Shuffling Off This Mortal Coil

Emily Nash in the Mirror:

The musician, who had been blind for 15 years and was becoming increasingly deaf, realised his existence would be unbearable without his steadfast partner of over 50 years.

So Sir Edward, 85, and wife Joan, 74, decided to go to a Swiss assisted-suicide clinic where they could die “peacefully” together.

Son Caractacus, 41, and daughter Boudicca, 39, were with them. He said: “They drank a small quantity of clear liquid and then lay down on the beds next to each other. They wanted to be next to each other when they died. They held hands across the beds. Within a couple of minutes, they were asleep and they died within 10 minutes.”

In a statement, the brother and sister added: “After 54 happy years they decided to end their lives rather than continue to struggle with serious health problems.

Tom Sutcliffe in the Independent

Alexander Chancellor in the Guardian

Rod Dreher:

What true thing can possibly be said about a culture that exalts ordered, ritualized and hygienic self-murder — especially of the non-diseased — as an act of valorous liberty, except that such a culture is in terminal decline? We recoil in horror from Islamic suicide bombers, as we certainly ought, but at least those malicious ghouls are killing themselves, and, in the case of their Islamist death-cult societies, honoring self-murder, in the service of some higher ideal. What’s our excuse? What’s our higher ideal justifying this obscene defilement of humanity, of the human person, of human solidarity, and ultimately of the image of God within us all? Autonomy? Comfort? We begin by murdering God, we end by murdering ourselves.

John Derbyshire at Secular Right:

I have never been very clear about the religious objections to suicide and assisted suicide.   The only time I tackled a religious colleague about it he launched into a “slippery slope” argument.   Well, I suppose some slopes are slippery, and some aren’t. I can’t see this one as being particularly slippery.   In any case, slippery-slope is not a religious argument.   What is the religious argument?  Are there any secular ones, other than the slippery slope?

Erin Manning:

And if you are not a believer, if you see man as nothing more than an accumulation of carbon who is every moment gathering pain as he heads inexorably toward oblivion, then the lack of outcry at the news of someone’s act of euthanasia probably pleases you. I can understand that–but what I can’t understand are those who wish to reconcile euthanasia with faith, particularly Christian faith. So far, Christians who openly support physician assisted suicide or other forms of euthanasia remain in the minority, but there are some who advance the argument that euthanasia is compatible with Christianity–and there are others who have adopted a “personally opposed, but…” line of argument which promises to do as much to prevent euthanasia as that argument did to reduce abortion.

Andrew Stuttaford, here and here:

John, when it comes to something that is quite literally a matter of life and death, I think that the slippery slope argument has rather more force than is usually the case – any changes to the existing legislation would need to be drawn up very carefully indeed. The concern that people might be bullied into ‘choosing’ death is legitimate, as is the fear that medical staff might be compelled to assist in a procedure that they believe to be akin to murder.

That said, if we disregard the religious objections (and we should), the argument for change in at least one instance-that of the physically incapacitated individual who wishes to end it all but is unable to do so-appears to me to be irresistible. I’m not so worried about the able-bodied: they can almost always make their own arrangements, but the plight of, say, the paralyzed man who is desperate to die but has no realistic way of achieving that objective for himself, is truly hideous – and so are the laws that stand in his way. They should be changed.

UPDATE: A series of blog posts at Double X, including Nina Shen Rastogi, Kerry Howley, Hanna Rosin, Bonnie Goldstein and Amy Bloom

Samantha Henig at Slate

UPDATE #2: Chris Dierkes at The League

Will Wilson at PomoCon

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Filed under Euthanasia

One response to “Shuffling Off This Mortal Coil

  1. Pingback: What We’ve Built Today « Around The Sphere

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