Rae, Moral Choices: Euthanasia1


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Rae, Moral Choices: Euthanasia1

  1. 1. Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Rae, chapter 8Wednesday 21 September 2011
  2. 2. Webster’s dictionary definition for Euthanasia is “Act or method of causing death painlessly, so as to end suffering: advocated by some as a way to death with victims of incurable diseases.”Wednesday 21 September 2011
  3. 3. A few case studies http://www.rsrevision.com/Alevel/ethics/euthanasia/Euthanasia_Case_Studies.pdf http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/health/2001/euthanasia/default.stm http://www.scriptureunion.org.uk/Uploads/Documents/Euthanasia-Worksheet1.pdfWednesday 21 September 2011
  4. 4. What questions might you ask? Why did this person want to die? Were other alternatives available? How might their family and friends feel? What would you have done?Wednesday 21 September 2011
  5. 5. Jack Kevorkian earned the name Dr Death by photographing the eyes of dying patients. Later in his career (starting in 1987) he began to advertise his services as a physician offering death counselling. When terminally ill patients learned that he was helping people to die, more and more people came to him. Despite several failed court cases, Kevorkian helped over 130 people to die.Wednesday 21 September 2011
  6. 6. Kevorkian believed that helping people was not enough, and actually killed Thomas Youk, filmed himself doing so and showed the film on 60 Minutes. He left the studio in handcuffs, and, defending himself unsuccessfully in court, was sentenced to 10-25 years in prison. In 2006 Kevorkian became terminally ill with Hepatitis C and asked to be pardoned. He was released in 2007.Wednesday 21 September 2011
  7. 7. Dax Cowart was very badly burnt after a gas explosion engulfed his car. He said “I was burned so severely and in so much pain that I did not want to live even in the early moments following the explosion.” Dax repeatedly asked his doctors, family and friends to help him end his suffering, which lasted through 10 years of agonising treatment. Dax is blind and cannot use his hands, but is otherwise healthy and currently works as an attorney. He still believes it was wrong to deny his request for euthanasia.Wednesday 21 September 2011
  8. 8. In 1992, it was decided by the UK High Court that Doctors treating Hillsborough victim Tony Bland could disconnect feeding tubes keeping him alive. The president of the Family Division, Sir Stephen Brown, said there was no "reasonable possibility" that after three years Mr Bland would emerge from a coma known as a "persistent vegetative state" or PVS. Mr Blands parents, Allan and Barbara, supported the doctors court action and said they were "relieved" at the ruling. Tony Bland, 22, suffered severe brain damage when he and hundreds of other football supporters were crushed in an overcrowded stand at Hillsborough stadium in April 1989.Wednesday 21 September 2011
  9. 9. Ninety-five fans died in the disaster. In the High Court Mr Blands doctors at Airedale General Hospital, near Keighley in Yorkshire and other experts in the field said he could survive for up to five years but he would never recover. If food were withdrawn he would die within days. Sir Stephen ruled, for the first time in an English court, that artificial feeding through a tube is medical treatment and that to discontinue treatment would be in accordance with good medical practice. Tony died of dehydration 9 days after his feeding tube was removed.Wednesday 21 September 2011
  10. 10. In 1992 Annie Lindsell (42) was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and was worried her last days would be racked by pain. Her greatest fear was the prospect of suffocating or choking to death when breathing and swallowing became difficult. With only weeks to live, she asked the High Court to rule that if this happened, her doctor could intervene and administer diamorphine, without fear of prosecution, even if it might shorten her life. Note: motor neurone disease is a condition which destroys the nerves that enable people to control their movements while leaving their inte$ect and senses genera$y unaffected.Wednesday 21 September 2011
  11. 11. Annie Lindsell withdrew the case in October 1997 after she established that doctors could legally administer life-shortening drugs for the relief of mental as well as physical distress. She was assured that her doctor would not allow her to suffer unnecessarily and a treatment plan was agreed which followed best medical practice. Annie Lindsell died of motor neurone disease in December 1997Wednesday 21 September 2011
  12. 12. Mrs Mary Ormerod had suffered a series of strokes, and the only way she could be kept alive was to force feed her through a syringe. Mary Ormerods doctor and daughters left her to starve to death in a nursing home. They had taken a conscious decision to withhold a nutritional supplement called Fresubin from the 85-year-old after she ceased to communicate with the outside world. She weighed less than four stone when she died in August 1995Wednesday 21 September 2011
  13. 13. The GP who took the decision was suspended by the General Medical Council, the regulatory body for doctors, after nurses at the home complained about his actions. They had opposed his decision to withdraw treatment, and had secretly given food to Mrs Ormerod. Dr Ken Taylor, the GP involved was not suspended directly because of his treatment of Mrs Ormerod, but because he failed to listen to nurses and consult colleagues. In fact, he had done nothing legally wrong in starving Mrs Ormerod. This is because artificial nutrition and hydration is regarded as medical treatment.Wednesday 21 September 2011
  14. 14. Dianne Pretty suffered from motor neurone disease that left her paralysed from the neck down and facing a painful death which she wanted to avoid. Mrs Pretty was in need of 24-hour care and faced an unpleasant death. Unable to end her own life, she wanted her husband to help her die without being prosecuted. She said “I want to have a quick death without suffering, at home Stephen surrounded by my family.” She appealed Hawking suffers unsuccessfully to the UK courts, and from motor neurone disease the European Court of Human Rights, to allow her husband to help her to die.Wednesday 21 September 2011
  15. 15. Dianne Pretty’s court case to try to get permission for her husband to help her die failed, and she died without any assistance in May 2002.Wednesday 21 September 2011
  16. 16. Miss B was paralysed from the neck down following a ruptured blood vessel in her neck. Unable to breath unaided Miss B was placed on a ventilator. Miss B wanted the ventilator to be switched off so she could die. Doctors at the hospital refused to turn the ventilator off.Wednesday 21 September 2011
  17. 17. Miss B was allowed to have her ventilator switched off as it was considered to be medical treatment that she was allowed to turn down because she was considered to be of ‘sound mind’. Refusing to have treatment is considered a different issue to actively causing death.Wednesday 21 September 2011
  18. 18. Dignitas Wikipedia says: Dignitas is a Swiss assisted dying group that helps those with terminal illness and severe physical and mental illnesses to die assisted by qualified doctors and nurses. Additionally, they provide assisted suicide for people provided that they are of sound judgement and submit to an in-depth medical report prepared by a psychiatrist that establishes the patients condition, as required by Swiss courts.Wednesday 21 September 2011
  19. 19. A few months ago, cuddling up to her teenage children on the sofa, Jenny Kamer told her family she was going to get help from a Zurich based group called Dignitas to commit suicide. She had just returned from a long stay in hospital where doctors had had to put her into an artificial coma for two weeks to keep her alive. "Its very hard to tell your children you want to die," she said. "But I have been dying slowly from an intestinal disease for 10 years now and I cant do this anymore. I want to die. Now I have to just choose a date."Wednesday 21 September 2011
  20. 20. When she told her family that the was going to get help to die, her 16-year-old daughter couldnt wait to leave the room. She has blocked out her mothers decision and doesnt want to discuss it with her any further. Her 18-year-old son Steve surprised her. He said he would like to be there with her when she chose to die to hold her hand. "Its not my body, its her body," he shrugged. "Of course when I lie in my bed at night I get very sad thinking of her. But I want to let it be her decision. She is the one who is in pain."Wednesday 21 September 2011
  21. 21. Jenny paid £10 to join Dignitas and since she has been a member of the organisation, trained hospice staff from the group have paid her numerous visits to prepare her and her family for the moment shell choose to die. Dignitas is run by a lawyer, Ludwig Minelli, who says he set up the organisation because he believes that if someone is terminally ill, it is their human right to die when they choose. "To live with dignity, to die with dignity. That is our motto. What we are doing is a friendly act. The patient always makes the last act - swallowing the drug or opening a valve of a drip himself - so we have never had a problem with police."Wednesday 21 September 2011
  22. 22. Once the decision has been made, the patient travels to Zurich where he or she is taken to a Dignitas flat to administer the dose of barbiturates which will end his or her life. "What we are doing is a friendly act... we have never had a problem with police," said Mr Minelli. "The patient always makes the last act - swallowing the drug or opening a valve of a drip himself." The drug is supposed to induce a deep sleep within minutes of being taken, which will lead to a peaceful and painless death, Dignitas says.Wednesday 21 September 2011
  23. 23. Nurse Erica Lully, who prepares the doses, told the BBC News website how she deals with patients in the last few minutes of their life. "I bring [the drink] to the patient and once again ask, Is this your last day because this will be your last drink. Afterwards its over, you will sleep two to five minutes and afterwards you will die."Wednesday 21 September 2011
  24. 24. Although there is nothing concrete in the Swiss penal code which says that assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, the practice of helping a terminally ill patient to end his or her life is widely recognised as a humane act. Unless the person helping is proven to be acting out of self seeking motives, prosecution is extremely unlikely. Dignitas has made sure that, at each of the 109 deaths it has assisted at over the past few years, there were two witnesses and the local authorities are always informed. It has never fallen foul of the law.Wednesday 21 September 2011