may well have been able to commit his murders legally, yes!

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      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        You will note that the incident is being investigated to determine whether the doctor erred in her actions. And prosecutors and health officials are assessing the circumstances, NOT Mirror editorialists. Running the world according to tabloid presstitutes and their desire to promote fear and hatred, for economic and ideological reasons, won’t contribute to human welfare. And if the prohibitionists win, it will not be people saying ‘I don’t want to die’ who will suffer, but vastly greater numbers saying, ‘Enough is enough-my suffering is pointless and wretched. I wish to go now, peacefully, before it gets worse, for me, the staff and my family.’, who will be ignored and told to ‘Suck it up!’.

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      • James Scott says

        Well that is according to the Spectator admin.Perhaps that example should be checked out.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      All that shews, Marian, is that one doctor may have acted against the intentions of the law, and is being investigated for it. That, it seems to me, is the system working appropriately. As we all know, or ought to know, the medical-industrial complex kills thousands every year, in every advanced country, because of mistakes, inappropriate surgical interventions and botched procedures and the effects of pharmaceutical medication etc. Singling out euthanasia, in my experience, usually leads back to some adherence to a religious dogma, or some other misguided ideological position. To argue that many, many people should suffer needlessly, against their expressed will, because of a few possible errors of judgment, does not concur with any moral calculus that I can respect.

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      • MoriartysLeftSock says

        You are using a faux dichotomy “either agonising death or euthanasia” to give a faux moral twist to the kind of “assisted suicide” the Nazis approved of.

        Are you going to call me a Zionist now?

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        • Admin says

          Let’s keep this free from ad hom and personal attacks please.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          No-I won’t dignify your cant with any rejoinder.

        • Harry Stotle says

          I agree its not a case of either, or, but we also have to accept not all pain can be palliated, and even if could there are still tens of thousands who cannot access appropriate palliative care (with no immediate prospect of this reality changing).
          https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/mum-says-seven-goodbyes-dying-12788192

          At the heart of good medicine is a willingness to listen to what the patient is saying and although it may be morally difficult for others to accept it is quite clear that not everybody wants to be forced to endure the final stages of terminal disease.

  10. Jen says

    I was prompted by Kit’s post and the original article by Polly Toynbee to search Google for any other views on that Toynbee article. I did not find any but I did find that Toynbee has written other articles advocating for a “right to die” law for people with terminal illnesses or chronic conditions causing pain and suffering.

    So Toynbee has long held this opinion and seized on the Gosport scandal to once again pursue this particular bee in her bonnet.

    I think the problem behind her post, that perhaps really offends Kit (he can criticise my observation if he wants), is the attitude Toynbee has, that whatever she says is so crystal clear and right, that anyone who might raise an objection or point out a flaw in her argument has to be a benighted and superstitious idiot. Look at what she says here:

    “… Those who, mainly for religious reasons, claim it would be a slippery slope to Gosport-style dangers, deliberately ignore how a law would prevent another Gosport, with proper regulation bringing transparency to end-of-life treatment …”

    The assumption is that most of those who object to a “right to die” law do so because of their religious beliefs, which she presumes the owners have not examined but have accepted uncritically, and that is why they object. She does not appear to consider that many who object do so because the law or loopholes in the law could be used by people – such as greedy relatives, cost-cutting hospital staff or even psychopaths like the notorious Dr Harold Shipman – to murder helpless patients, who need not be elderly people but also victims of accidents or violent crimes.

    Toynbee just blithely blunders on ahead, oblivious to the wreckage she leaves in her path.

    But this is what The Fraudian is about now … putting up articles that have little basis in fact or evidence, and written to arouse emotion leading to action (and damn the consequences) at the expense of reason.

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    • Harry Stotle says

      It is a logical fallacy to deny rights because of the risk of abuse.

      For example we don’t ban motor cars because nearly 2,000 people are killed on the roads by bad drivers each year (and many more injuries, some very serious).

      Neither do we ban alcohol or gambling despite wide ranging externalities.

      The primary argument is whether or not euthanasia should be legalised, and if so developing procedures to protect people.

      In my opinion those who want to force others to live will do little to convince them of the righteousness of their argument if the best they can offer is Shipman or the slippery slope.

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      • PSJ says

        Not combatively intended, Harry, just a reminder there is another side to this story.

        20-something woman euthanazed over incurable PTSD
        https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/sex-abuse-victim-with-incurable-ptst-allowed-to-die-by-lethal-injection_uk_57344013e4b0f0f53e35bf43

        Guy euthanazed over alcohol addiction
        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/man-holland-netherlands-dutch-euthanised-alcohol-addiction-alcoholic-netherlands-a7446256.html

        “Murder by euthanasia- a warning from the Netherlands”
        https://www.spectator.com.au/2017/01/murder-euthanasia-warning-netherlands/

        “In Belgium and The Netherlands in the thousands of euthanasia deaths since their laws came into being in 2002 few cases have ever been referred by the review systems to justice for further scrutiny. In Belgium that number is one; one case only.

        Either the practice of euthanasia works perfectly well and doctors always comply with the law or any problems that do exist around compliance are not acted upon. With nearly 10,000 reported deaths in Belgium since 2002, I’m leaning heavily towards the second conclusion. No system is ever perfect. Besides, there have been plenty of examples over the years confirming that under-reporting remains a problem.”

        Strongly suggest you read this one to the end.

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        • Harry Stotle says

          You’ve directed me to an article by Paul Russell, Founder and Director of HOPE: preventing euthanasia and assisted suicide, so hardly an objective commentator.

          In any event an inconsistently law still does negate the fundamental principle i.e. opposition to forcing people to endure the final stages of conditions MND, locked in syndrome, metastatic cancer, etc despite them begging to end their lives.

          The answer is better framed and regulated laws rather than prolonging unnecessary suffering IMO.

          There is no reason not to learn from alleged failures in other systems to ensure that a process is in place satisfying all stakeholders in the UK.

          As an aside no country is resourced to provide comprehensive palliative care so whichever route you go down it is near impossible to guarantee that there will not be injured parties at the end of life.
          Presently “There are an estimated 92,000 people a year in England, 6100 people a year in Wales, 3000 people a year in Northern Ireland and 10,600 people a year in Scotland who would benefit from palliative care but are not currently receiving it.”
          http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/61550/1/equity_in_the_provision_of_paliative_care.pdf

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says

            Yes-the lack of sympathy for those dying in agony is remarkable. And ‘palliative care’, even if available (!!) does not ease suffering in many cases, and ends up as pseudo-euthanasia when sufficient opiates are administered to cause respiratory arrest.

          • You’ve directed me to an article by Paul Russell, Founder and Director of HOPE: preventing euthanasia and assisted suicide, so hardly an objective commentator.

            Am I reading you right, Harry, that you are saying that anybody passionate enough to take a stance on something cannot, by definition, be an objective commentator, and so therefore their opinions can be safely discarded?

            Like Gandhi on wearing homespun, Princess Di on banning land mines, or Nigella Lawson on eating joyfully? Or do you have it in for Paul Russell in particular?

            • Harry Stotle says

              I am not totally negating the opinion just highlighting the fact that Paul Russel’s understanding of the case may lack impartiality given his obvious agenda (i.e his self-confessed intention to reverse personal agency when it comes to end of life decision making).

              The Mods did exactly the same when I linked to a medical study suggesting the researchers were “covertly driven by the “right to kill” agenda.’

              Christ on a bike – ‘right to kill’, ‘Shipman’, ‘Gosport’ – it feels like I have stumbled onto a Daily Mail thread rather than the usual high quality Off-G output.

              Returning to the case highlighted by an anti-euthanasia activist it does raise questions that are well worth discussing.

              I am not especially knowledgeable about the Dutch system but I assume their thinking is that those with a clear advance directive should not be forced to live if they become one of the growing number of individuals with dementia who are being kept alive by doctors but might have declined medical intervention were it not for the cognitive devastation associated with Alzheimers, Lewy Body, and vascular dementia, etc.

              Medical decision making in such instances must rely heavily on the authority of the advance directive and any other information such as instances of an individual refusing the offer of medical assistance when cognitively intact.
              The alternative is forcing people to join the growing number of patients who are warehoused in depressing care homes as they pass through the inevitable stages of memory loss, personality change, incontinence and motor retardation.

            • Mishko says

              Come on now, what Nigella Lawson promotes is foodporn.
              And I might be berated for mentioning the following, but anyway: IMO psychedelic medication should be used BEFORE and in combination with assisted suicide.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Yes-I frequently consult the Spectator for honest, unbiased reportage free of ideological bigotry.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        You’d not need to spend much time with people dying of intractable and hideous disease, nor witness much ‘palliative’ care pseudo-euthanasia, to see the ‘slippery slope’, argument, so well-beloved, lets by clear, of religious bigots of the same ilk who would see abortion re-criminalised, happily, as paranoid bollocks. A system that protects the patients can easily be created, with judicial oversight, and any homicidal relatives or hospital cost-cutters kept at bay. In the absence of properly controlled and supervised euthanasia, on the other hand, increasing numbers of people will suffer needlessly and against their express wishes.

        • MoriartysLeftSock says

          Why do you need to sneer at the supposed limitations of those you disagree with?

          Do you consider yourself to be NOT a bigot because you’re not religious? Because that really doesn’t come over in anything you write, In fact I would say you are one of the most intransigent and extreme ideologues I have encountered while posting here.

          You couch what seems like a genuine hatred of humanity beneath a rather pseudo-seeming “morality” that is devoid either of compassion or sense.

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      • Jen says

        The issue I was raising in my comment is that Toynbee has always argued for a “right to die” law and is exploiting the recent Gosport scandal to do this.

        It seems to me that the issues exposed by the scandal – the culture of abuse that existed at the hospital which was caused in part by inadequate funding leading to inadequate staffing and poorly qualified medical staff making decisions on the run – were completely ignored by Toynbee. Instead the scandal becomes an opportunity for her to push her little agenda barrow right through the mess and turn public attention away from what the hospital at the centre of the scandal really needs.

        What Toynbee could have done is expose the problems the Gosport War Memorial Hospital was under, that led to the opiate abuse, and call for better funding, better training for staff and properly qualified people working in an environment where they feel they are under no pressure to perform to bureaucratic demands, and are able to care for patients properly.

        At the same time Toynbee could have recognised that the scandal could be used by the UK government to push for privatising the hospital and other general district hospitals under similar budgetary pressure. Another blow to the NHS.

        Instead Toynbee distracts and diverts attention away from what really needs to be done, all to glorify herself and offer unneeded and unnecessary opinion, and garner a few more clicks to The Fraudian website.

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  11. frank says

    Seen in the context of how the disabled are demonised and impoverished in the UK by the eugenic warriors of the tory party, there is a very slippery slope here.
    This would be used to kill the disabled, who they seem to despise.

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Yet more hysterical hyperbole. The UK is crap, I’ll grant, but it’s not Nazi Germany, yet. The Tories prefer keeping the disabled alive, so that they can treat them vilely, to get their misanthropic kicks.

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      • frank says

        Hysterical? Is your partner disabled. Mine is. You know nothing about this issue.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Your partner being disabled, for which you, naturally, both have my sympathy and best wishes, is irrelevant to voluntary euthanasia.

          • frank says

            Oh the great seer of all things. Your comment proves that you know nothing on this issue

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            • redrabbit says

              Is this your level of debate? Sneering and insulting. I have seen both my parents die agonized death, with medics unwilling to prescribe enough pain relieving medication because it might kill them. Like they weren’t dying anyway. People who think that shortening their lives is wrong in this circumstance are clearly happy to see people suffer and die in unbearable agony. Because ‘morals’ Or something.

  12. Baron says

    The issue of euthanasia resurfaces every time the NHS screams for more resources, which seems a continuous state of affairs for a health service that runs on the basis where the provision of any service and the cost of it are separated at the point of its delivery.

    The one aspect the piece and the postings don’t touch on is the pressure the slowly withering individual would be under not from any outside source e.g. the relatives, the medical professionals, but from within oneself, if he or she were cognitive enough to give consent for life to be terminated, one would assume he or she would also have the capacity to comprehend that one’s demise would end the burden of care, any care, domestic or that furnished by the NHS, that it would release financial resources that could be utilised for the younger generation in the family, or even something rather trivial like releasing living space.

    It may be paradoxical to say it, but one would be more inclined to support a euthanasia legislation for those physically totally infirm i.e. unable to walk, feed themselves, and also mentally fully switched off (if this can be ascertained without any doubt) than for those who still possessed the mental capacity to decide.

    Continuous and often unbearable pain seems to be the most common factor many decide to end it all. The Big Pharma hasn’t come up with a solution (as it did for other groups e.g. Viagra, PrEP), very likely because it’s predominantly the elderly who would benefit, and they cannot lobby for it themselves, have nobody willing and powerful enough to lobby on their behalf.

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      The medical-industrial-pharmacological complex makes massive profits from the last stages of life-even of those of great age. Completely pointless interventions, tests, medications etc are inflicted on individuals, often for the interests of relatives and the complex, rather than the patient. If patient-controlled euthanasia was introduced, all that lovely loot will go unharvested.

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    • James Scott says

      In my previous life as a politician I was lobbied by many elderly people who wanted the legal right to end their own life or to be assisted to do so providing it was truly voluntary. Furthermore a number of polls have shown that a strong majority polled were in favour of such laws.
      In my opinion the most important right of all is the right to live or to die. My life belongs to me and I know it is an easy act to take ones own life without state permission or even without a doctor overseeing the act. In regard to someone who is depressed making a decision to die, it should be noted under most euthanasia legislation having such mental illnesses would restrict that person from making a decision to be euthanised.

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      • Admin says

        In the case of the 80-yr old cited in these comments her mental illness prevented her from dissenting in her own death. She was heard clearly stating she wanted to live, but was forcibly euthanised because she had previously stated she would want to be “at a time of her own choosing.” The people responsible for holding down the old lady and killing her against her will were not charged with murder.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          So, in your moral universe, one case, and we do not know if the facts as reported are fair and accurate, justifies forcing tens of thousands, suffering greatly, who wish to be released from that pointless suffering, to continue to suffer, until ‘palliative care’, if available, causes their death from opiate overdose.

      • Baron says

        How easy it was when we believed it was God who granted us life, and only He had the right to take it away.

        What makes you think, James, that ‘your life belongs to you’, you had BA to do with the conception of it, the nine months of gestation, the few years after your birth when others had to look after you to help you to survive.

        • James Scott says

          Yes I did have parents Baron just as I have happily raised my own children and to the best of my knowledge that is without any assistance from some supernatural deity. They are no longer in a womb they are separate entities who do carry my DNA but as they are now adults they have taken charge of their own lives.
          It is my wish that they recognise that life is made meaningful by our relationships with other humans including those who are religious and that they respect and gain joy from living within the wonderful complexity of both human and non human life that makes up our biosphere. Thankfully they are now adult and independent without need of direction from mythical entities to live their lives and are prepared to be responsible for their own decisions and actions. I am sorry that you have handed over responsibility for your own life and feel that you must carry the yoke for some other entity when you could be free to choose your own pathway. Yes that means we have to take responsibility for our mistakes and so I do not have anyone to blame, but that is OK by me. You know while I am not a member of any cult I acknowledge your right to hand over your free will to whomever you wish whether they be imaginary or real. And if you choose to suffer at the end of your life to please your deity or one of his/her earthly representatives perhaps they could explain why that is necessary or even why that is even rational when there is for you a hereafter.
          One would expect that if Nirvana awaits you why would you suffer and delay death? Perhaps your faith is not so strong after all?

  13. Harry Stotle says

    “Where assisted dying is already legal, there is no current evidence for the claim that legalised PAS or euthanasia will have disproportionate impact on patients in vulnerable groups. Those who received physician‐assisted dying in the jurisdictions studied appeared to enjoy comparative social, economic, educational, professional and other privileges.”
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2652799/

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      • Harry Stotle says

        Its the conclusion of a study which found no evidence for the slippery slope argument.

        In the main, and at the risk of repeating myself those who avail themselves of euthanasia tend to be educated, and middle class – in other words they have done a bit of homework before reaching a conclusion that there might be better options than being made to suffer for days, weeks or months while a ghastly disease ravages body and soul,

        The Gosport and Shipman references have no place in this discussion.

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        • Admin says

          The fact they find “no evidence” of slippery slope only suggests the study is covertly driven by the “right to kill” agenda. It’s simply anti-real to suggest there wouldn’t be a slippery slope. All human laws are eventually abused, stretched and mis-used. This study would be much more plausible had it simply acknowledged this fact and suggested ways to manage that aspect. The claim there is no such danger is simply expedient political dressing.

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          • Mulga Mumblebrain says

            A despicable comment. The ‘right to kill’ assertion is simply hideous fear-mongering. You could just as easily contrive such an ‘argument’ to completely outlaw abortion, because a ‘slippery slope’ to God knows where can be imagined by some religious fanatic. This is getting a little reminiscent of the ‘arguments’ of Spiked Online and other such organs.

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            • Dom Currie says

              The right to kill is a perfectly reasonable way of describing it. Would you prefer ‘Time to go sleepy bye-byes’?
              It really offends me that so many of the pro-euthanasia crowd like to dress up the language of killing with terms like dignity. If dignity was such an important issue in medicine then why not outlaw childbirth, prostate exams and gynaecology?

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              • Harry Stotle says

                Dignity is at the heart of euthanasia, fear of pain although very important is probably second (and lets not forget that not all suffering can be palliated).

                In my minds eye the stereotypical supporter of euthanasia would be (although not exclusively)
                an atheist
                reasonably well educated
                reasonably solvent
                willing to acknowledge the full panoply of privations associated with some illnesses.
                regards quality rather than quantity of life as the most important condition of treatment.

                https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19249680

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                • PSJ says

                  I agree the problem is a lack of respect for individual choice, but to imagine this will be solved by allowing legalized killing seems confused to me.

                  Do we trust the same state that routinely lies to us and treats its citizens with contempt to use this added power responsibly or decently to allow people to exit with the dignity denied them everywhere else?

                  Also why respond to a moral question with a guesstimate biography of those who share your view? Is an opinion more or less plausible based on the demographic of those believing it?

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                  • Harry Stotle says

                    I think you misunderstand my intentions – the imaginary demographic was simply to illustrate how supporters of euthanasia are often successful, well educated people not easily given to being conned or easily influenced by the state.

                    An exemplar would be somebody like Ludovic Kennedy – this doesn’t make his opinion any more valid, its just that we can discount the possibility that it is not an opinion that has been arrived at without careful consideration.

                    I totally get that some people are anti-euthanasia but Shipman and Gosport are examples of rogue operators rather than what a functioning system might look like.

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                    • Paul X says

                      Shipman and Gosport happened because there is no agreement about End of Life procedures. The motivation for both was to ‘make people comfortable’ as they died – which seems fair enough, until you factor in the problem that the patients/victims aren’t told!!

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                • Dom Currie says

                  As a dye hard atheist, I’m usually the first to jump on the anti religion bandwagon but, in this case, it really is a red herring. There are plenty of religious people working in medicine who can rationally put forward an anti-euthanasia argument without quoting a sacred text. Its a tabloid style cheap-shot.
                  Ironically, most of the pro euthanasia arguments I hear are far closer to the stereotype of faith or spirituality. They tend to be sentimental, anti scientific, full of conspiracy about medicine as a whole and filled with complete certainty about the manner of a so-called dignified death.
                  I remember the Tony Nicklinson case well but I’m about to spend the afternoon with a member of my family who’s an MND sufferer with almost complete locked in syndrome, talks through and eye gaze, has 24 hour care. He has a son. He has a wife. He has bills. He wants to live. The real difference between the two patients is the nature of the support they were offered. Those that campaigned for Nicklinson’s right to die were applauded. Those that encouraged him to live were attacked by the press and labelled religious extremists.

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                  • Harry Stotle says

                    The obvious difference is that as the law stands one pathway is open to those who wish to live with a terminal, or severe degenerative illness while the other is closed because it is against the law to administer drugs with the express intention of ending life (which is quite different from prescribing with the intention of relieving suffering even if the dosage required to relieve pain unintentionally hastens death).

                    Nobody on this thread is suggesting patients should not avail themselves of full medical support if this is their wish but it is quite wrong to imply that you know Nicklinson’s mind better than he did (suggesting his choice was driven by inadequate support rather than the indignities of end-stage MND).

                    Look, its a difficult subject that often polarises opinion I was just disappointed that Shipman and Gosport were cited as examples of where humane euthanasia laws might lead to.

              • If I didn’t believe in full bodily autonomy, I actually would outlaw childbirth, prostate exams, and gynecology.

            • Baron says

              But the abortion legislation is an excellent example of the high risk of the ‘slippery slope’ phenomenon occurring on the euthanasia front, too, Mulga, the intention never was that an abortion would be another way of birth control, but it is, we abort over quarter million each year whilst thousands of couples who cannot have kids wait to adopt, and we’re told we have to have immigration because there aren’t enough of us, the new births are below replacement rate. Madness.

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              • Abortion is extremely seldom used as birth control. There are literally tens of thousands of kids waiting for years to be adopted in the USA, but most prospective couples wishing to adopt only want brand-new babies.

                So-called “pro-lifers” only care about the lives of fetuses until they are born. After that, they couldn’t care less about these lives. None of them have ever offered mothers who chose abortion to pay all medical bills, all the food, clothes, etc., rent for the mothers, college education, etc., until a baby reaches the age of 20+ and has graduated college if the mothers have agreed not to abort following “pro-lifers” pressures.

                Abortion is never an easy decision to make, it is seldom if ever made lightly.

                Also, “pro-lifers” do not take into consideration what kind of life a fetus who was not aborted will have. Suicide rates among adoptees are very high, the trauma of abandonment ruins most of adoptees’ lives. It is not as high at all among adoptees whose natural parents died and they were orphaned.

                “Pro-lifers” are the ones who eagerly and enthusiastically wait outside prisons when a death penalty is about to be carried out. “Pro-life” my foot! They also say that Pro-choice is “Pro-abortion”, which is absolutely wrong. There are a great many perfectly valid reason for a woman to choose an abortion.

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                • Hugh O'Neill says

                  Speaking as a “pro-Lifer”, I would agree with you that it is illogical if one is only pro-Life until birth, thereafter to not give a damn. I don’t know how true that stereotype is, but such logic is patently absurd. My interpretation of pro-Life makes for a very simple moral universe in which there can be no antipathy towards any other Human, only respect. Thus rape, violence, torture, abuse, bullying, exploitation of any kind detracts from the respect we all owe each other. Someone once said: “Love your neighbour as yourself” which pretty much says it all.

              • Mulga Mumblebrain says

                Thank-you for reinforcing my argument. The anti-euthanasia crew is, in large measure, the anti-abortion crew, with the same aims-to restrict individual autonomy in the interests of their own, often religious, prejudices.

                • Dom Currie says

                  Would it be fair for me to say, based on you and Harry’s comments, that the pro euthanasia crowd are mostly made up of angry, irrational bigots that, bereft of any serious scientifically based arguments, are left shouting deeply offensive and tactless things at seriously ill and disabled people, posting videos of people in wheelchairs and believe in the state sanctioned killing of children (with parental consent)?

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                  • Harry Stotle says

                    “Would it be fair for me to say, based on you and Harry’s comments, that the pro euthanasia crowd are mostly made up of angry, irrational bigots that, bereft of any serious scientifically based arguments, are left shouting deeply offensive and tactless things at seriously ill and disabled people, posting videos of people in wheelchairs and believe in the state sanctioned killing of children (with parental consent)?” – I posted the videos because in my opinion those that made them deserve to be heard. They are in wheelchairs because MND or locked-in syndrome rendered them unable to walk.

                    Public support for euthanasia is growing.
                    According to YOUGOV “Most people would consider assisted dying if they were suffering a painful terminal illness, and 7 in 10 support legalising it in those circumstances”
                    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/07/06/majority-public-would-consider-assisted-dying-some/

                    69%, think the law should be changed to make assisted dying for people with terminal illnesses, whatever their personal considerations. Just 13% of the public say the law should not be changed.

                  • Mulga Mumblebrain says

                    No-it would be ludicrously hysterical hyperbole. But at least consistent.

                • Hugh O'Neill says

                  Alas, Mulga, it appears I am a crew of one solitary pro-Life (anti: Abortion, violence, cruelty, War, torture, capital punishment, hatred, lies, Euthanasia, CIA etc.). Vierotchka’s argument that economics is a powerful driver applies just as well to children as to the Unborn i.e. poor children ought to be killed just as poor unborn babies. Whilst I am sure none of us wishes to be poor or disabled, few would prefer death if given a choice. But if aborted, they don’t even get the choice – so much for Pro-Choice! If someone deliberately kicks a pregnant woman with the intention of harming her baby, we consider that a crime. If a pregnant mother consumes drugs/alcohol, that too is considered criminal. So somewhere in this confusion, there is an acknowledgment that the child in the womb has value and deserves legal protection from both outside agencies and the mother. Poverty and unwanted pregnancy may be ‘evil’ but killing the unborn is surely the greater evil?
                  Although I am Catholic, my views owe nothing to any religious dogma, but are firmly based on the incontrovertible logic that Life can only begin from the moment of conception, and to argue otherwise is unscientific, immoral and deliberately prejudiced.

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                  • Mulga Mumblebrain says

                    Outlawing abortion, we know with ABSOLUTE certainty, will cause many deaths of real, live, women, from septic, ‘backyard’, abortions, or attempts to self-induce a miscarriage. What of those actual human beings-not zygotes or foetuses? Abortion is by very far the ‘lesser Evil’. Do you oppose artificial contraception, too, as your Church teaches?

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                    • Hugh O'Neill says

                      Very briefly: there may indeed be more deaths by illegal abortions, but that is a conscious decision made by a woman knowing the risks. All such deaths are a cause for great sorrow and concern, even though the number of deaths will be much smaller than the number of abortions currently. If poverty is the reason for choosing abortion, then the problem is the system, not the fault of the unborn.
                      It is also very notable that there is a very racist element in the US i.e. it is mainly poor black women who are pressured into abortion suggestive of a eugenic/racist agenda, masquerading as a victory for women – the hideous irony of which being that the majority of abortions in India are of female babies.

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                    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

                      Excellent candour, Hugh. Women dying of septic abortions made a conscious decision (ie poverty, family already too large, foetus deformed etc). Have you never heard of the concept of the ‘lesser Evil’, and, that besides, where do you get the authority to impose your morality upon others? From God?

            • I was on your side, in agreement with your stance on suicide rights, until you started with those petty jabs against religion. As a deeply religious person, I happen to support full bodily autonomy. Including the right to die. So please, stop using the topic of personal liberty as an outlet for your atheist bullshit. The real issue is the greedy pharmaceutical companies making money on people suffering.

        • Dom Currie says

          Its a bit of a straw man argument. The original article mentions vulnerable people and the study talks about vulnerable groups. I’ve no idea what a vulnerable group is but it sounds wholly unscientific. The study makes the false claim that the slippery slope debate is about vulnerable groups. It then goes on to describe the group as consisting of women, the elderly, the uninsured, the poor, ethnic minorities, the disabled and people with AIDS.
          My take on the slippery slope argument is that anyone from any kind of background can be pressured into opting for assisted death through family pressure, media scaremongering and unscientific anecdotal evidence from unreliable sources.
          Vulnerability has nothing to do with education or social standing.
          It should also be pointed out that in Oregon (mentioned in the study), you don’t have to be terminally ill to opt for assisted suicide. In fact, you can refuse treatment that would cure you in favour of death. Now that’s the product of a slippery slope.

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      • James Scott says

        What I make of your post Admin, is that it is not a statement but question without a subject or an answer.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      The article’s argument that patient-controlled euthanasia is the same as Shipman’s homicidal mania, is morally bizarre and, frankly, ludicrous.

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      • PSJ says

        How astonishing so many people fail to see the point! It isn’t that patient-controlled euthanasia is “the same as” homicidal mania, it’s that legalizing euthanasia would allow such people a legitimate avenue by which to pursue their interests. This is very well and concisely put in the article!

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        • Harry Stotle says

          Your argument seems to be that doctors can’t wait to start killing people but are presently thwarted by pesky paper work?

          And even if we accept your unlikely proposition euthanasia safe-guards mandate a second medical opinion that must be given in writing and after examination of the patient – this implies that a wanna be Shipman would need to seek out another wanna-be Shipman in order to go on a fresh rampage?

          This is all stuff and nonsense – the Shipman’s of this world are driven by inner demons that cannot be constrained by some sort of bureaucratic process.

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          • PSJ says

            Criminal law is designed to protect the majority from the ill-intentioned minority is it not? Murder is a crime, not because everyone wants to kill people, but because a few people do, and they need to be deterred.

            Legalizing euthanasia provides the ill-intentioned with a potential loophole – or weapon – not sure how this can be disputed.

            And, I don’t know about you, but as an American, I’m not sure I want to give my government any more potential power over the lives and deaths of its citizens! They already control us quite enough.

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        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Yes, but that ‘argument’ is TOTAL garbage. Euthanasia will NOT give serial killers like Shipman a ‘legitimate avenue’ to pursue their psychopathic drives. It is based on patient consent, review by a panel of doctors and psychologists, and is open and overt. NOTHING like Shipman’s actions.

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          • MoriartysLeftSock says

            That does not seem to be the case in Belgium or Holland, where euthanasia is legal. What they have is in fact exactly the kind of sloppy procedures that could have allowed Shipman to get away with it, and exactly the slippery slope” Polly Toynbee bizarrely claims is impossible.

            It began with terminally ill people, and now includes anyone deemed to have “unbearable suffering”. Soon it will include even healthy people over the age of 75. The law has already been used to justify non-voluntary euthanasia.

            It’s strange. You are also a vegan, opposed to killing animals for food. Presumably if the animals could volunteer for slaughter that would remove the moral objection for you?

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  14. Harry Stotle says

    “If the law that Polly is advocating here existed twenty years ago, Harold Shipman would never have broken any laws or seen the inside of jail cell.” – but I thought Shipman just went ’round murdering old people, rather than enabling informed, capacitated adults to make decisions about their health care?

    In parts of the world were assisted suicide is available it is most frequently taken up by educated, middle class patients who prefer not to suffer the horrific indignities of an irreversible terminal condition.

    Can I just check is it really the same Kit who wrote the sublime Dimblebore take-down because this is one of the most ill-informed articles I have read for some time.

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      • Harry Stotle says

        I’m sorry, if somebody can’t understand the difference between murder and informed choices about end of life decision making then they are dreadfully misinformed.

        To label this as ‘aggressive’ is feeble (and defensive) especially given the absence of any refutation of the substantive objection that has been raised.

        I say this as a huge admirer of Kit’s output – I had to pinch myself when I found myself thinking Toynbee’s article was much more astute than Off-Gs .

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        • Admin says

          Of course there is a difference between murder and informed choice! But you’ll agree the distinction is blurry? In any human situation it’s possible for other humans to influence a person’s decision. And when that decision is whether to live or die, obviously the degree of influence becomes a measure of whether this person is choosing to die or effectively being killed.

          It might be comforting to to think of this as a nice and clearly-defined matter of personal choice, but no human interaction is ever that clean and simple. The potential for pressure to be put on people by family members or by staff is so obvious it’s hard to see how anyone could fail to see it.

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          • Harry Stotle says

            What is easy to understand is why some people have a dread fear of being forced to endure the final degrading stages of an irreversible condition like cancer or motor neurone disease so as to avoid upsetting anyone else.

            Its an old joke amongst medics but when asked ‘why is the coffin lid nailed down’ they usually answer ‘to stop oncologists giving more chemo’.

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            • Admin says

              There seems little point in pretending the other side of the argument doesn’t exist! Of course people should not be left to die in pain – and there are procedures already in place to permit medical staff to medicate people through that experience. It’s even routine for “overdoses” to be administered at such a time and to be overlooked.

              May I suggest re-reading the article. You appear to be arguing against things that are either a) not there or b) perfectly well cover the objections you are raising.

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              • Harry Stotle says

                No they are not covered hence numerous court cases of desperately ill individuals going to court challenging the existing law
                https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43922888

                Intelligent men like Noel Conway do not want to be made to suffer for other people’s benefit – what part of this is hard to understand?

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                • Mulga Mumblebrain says

                  It’s indicative of a mindset of utter contempt for the personal autonomy of others, and complete (one would hope)lack of acquaintance with just how ghastly long, drawn-out, deaths can be.

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          • Mulga Mumblebrain says

            No!! The distinction is NOT ‘blurry’ in the least. One is a deliberate act by another, inflicted on a victim, and the other is a human individual making an informed decision about when their life should end, and how. Have you ever watched a person die of an intractably painful disease like mesothelioma, and the way in which they are euthanised by ‘palliative’ medicine by being given large amounts of morphine, heroin and and neuroleptic medications until they cease breathing?

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            • PSJ says

              I believe the admin means that the distinction is blurry for the observer, not that it’s morally blurry.

              If an elderly woman is being pressured by relatives or beneficiaries of her will or by doctors who want increased throughput, to end her life, how can this be measured?

              We all know people with very little independent thinking can testify to making decisions of their own free will. I’m interested in how you see legislation being able to detect this or prevent it?

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              • Mulga Mumblebrain says

                So you would have ten or a hundred other old women go on suffering needlessly, against their will, for the sake of one theoretical old woman ‘pressured’ by her family. That’s a quaint ‘moral’ position, I must say. Moreover the family do not decide if the old woman is making an informed and rational request-a panel of doctors and other medical staff would, and if the nurses or other staff observe family pressures on the patient, you can be sure that in the vast majority of cases they will report it. Such ‘family pressure’ arguments are a stock-in-trade of the pro-suffering crowd.

                • MoriartysLeftSock says

                  This is a false dichotomy.

                  1) The high standard of modern palliative care mean no one needs to suffer while dying. The fact this standard of care isn’t universally available is NOT an argument for euthanasia, it’s an argument for taking steps to increase access to this care.

                  2) When passing a law potential abuses of the law need to be weighed against the potential advantages.

                  (a)In the case of “assisted dying” the advantage is terminally ill people die sooner than they would otherwise do.

                  (b)The potential abuse is the nightmare scenarios described in the articles linked on this page., in which the law begins to “creep”, permitting greater and greater numbers of people to be killed in more and more troubling circumstances, terminating in people being legally murdered while held down by their loved ones.

                  This alone makes it pretty clear the potential abuses well outweigh the potential benefits. This is simply a fact that can’t be denied.

                  Pain free dying is a right and an essential one, but legalised killing is too dangerous a precedent, especially when other options for pain free death are available.

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                  • Mulga Mumblebrain says

                    You plainly have NO idea of that which you are pontificating about. ‘Modern’ palliative care, if available and competently administered, fails often to end pain and psychological suffering. With assisted dying patients die when they want to, not when the Pope or the medical-industrial complex or other busy-bodies say that they ought to. And your lurid fantasy of patients being put down, like aged dogs, while held down by their families, is the stuff of paranoid delusion.

                  • Ugh, you obviously don’t understand the finer details of biochemistry. For some individuals, only a cocktail of 4+ potent drugs will afford them any relief, and that very well could kill them anyway. I quit agreeing with Mulga Mumblebrain because it appears to be an atheist, but I believe the law should guarantee full bodily autonomy to either die with dignity OR defend oneself and their own. Neither you nor a panel of doctors should have the right to deny even a HEALTHY person their right to suicide.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        And your aggression in totally equating patient-controlled euthanasia with serial killing? What of that?

  15. Stuart Mathieson. says

    An article like this should not be presented without a full true name. The writers possibkr religious bias should not be concealed. Shipman I gather was not responding to patient’s wishes. A formal statutory arrangement would arguably make such unilateral action less likely.

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    • Admin says

      Maybe you’d also like to put Kit in the stocks for daring to hold an opinion a) not approved by the state and b) not approved by you?

      Your slightly threatening vigilanteism does you no credit.

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      • Harry Stotle says

        Of course Kit is entitled to an opinion (just like anybody else) especially when it comes to an emotive subject like euthanasia, or physician assisted suicide – the problem is conflating arguments with the deranged actions of murderous outliers.

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        • Admin says

          No, it’s saying that a law which legalises euthanasia would give such people a cover of legality! Shipman could well have gotten away with his deeds had assisted suicide been legal. He would have adapted his MO with this in mind.

          Are you really saying you can’t see a) how such a law would almost inevitably be abused and b) how it might be a phased introduction of non-voluntary euthanasia?

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          • Harry Stotle says

            No law regarding euthanasia gives a clinician authority to end life without informed consent – at the risk of stating the obvious Shipman did not undertake any such discussion before murdering relatively well patients.

            The Shipman reference is childish scare-mongering in what should be an adult discussion.

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          • Mulga Mumblebrain says

            That, I am afraid, is utter bollocks. No euthanasia legislation anywhere gives a ‘cover of legality’ to murder. Shipman would under no circumstances have been protected by any conceivable euthanasia legislation. He had no consent from his victims, properly granted and witnessed, and no euthanasia legislation that I know of allows patient-controlled end of life without approval by a number of doctors including psychologists.

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          • Shipman was not carrying out compassionate euthanasia.

            “While Shipman was convicted of 15 murders, the inquiry in July 2002 established that he had killed at least 215 people, and may have killed as many as 260, although the true number could be even higher. The inquiry took approximately 2,500 witness statements and analysed approximately 270,000 pages of evidence. In total the six reports ran to 5,000 pages and the investigation cost £21 million. In May 2001, it was announced that the inquiry would be investigating a total of 618 deaths between 1974 and 1998.”

            Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shipman_Inquiry

            No general practitioner ever has such high numbers of patients that were suffering to the point of inspiring a doctor to effect compassionate euthanazias. No, Shipman was a serial-killer and nothing else.

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            • Admin says

              Yes, quite, that’s the point of the article. He was a ruthless killer who would have been able to use voluntary euthanasia laws (had they existed) to his advantage.

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              • Harry Stotle says

                Euthanasia laws require a second, independent medical opinion.

                Are you seriously suggesting Shipman would have sidled up to another doctor at the local CCG before inviting him/her to participate in a killing spree?

                There are many reasons to be against euthanasia (some of which we have heard on this thread) but fear of another bearded pethidine addict should be low on the list.

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              • James Scott says

                How can you make that claim about legislation that has not been written or enacted.?

                • Harry Stotle says

                  Legislation has been written – Lord Falconer’s ‘Assisted Dying Bill’ seeks to legalise assisted suicide (but not euthanasia) for mentally
                  competent adults (18+) with less than six months to live subject to ‘safeguards’ under a two doctors’ signature model.
                  http://www.carenotkilling.org.uk/public/pdf/falconer-bill—overview,-arguments,-problems.pdf

                  “The Bill was debated and passed at Second Reading in the House of Lords in July 2014. Over 120 Peers took part in the almost 10-hour-long debate. Further debates took place in November 2014, when an amendment proposed by Lord Pannick added judicial oversight to the assisted dying process, a proposal that was agreed unanimously in the House of Lords. In January 2015 two opposition amendments to derail the Bill were defeated by large margins. Due to a lack of time with the impending General Election in May 2015, no further progress was made on the Bill.”
                  https://www.dignityindying.org.uk/assisted-dying/the-law/lord-falconers-assisted-dying-bill-2014/

                  Its a pity Off-G didn’t focus on this or recent Yougov polls instead of Shipman and Gosport.

          • James Scott says

            Admin your position could be true only if the laws around voluntary euthanasia were very slack with no oversight. The proposed voluntary euthanasia legislation I have seen in Australia would not legitimize Shipman’s activities.

  16. Hugh O'Neill says

    Excellent article, Kit. It appears that few can fully comprehend the moral implications of Laws of Unintended Consequences e.g. feminists fighting for abortion ‘rights’ when the majority of those aborted are female (if you take account of the Indian abortion industry). I consider that all Human Life is ‘sacrosanct’ (as in legally inviolate) but that belief stems purely from the logical response to the question: when does the process that we call Human Life actually begin? This conviction has nothing whatsoever to do with any religious alignment, and even if God has given up entirely on Humanity (understandably) that would not alter my conviction that all Life has value, and that those who are most vulnerable need most protection, be they young, old or disabled.

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      The logical corollary to the ‘argument’ equating patient-controlled euthanasia to serial killing-the outlawing of all abortion. Sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind.

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      • HughBONeill@xtra.co.nz says

        And which is the greater evil? Abortion, whether legal or illegal, is the deliberate taking of a Human Life, whose only crime was to be considered inconvenient. If murder is wrong – and life can only begin at conception – then logic alone suggests that abortion is wrong. Sow the wind [of legal abortion] and reap the whirlwind [of countless millions of abortions]. Respect for the right to life of all, regardless of age, sex, gender, race etc. If we observe that universal right to life, then there would be no more murders or wars. The right to live one’s life without fear of violence ought likewise to be the first step in ending Man’s inhumanity to Man. “I dream of things that never were, and ask “Why Not?”

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        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Thanks for clearing that up-the anti-euthanasia, pro prolonged suffering crew are often the same as the anti-abortion under any circumstances mob. But everyone who has taken any interest in these questions knows that.

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  17. Strange. I thought it was (allegedly) diamorphine (aka heroin) that was adminstered to these patients?

    Ergo, diamorphine is not morphine. So that is one black mark against you Kit, already. And I have a degree to prove I know these things.Do you? (Thought not).

    The rest is the usual MSM witch hunt material that I thought off guardian was against. Not when it suits, it seems.

    My late grandmother (well into her eighties) was given heroin (aka diamorphine) when she was very ill and in pain twenty years ago and in Sotland. So nothing to do with Gosport and it’s so-called scandal. And no she is not longer with us.

    Our family was mature enough to understand and accept the inevitable. My grandmother was elderly. She would not live long anyway, with or without hospital care.

    People die. Too many people are unwilling to accept this fact. We are not immortal. (At least not physically).

    In my opinion this is simply another sick media inspired witch hunt, with a few gullible families being roped in to cry foul.

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    • Admin says

      Morphine and diamorphine are both used routinely in terminal care. Diamorphine is a derivative of morphine.

      The rest of your comment stems from skim-reading (at best). You fail to understand what the article is even about.

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    • JudyJ says

      On the other hand, my elderly mother (90 at the time) went into a hospital in the North West of England over 4 years ago suffering from sepsis. Without boring everyone with all the details, she was given emergency treatment and overcame that infection within ten days but mysteriously continued to suffer from delirium and all that comes with it: hallucinations, aggression and general confusion. The doctors and nurses insisted it was “characteristic of dementia” (despite us telling them that she was fully compos mentis prior to going into hospital). After 8 weeks of poor nutrition and catheterisation by which time she had lost a third of her weight and was semi-comatose we insisted on a second opinion – the duty doctor established by the temporarily successful use of a morphine antidote that (in his words) “she”is being overdosed on morphine” and confirmed to us that the doses were daily and (“inexplicably”) being regularly increased in dosage although she wasn’t in pain or, as of course we knew, not suffering from a terminal illness. And he confirmed that the catheter was for the convenience of the nursing staff and could also have led to infections contributing to her delirium. He ordered the nurses to stop the morphine immediately and to remove the catheter. Interestingly, he happened to be a doctor who specialised in geriatrics and my mother was on a general ward. In his words he “wished she’d been admitted to his ward at the outset”. My mother left hospital five days later and is still with us. Our family maintained at the time that this could only have been part of a widespread hidden agenda to rid the NHS of ‘problem’ elderly patients. We haven’t to this day submitted a formal complaint for fear of unwanted intrusion in our lives.

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Here in Austfailure we do not allow heroin, so the dying are euthanised using morphine, fentanyl (pethidine went out of fashion because medical staff stole so much) and ketamine etc, plus neuroleptics to facilitate the patient ‘letting go’. It’s called ‘palliative care’, is drawn out and often does not lessen patient suffering, particularly with cancers, until it stops the patient breathing, and thereby euthanises them. The OffGuardiantistas have plainly, never worked with terminal patients, or witnessed friends or family dying in this fashion.

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  18. Betrayed planet says

    My mother died in 2014 from Alzheimer’s, a 13yr nightmare. In the end I was longing for her to be put out of her misery, purely from a humane perspective, she was a Pediatrician so initially on diagnosis fully aware of her sentence which she described in its early stages as being in a permanent fugue. I believe in such circumstances options should be available to people with such serious terminal illness. I am horrified however at the casualness with which euthanasia is now discussed, abhor Toynbee’s condescending superior know it all tone as is always the case with this delusional woman. As families go through our various traumas and life changing events, in a world where if there were some measure of compassion it would help to be able to trust the system not to purposely murder ones family member because they are no longer useful members of society, can no longer contribute to the money making machine, the government tax collector.
    I am sickened by our current paradigm, sickened by most of my fellow humans inability to see through the bullshit, sickened by the callousness of the Tory party who have no comprehension of what life is really about in our 75 odd yrs alive on this now dying planet, in many respects dying because of greed and utter disregard for all things living. But their day will come, May, Trump et al, they will die too and though I am normally a gentle person I do not wish them a good death.

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  19. Dom Currie says

    Great piece! I’ve been defending a family member’s right to live with MND on the Guardian for years. We’re right down the bottom of the slippery slope with Toynbee et al deliberately trying to scare people with terminal illness into suicide. A recent Guardian article labelled MND sufferers as ‘Zombies’. One can only assume they must think the same of children with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The sad fact is that many people contemplating the use of ‘Bi-Pap’ or, further down the line, tracheostomy are terrified because of the grotesque propaganda pushed by the Guardian, the BBC and others.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      If it is your relative’s choice to see MND through to the bitter end, that is absolutely not in question. But what if they, not you or anyone else, finally decide that enough is enough, and request a release from a dreadful disease? What would you do then? Support them in their request?

      • Dom Currie says

        This is the grey area that Kit mentioned. I think there already is a protocol for MND. Any patient can refuse to use a bi -pap. Don’t quote me on this but I think a team of nurses then sedate the patient as they die.
        The real issue here is the belief that morphine or barbiturates gives you a golden ticket to a quick dignified death. There’s evidence to suggest that it’s not that simple. Ask the inmates on death-row in the US.
        Can I throw one back at you? Would you openly and vocally support the right to die for children?

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        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Under certain circumstance-yes. It would need to be approved by the parents, the child and a panel of doctors, including psychologists. Children do suffer incurable, intractable diseases, with great suffering, before an inevitable end, too, you know. The alternative is to condemn them to pointless suffering, because they are children? That seems cruel to me. Such cases would be very rare, of course.

        • James Scott says

          Can I throw one back at you? Well I will anyway. Right to die legislation I have seen does not legitimize euthanizing minors even with their consent. Sometimes where there is no hope for recovery and where there is no indication of any mental activity life support machines are turned off with the approval of the child’s parents.

  20. Paul X says

    In many hospitals elderly people are invited to refuse further treatment with a view to them dying sooner rather than later. It’s all explained and signed off. The patient chooses to die. Unfortunately they don’t then give a pill (or morphine!) but wait for the person to die of starvation and thirst.

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    • Admin says

      That’s not my experience of how terminal cases are dealt with. Large doses of morphine are standard and a blind eye is turned to grey area “overdoses” at such times. Ask anyone who works in healthcare

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      • Paul X says

        It was a personal experience in St George’s, Tooting 5 years ago. It was a choice between myriad procedures or an agonised death. The patient was clear in wanting all procedures to stop. Drips and monitors came off and we waited 4 or 5 (?) days before he died. Maybe the hospitals these days find morphine cheaper and quicker to free up beds but I still think they ought to tell patients that is what they are doing – and give them the choice. I know from what I have seen of the end of life in some circumstances I’d say ‘Thank you very much’.

        • BigB says

          Paul X: sounds like you are talking from experience about the now discredited Liverpool Care Pathway? Unfortunately, not everyone got to sign off for it. Rumour has it, it is still being incentivised and carries on. UK Column News have been gathering the evidence, though they have yet to publish.

          • Paul X says

            Well this was in South London and the patient agreed to end all medications which inevitably led to death. The removal of the IV tubes was quite a significant moment. I think he’d first asked when the numerous problems he had would have meant a nightmare of serious operations. He discussed it with his family.

          • JudyJ says

            BigB, the experience we had with my mother, recounted above, was under the terms of the Liverpool Care Pathway. Before we reached the crisis point where the duty doctor publicly identified the maladministration of morphine, we’d had several meetings with nurses (not doctors interestingly – it appeared to be the nurses who were involved in determining the ongoing and future care of individual patients) and social workers and they were all very vocal and aggressive in telling us that under the LCP they were entitled to overrule the wishes of the family in determining treatment and care generally if “they [the health and social care staff] thought it was in the patient’s best interests”; the hospital was plastered with posters and leaflets about these powers. From our personal experience this meant they could play God if they were so inclined and for many of them the power had clearly gone to their heads.

            • BigB says

              JudyJ: this is the crux that Kit is highlighting. I personally think we should have the right to die: made in conjunction with qualified medical staff. What the hell have unqualified social workers got to do with it? Our rights are gradually being accrued by the state as the vetoing power: it has the final say as to where our best interests lie. This is not so much a “slippery slope” – as a heavily greased pole …the only way is down: very quickly. Particularly when financial incentives are introduced, as they were over the LCP. The temptation for abuse, euthanasia, and asset stripping to pay for care awaits?

              • JudyJ says

                BigB, you mention ‘asset stripping to pay for care’. My brother and I had told the assembled team of demi-Gods that we were more than willing to care for our mother at home and felt that, with her physical and mental requirements, she would be better off with us in her familiar surroundings rather than being in a short-lived, unstimulating and (medically induced) vegetative state in a care home. We had to express this tactfully as they were at the point of asserting their ‘power’ simply because they felt we were trying to be too controlling of the situation – it didn’t seem to make any difference to them that it was our mother we were discussing. When they established that the cost of care would probably be drawn fully from our mother’s pension and other assets they became even more insistent that we would be unable to provide the necessary care for her in her own home. Eventually, at our insistence, they brought a doctor in to discuss our mother’s care needs and he supported us and said he couldn’t see what harm could be caused by returning her back home under our care and reviewing the situation after a few weeks. Well four years on….. Ironic that one of the explanations put forward for pressures on health and social services is the reluctance of families to take responsibility for their loved ones. We were made to feel like pariahs for wanting to do just that.

                • Paul X says

                  My 74 year old sister was in hospital post chemo 2+ years ago. My niece received a message on her phone informing her that her mother would be transferred to a Care Home that very afternoon. It was good of the ‘much respected’ care Home to find her a place they said. My niece went to the hospital and had a physical stand off with nursing staff who were insisting she was too unwell to return home. In the end they called Security to eject my niece but the Guards themselves didn’t want to get involved as both parties were steaming. My niece won out and my Sister lived comfortably at home until her death 2 months ago.

                  • JudyJ says

                    Paul X – we are not alone in such experiences. I can guarantee your sister/my mother would have been dead within a month if they had gone into care homes. My concern is for those poor solitary people who have no caring or confident family able to stand up for them. I personally knew of four cases, during the past two years, of relatively able, active, healthy, alert elderly people who have gone into sheltered accommodation with doctors on hand, and within three months they’ve acquired mild infections, were given sedatives ‘to help them sleep’ and, very soon after, ‘died peacefully’. None had family who particularly cared about their fate – for financial and practical reasons – so consequently no questions were asked. From this and anecdotal evidence given to me during my lengthy daily dog walks by virtual strangers I am well aware that this happens all the time. Also, a neighbour in her early 70s suffering from dementia started having regular home visits from a district nurse to make sure she was ‘comfortable’ and her husband was coping and within a couple of weeks she had died ‘peacefully’ at home. I have extreme difficulty accepting that such deaths are natural and unpreventable, and not the result of some chronic institutionalised, self-righteous belief within the health service that elderly (and in some cases infirm) people are, and should be, dispensable for various reasons. It goes deeper and wider than individual sociopathic of psychopathic behaviour which is why, in my view, until such practices are fully investigated and replaced with a policy of care measures to enhance and prolong life whatever the age of the person concerned, it is extremely premature and dangerous territory to pursue formally the idea of legalised ‘end of life’ measures which I do not disagree with in principle. It is of note to me that over the past three or four years there have been reports in the newspapers – usually relegated to ‘a couple of paragraphs halfway down page seven’ – of suspicious deaths in several health authority areas countrywide and of alarming inexplicable increases in the numbers of elderly people dying in hospital. Each health authority incident is reported each time as if it were an exceptional one-off case. Give it a few months and there will be another ‘Gosport’ reported on. We rarely hear the results of any investigation but in my view it is an endemic feature throughout the NHS which is swept under the carpet for fear of the public reaction if the truth came out.

      • Harry Stotle says

        Large doses become necessary because of opiate tolerance.
        In other words a dose of morphine that would kill you on day 1 does not touch the pain once you have been taking opiates long enough.

        Titration of analgesia amongst a population of frail, dying patients who are in pain is a skilled art – in the terminal stages the imperative to relive suffering transcends the imperative to prolong life at any cost.

        Nobody is turning ‘a blind eye’ it is just a difficult and ethically demanding job.

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    • JA139 says

      I think you are confusing what this piece is about and ‘do not resuscitate’, ie if the patient goes into cardiac arrest or similar, not to do CPR etc.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      It is quite a common practise in Austfailure to dehydrate dying patients, as well as pumping huge amounts of opiates into them. It is considered ‘humane’, and no-one comes back to report on their experience of the practise. It hastens things nicely, always a consideration when hospices are so full, and ‘productivity’ needs to be raised. Profitable, too. And that is called ‘palliative care’.

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  21. Michelle says

    I’m currently pregnant and it is scary how difficult it is to refuse to consent to standard procedures. I have refused screening for Downs (because I believe aborting Downs babies is a form of eugenics). I have signed the form to say I understand the potential consequences. Despite this I have had to refuse screening two more times (once as it was about to happen). Similarly women are virtually forced to have unnecessary inductions & emergency c-sections despite recent evidence indicating that these procedures have significant health implications for the baby.

    If pregnant women aren’t able to refuse consent in the current system I very much doubt an elderly vulnerable old lady will feel able to refuse an “assisted suicide”.

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  22. Paul C says

    The state (through its unquestioning support and promotion of toxic pharmaceutical products) already kills and maims tens of thousands of people a year without much fuss being made of it. It also contributes to the maintenance of much unnecessary suffering by its refusal (so far) to make medicinal cannabis available to all who could benefit from it.

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    • Betrayed planet says

      Couldn’t agree with you more. Toxic pharmaceuticals are responsible for a huge amount of illness and death. I grew up the child of two doctors, I was lead to believe there was a pill and cure for every ill. I found out differently, I now refuse all medications unless it is life threatening. Big Pharma are like the mafia, only difference being they don’t use guns.

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      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        I remember seeing an AIDS physician from Uganda, who estimated that the death-toll of unnecessary deaths that resulted from US regime assaults on the generic drug industry in India, by the Clinton regime operating at the behest of BigPharma, that prevented Third World victims accessing anti-retroviral medications at affordable prices, was ten million. Makes the Nazis look like beginners.

  23. Paul X says

    The use of morphine has killed many over the years and not necessarily in rogue hospital wards. In 1994 my mother was in a Nursing Home in Kent. She had severe dementia and for some months when we visited wasn’t conscious – nor were the other elderly ladies in the long corridor one noticed. When we ran out of money to pay the fees we asked the Local Authority to take over but were aware it meant a loss for their business. Just 2-3 weeks later the ‘Matron’ phoned (the first time ever). She said she wanted to increase my mother’s morphine ‘because she is in so much pain’. This was strange as she had no known medical condition beyond dementia and had never complained of pain. We consented. A week or so later we had another call. The Home were concerned she might develop an addiction as they were ‘using so much’. They said they’d have to stop the treatment. Some days later my mother died. At the same time we paid the last private bill (£1500 a month + .40p for an orange juice on the day she died. It was the only time in a year there had been any additional expenditure). We didn’t complain although it was obvious what had happened. Since then I’ve read that sudden withdrawal of morphine to frail old people is very likely to result in death. The irony is that my mother had been a member of Exit, an early euthanasia organisation. She often said her idea of hell was to be kept alive “but daft”. She had a horror of that. The Nursing Home had inadvertently carried out her wishes.
    It does show how complex the issue can become. I think we do need a change in the law allowing people to choose when to die. The State shouldn’t be the final arbiter nor should it be left to private homes looking to criminally maximise their fees nor to ‘do-gooders’ like Shipman, however well intentioned to ‘make people comfortable’. Many people suffer tortures on death and it’s only human to want to cut out that final experience. I think it is a fundamental Right to choose when and how we die; after all it is our lives!

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        • Especially as it’s the cocktail of pain meds (colloquially classified as “morphine” that literally, stops the heart. What I described earlier, as doctor prescribed euthanasia.

    • If the government and the medical workers can’t be trusted, that leaves only the patients and their families to make that choice. As it should be.

  24. Incriminating good people for their actions. No, the right to die does not exist ‘informally ‘, and the right to die wouldn’t unleash Haroldshipmangeddon. This is like aDaily Mail article.

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    • JudyJ says

      “Incriminating good people for their actions…”. Hmm, bit of a generalisation. I’m sure some are ‘good people’ but it’s the others we have to worry about. My brother studied natural sciences at Cambridge in the 1970/80s but was put off specialising in medicine because of the unprofessional attitudes of his fellow students, ‘the cream of the crop’. He was intrigued to hear a significant number of them declare – in all seriousness – their reasons for studying medicine. A vocational desire to alleviate pain and suffering? A wish to carry out research to cure all ills? No… They would command good salaries and would meet and be able to socialise with pretty nurses! And many of those who went on to study human medicine switched to veterinary medicine during their course. Why? Because if they made a mistake and killed a patient no one would know and there wouldn’t be an investigation! Reassuring for the pet owners amongst us. Unfortunately, and by all means call me a cynic, we should not make the mistake of regarding the conscientious, skilled and professional doctors and vets who we see on ‘fly on the wall’ TV as representative of the professions as a whole. (IMHO) One of those 70/80s medical students has recently been the focus of attention for (seemingly) inappropriate professional behaviour in a sports context and is or has been under investigation by the GMC….I shall say no more.

    • Stuart Mathieson says

      Yes Daily Mail trolls writing on behalf of Big Pharma and the Hospice Industry.

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