04 June 2007

We are not alone

I picked up a flier on "Imposed Death" from Human Life Alliance the other day. There was a very brief snippet about the group Dignitas in Switzerland. It's like Whack-a-mole, just when you think the likes of "Dr." Kevorkian are fading into the background, more of these people pop up. In this case, an entire organization based in Zurich that helps people, even foreigners, perform assisted suicide. Ludwig Minelli, founder of Dignitas, says his group has been criticized because it will accept anyone who wants to commit suicide...if Minelli can find a Swiss doctor to write the lethal prescription of barbituates. The patient takes the drug at Dignitas' one-bedroom apartment in Zurich, in the company of family members, friends or a member of the Dignitas staff. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland as long as it is not done for profit or personal gain, although the patients do have to pay to cover the costs incurred by Dignitas. Ah, their charity only extends so far.

The article mentions that Dignitas recently opened a branch office in Hannover, Germany. From my understanding, it isn't helping with assisted suicides, but is there to pressure the government to change its laws regarding assisted suicide.

From an older USA Today article:
Dignitas will not offer its services in Germany but will work to change the law. Despite a national sense of trepidation and residual guilt from the exterminations of the Holocaust, 74% of Germans said they thought euthanasia for seriously ill patients should be legalized, according to a Forsa Institute survey published in October by Stern magazine. Only 20% opposed legalizing the practice; 6% were undecided.
Der Fuhrer would be so proud. Ya, das ist gut. Das ist sehr gut.

From the Assisted Suicide website:

The only four places that today openly and legally, authorize active assistance in dying of patients, are:

Oregon (since 1997, physician-assisted suicide only)
Switzerland (since 1941, physician and non-physician assisted suicide)
Belgium (since 2002, permits 'euthanasia' but does not define the method)
Netherlands (voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide lawful since April 2002, but permitted by the courts since 1984)

The website lists dozens of countries and their assisted suicide laws or more specifically, laws allowing assisted suicide, not prohibiting it. It is worth noting that Russia "has no tolerance of any form of assisted suicide, nor did it during the 60-year Soviet rule. The Russian legal system does not recognize the notion of 'mercy-killing'. Moreover, the 1993 law 'On Health Care of Russian Citizens' strictly prohibits the practice of euthanasia." Only rampant abortion is allowed there.

I was working in Oregon just before they passed the law allowing assisted suicide, when it was still being debated. It was so unbelievable to me I felt like I was in a dream. Naively, I never believed the law would pass. May God have mercy on us.

I also know some people going to Switzerland this month. I hope they make it back alive. My brother and his family live in Geneva...I hope they don't get a cold or something and have to go to the doctor...hate to think what liberties doctors may take when they have been ordained God.

"It's very difficult to avoid this debate. People are feeling: 'Who is the master of my life? It's not God. It's not the state. It's not the physician. I am the master of my life. And I'm the one to decide if I have to suffer or not'."
Jacqueline Herremans, president of the Association for the Right to Die with Dignity in Brussels.


Sanctus Belle said...

Very quickly the "right to die" becomes the "duty to die" The elderly know the option of assisted suicide is there, they can't work, they are infirm, their life savings eroding...pressure can be self imposed, spoken or unspoken from family. Its another trick of legion upon humankind we must resist. Thank you for this will written post.

swissmiss said...

An interesting selling point that I found of the right-to-die movement, is that they argue that it should be a right for everyone to be able to choose this option. They claim that only a small number of people who "actively" consider assisted-suicide finally go through with it, but it's the peace of mind they get by having it as an option that makes the decision easier. Blah, blah, blah. Being around numerous people who have passed away recently, even those who have signed the DNR cards and have indicated they don't want to live with a machine (not even talking about a terminal illness or PVS), have changed their minds when death is staring them in the face. I think the acute clarity and appreciation of life at this moment is Grace from God, not peace-of-mind-bunk that the assisted suicide folks try to sell you.

Sanctus Belle said...

You are right on about some folks having a change of heart when death approaches. They change thier minds and ask for more treatment and so forth. As a nurse I've seen this a handful of time, but not often. These wishes were honored without reproach in every instance. This however may be changing with hospitals litigating over "the right to refuse futile treatment." Very scarey stuff.