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Euthanasia: Do we have a Right to Die?

October 25, 2005

As the Supreme Court decides the Constitutionality of Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act”, we bring a new issue for Debate Tuesday to THE INSIDE SCOOP.
What is the morality of euthanasia?
Are there circumstances where people should be allowed, without coercion, to end their own lives?
Guest: Medical Historian Ian Dowbiggin, Author of A Concise History of Euthanasia and Chair of the History Department at the University of Price Edward Island in Canada.

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  • Vicky October 30, 2005 10:30 am

    Did you ever read “Auschwitz – A Doctor’s Story” by Lucie Adelsberger?
    I read it 8-10 years ago and it came to mind when this topic came up so got it out and have been rereading it. The author worked as a private physician in Berlin before being deported to Auschwitz in 1943…she had several opportunities to emigrate but stayed with her mother, who was ill with a stroke that left her paralyzed…needing help with every thing she ate and drank.
    Dr. Adelsburg wrote…”I had the means at my disposal-one swallow, one injection-that would spare her such an end (she had previously described an incident of the Gestapo picking up and taking away a very ill neighbor of theirs)…I found comfort in the thought at first, but then when the roundups increased and the time came ever nearer, I began to waver. Finally, the mere thought of it drove me half mad. Was I, who spent her whole life struggling to save each and every human life, was I supposed to kill my mother, the person most dear to me in all the world? May a person who trusts in a higher power ever deliberately end a life, be it her own or that of another? I couldn’t do it.”
    In speaking of other like herself in this situation she wrote, “We all knew but one prayer: the death of our parents. No human court can ever call the guilty to account for the emotinal torment children suffered on behalf of their parents, a torture that transformed this most sacred bond into a death wish.”

  • Genghis Khan McSmith October 28, 2005 10:03 am

    Whydidn’tyouthinkit–you cross over into theocracy when you try to interpret death as everlasting peaceful sleep
    But the option of suicide for convicted killers, after appeals are exhausted, is an interesting wrinkle–it absolves you of your guilt–and gives Y.O.U release into another realm (which may or may not, but probably, still abides by laws of cause and effect)
    The economics of this issue is a matter of taste–perhaps “life” can be given a finite number to satisfy extrapolating bean counters–“80” seems excessive
    The simplicity of your explanation makes even more clear that vengeance is indeed God’s and not handled well in the minds of men
    And McBean never inferred that torture was an only option for Y.O.U.–but was AN option that is an historical legacy of mankind
    And, wait, the easy way? Seems Timothy McVeigh eluded all of your costly-to-the-State appeals and slipped away from his world of fears and tears–perhaps the heinous nature of his convicted crime affected the disposition of his case
    BTW–you are assigned the task of reforming BTK–can you make that simple for us?

  • WhodaThunkit October 27, 2005 5:07 pm

    BTW Frying someone is NO WAY TO try to REFORM them

  • WhodaThunkit October 27, 2005 5:05 pm

    ok i will simplify it for you
    I think it is EXTREMELY unhealty for ANY human mind to conjure up justifications to put an end to ANY OTHER living, breathing human. That goes for the accused as well as the inquisitor.
    A random person (we can use the imaginary initials of… let’s say, Y.O.U. for this example)
    Y.O.U. gets charged, and found guilty of multiple murders. Now the question is life in prison or a death sentence. I argue against the death sentence for several reasons. nobody can undo a wrongful death sentence.
    If Y.O.U. gets a death sentence, we ALL MUST AGREE that we would NOT want to use too much haste, in case Y.O.U. was wrongly convicted, so WE the PEOPLE pay our taxes to insure the system does not put Y.O.U. to death when Y.O.U. is not guilty. That is why Y.O.U. relies on a chance that the wrongful conviction may be overturned during appeal. This is obvioulsy VERY EXPENSIVE.
    The investigation costs for death-sentence cases were about 3 times greater than for non-death cases.
    The trial costs for death cases were about 16 times greater than for non-death cases ($508,000 for death case; $32,000 for non-death case).
    The appeal costs for death cases were 21 times greater.
    The costs of carrying out (i.e. incarceration and/or execution) a death sentence were about half the costs of carrying out a non-death sentence in a comparable case.
    Trials involving a death sentence averaged 34 days, including jury selection; non-death trials averaged about 9 days.
    Now I would rather my tax dollars go toward feeding Y.O.U. for 80 years.
    Y.O.U. can be sure that prison is NOT a torture chamber (torture chambers are NOT the only other option to handle Y.O.U. as McBean seems to imply (sorta sounds a bit blood-lusty if you ask me))
    NOW lets clarify the “easy way out”
    NOBODY would want to spend the entire rest of their life in prison regardless if they were convicted wrongly. Y.O.U. may concider suicide under those circumstances. OH but wait a suicidal would WANT the death penalty, even to the point of ASKING for it. Why should Y.O.U. be able to slip into everlasting peaceful sleep when Y.O.U. has no cancers or such things that MIGHT give cause for someone to commit suicide other than to simply escape punnishment for a crime.
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