Working to improve End of Life Care
THE DISTANT VOICES
10 COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT
1. What gives you the right to expect people to die in agony just because
you object to assisted suicide?
We don’t want or expect people to die in agony. We expect good, effective palliative care services. In England only 26% of nurses are trained in palliative care and only 4 out of 6 hospitals teach it. Dr. Richard Lamerton a palliative care expert and acolyte of Dame Cecily Saunders (the doctor who began the hospice movement and opened the first one; St Joseph’s) said, “In all my years of work I have never come across anyone who was dying who we could not help.” We believe in what Dame Cecily Saunders had as her core belief and that should form the basis of the hospice movement she
said, “You should live until you die.”
2. What about my right to die, I have a right to say when and how I will die?
No-one can stop someone killing themselves if this is sadly what they decide. Unfortunately allowing it to become legal won’t just affect that person’s life, they will leave behind a dangerous legacy that we believe will put other vulnerable people at risk. The crucial point is, a change in the law means that we have to say that there is a category of people that are seen by society and finally themselves as “better off dead.”
3. There will be safeguards so that we have control over what and who dies.
Unfortunately we are not good at safeguards. Take the Liverpool Care Pathway; a logarithm (that still exist in a different form), was put to use to decide who should die, people were killed without any permission, imagine what would have happened if it had been used for euthanasia. Our so called ‘safeguards’ didn’t protect the young girls in the northwest from being used
as sex slaves. In countries where euthanasia is legal the safeguards are soon expanded or changed……..take Belgium for example where they were changed to include CHILDREN OF ANY AGE the gap always widens. In Holland they have only
this year, drafted a new law so that those who, at any age and without illness, feel they have had ‘a completed life’ and who are not ill, can request euthanasia.
In the decade after Belgium legalized doctor-assisted death, the number of patients using it to end their lives rose nearly eight fold, according to records of the national euthanasia control committee. However the true number is almost
impossible to track.
4. People don’t want the indignity of being cared for, they would rather die. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to die?
The main problem with this is it becomes an ‘ought to’ or ‘you should’ sort of society whereby if people have this right then those who are disabled or different in other ways are seen as bucking the trend. Disabled people already have to fight to be treated fairly, to be respected and valued. By allowing people who are disabled by age or infirmity to choose to die, we send a huge message to society; a message that says, they are so worthless they can be put to death. We should be careful to remember what happened last time we rejected thousand/millions of people. We still have a very bad track record where ‘difference is concerned, anybody doubting that it’s still true should read Mencap’s DEATH BY INDIFFERENCE report. It is a fact that every year 1,200 disabled people (that we know about) die through, ignorance, lack of care, communication and a complete lack of value in their lives. People have said, “What’s that got to do with euthanasia.” Well the evidence is there surely, if being alive depends on your value to society and society clearly and often lets disabled people know that they don’t matter……..then it’s not a big step to using euthanasia to get rid of them, as attested by the above report. “We’re going to let him go,” is an oft heard refrain horrifyingly.
5. I’d rather die than go into care.
Two things, firstly in Holland and Switzerland you can be euthanised if you don’t want to go into care or indeed if you just don’t want to get old. Secondly if we are saying that social care is so bad that people would choose death instead, then surely we should be asking, given howexpensive it is (costing between £1,000 and £4000 per week). Why are we accepting such disgraceful standard? Why aren’t we insisting on better quality care as in other countries?
6. It’s safe in other countries, if it works there it could work here.
People only think this is true because they are not being given all the information or even the right information. Dignity in Dying keep the truth from the public because they think they will lead the way when it becomes legal………there’s money to be made out of future deaths by offering a service or being involved in something like MEDICARE.
CONSIDER THIS ABOUT OTHER COUNTRIES:
a) In Oregan doctors required by state law to fabricate death certificates
they are allowed/required to put ‘natural’ causes rather than suicide on
death certificates. This means that there is no real way to track just how
many people are put to death.
b) In Oregon we are told that people contemplating suicide are required to
seek out a psychological assessment if the doctor suspects depression or
mental illness. Last year only 3 out of 105 patients who died under the law
were referred for assessment.
c) In Holland it is now permissible to be euthanised for: alcoholism,
depression, anxiety, anorexia, having ‘a completed life’ (without an age
barrier) loneliness, fear of care homes, fear of old age, dementia,
Alzheimers and many, many, more conditions. We predict that the latter
two will be people, in the future most at risk or ‘Death before dementia’ as
one commentator relishing the idea called for.
d) In 2014 Belgium made it legal for a child of any age to request
euthanasia if they were ill. It is permissible without parental consent in
Holland after the age of 12.
e) There is a rising tide of interest on the part of psychiatrist in the
possibility of euthanasia for many conditions that they have failed to offer
good care for………..much cheaper than long hospital stays.
f) In Australia there has been a 400% increase in deaths in care homes, falls
choking and suicide were the main causes of preventable deaths.
7. Surely if doctors and nurses, who are after all the people who work with
those who would be wanting euthanasia, think it’s a good idea we should
respect their knowledge and trust them to do the right thing?
In the first place there are quite a few doctors who are really worried about how it would affect their relationship with patients. In countries where it’s legal many of these have been threatened with measures to make them comply or harassed into going along with it. The real question is can doctors, nurses and carers be trusted with such a huge responsibility. Sadly it seems that some of them can’t be trusted for example in just one year there were 109,000 complaints about carers in residential homes for the elderly and disabled that’s 300 per day. Can we then trust them with the power they will have, the LCP certainly didn’t give us reason to think we’ll be safe. Also amongst the many, many, caring nurses and doctors unfortunately there are more than a few Shipmans and Beverley Allits. Canada where euthanasia is legal, is also home to the recently jailed Elizabeth Wettlanfer, who killed 8 elderley people in her care and attempted to kill 4 others.
Why? Elizabeth said that she, “Didn’t know.” Or perhaps Donald Harvey dubbed the “angel of death” who was convicted of 37 murders but boasted in prison of more than 50 when he was 34. He saw himself as a “Mercy killer.” He was killed recently by another inmate.
As one eminent gastroenterologist said, “The problem is Doctors have access to many victims unlike a psychopath usually has.” We only have to briefly scan the internet to see the huge numbers of medics who commit terrible crimes. In 2012 there were 927 doctors with criminal convictions who were still in practise, they are just human after all. It’s sad, very sad, but true. Anyone who lost a relative to the Liverpool care Pathway will attest to the fact that bringing charges against medic is pretty near impossible since the hospitals have a phalanx of lawyers and managers to protect them from us. Which is a big problem
8. Aren’t you all just crazy fundamentalist who are just pushing their view onto other people.
This is the one, the only subject that affects each and every one of us. With such a huge number of people surely you’re going to find people of every colour, belief and persuasion involved. In our experience there are a multitude of people worried about this; they just want to be heard. It’s a ploy for the pro-euthanasia lobby to point to various groups as misguided or extremist. There is not, and has never been, one disability group that is pro-euthanasia. Dignity in Dying use and abuse disabled lives to promote
9. It’s still easier than a long protract death, it doesn’t involve pain or
Sadly this isn’t true. Having been given an anti-emetic; because the barbiturate given makes people throw up. The patient or candidate then takes the barbiturate dissolved in water this can take between 1 minute and 38 minutes to work. In around 7% of cases, the person suffers from vomiting or spasms and in 1 in every 10 cases there can be problems with the barbiturates. In Oregon it takes about an average of 25 minutes for a person to die…………the longest time was 4 days. If the person has been used to a cocktail of drugs say for addiction, depression or a physical illness this too can have an effect on the time taken to die. In the Netherlands they use thiopental which paralyses the individual this is followed by pancuronium which is used to kill the person. Following this drug the person suffocates to death; so not exactly a romantic goodbye. People may argue that this will be improved (and indeed the drug companies are racing to find the super death drug, there’s plenty of money to be made) but most doctors agree that killing someone is just not that easy. For example if a child is put to death it requires 20 times a normal dose of thiopentone.
10. People are being encourage to have Advance Directives now which
means that you can already request death if you become disabled (in an
accident or as a result of an illness) or have dementia or need full time care,
surely we have a right to decide our own fate?
Go ahead if you still want this option just remember that laws are never
made for just one person they are meant for everyone, remember ‘hard
cases make for bad laws.’ Your legacy to the rest of us could be:
A DEATH WORSE THAN FATE.
This is only a small part of the story, do yourself a favour and find out the
truth behind the hype. The bottom line is: it’s just too dangerous. Surely
history shows us that we flawed beings just can’t be trusted with this sort
of power. Unfortunately we can’t magic up a human proof get-out-of-death
card; life just isn’t like that.