Infant euthanasia....

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Infant euthanasia....

Postby GreatCarouser » Sun Nov 05, 2006 7:00 pm

Just in time for the post election quietus.....

Seems this is medical practice in Holland:British docs want society to debate euthanasia of critically ill infants

The article linked at the end of this one is rather less inflammatory in tone than its title.
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Postby Shapley » Sun Nov 05, 2006 8:17 pm

Well, I'm not in favour of euthanisia, but Im all for debate. Let it be discussed openly and freely.

The problem lies in the mischaracterisation of the debate, as apparenlty is already happening, as evidenced by the inflammatory title to the link you mentioned Doctors: Let us kill disabled babies. You can't trust the press to get it right. At one time the press may have been counted on to try to be objective (although I doubt it), but it is anything but these days.

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Postby dai bread » Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:14 pm

This subject surfaced here a few years ago, in connection with advances in caring for premature babies. There were comments pro & con from disabled people, i.e. those born with various defects, but not including Downs Syndrome, obviously, or those with various Encephalies.

I'm very thankful I never had to rear a disabled child. I know from comments made here & there by people who have had the job, that there can be rewards, and also sometimes not. One woman stood it for 17 years, then strangled her daughter, who had severe autism. Others soldier on. The life expectancy of these children is usually short, but I'm sure it doesn't seem so to some of the parents.

I don't think I'd like to see a hard & fast ruling by the State on the subject. There is a big range of disabilities and some parents can cope & some can't. IMO it's their call.

The comment made about prems was that the very early ones, 24 weeks or so, are almost always handicapped in some way; some worse than others, and the earlier the prem, the greater the chance of being handicapped.
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Postby analog » Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:48 pm

Comes to a question of who makes that hard decision - affected individuals or state. Either way, some mistakes will be made and there'll be tragedy.

IMHO these things just need to be decided by those who are there, because they're who will live with the consequences.
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Postby OperaTenor » Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:02 am

analog wrote:IMHO these things just need to be decided by those who are there, because they're who will live with the consequences.


And no one should second-question them.
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Postby bignaf » Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:57 am

what does the word Euthanasia mean?
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Postby Catmando » Mon Nov 06, 2006 7:56 am

bignaf wrote:what does the word Euthanasia mean?


The definition as per Dictionary.com

eu‧tha‧na‧sia  /ˌyuθəˈneɪʒə, -ʒiə, -ziə/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[yoo-thuh-ney-zhuh, -zhee-uh, -zee-uh] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

–noun 1. Also called mercy killing. the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, esp. a painful, disease or condition.

2. painless death.
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Postby barfle » Mon Nov 06, 2006 8:08 am

I have euthanized a few cats over the years as they have aged and their lives became little more than pain. I always tried to keep them from being in agony, but it's never an easy call, even with a pet.

My grandmother, who lived to be 102, once told me that she hoped God would just come and get her. Her mind was pretty sharp, but she realized her body was falling apart around it, and that tomorrow would probably be worse than today. She wasn't going to recover from old age, and she was tired of being dependent on others. She'd been very strong all her life, and old age was tough on her. When she had a stroke a couple of years ago, they just let her go.

My mother-in-law spent about a month in agony dying of cancer. Eventually, we all realized there was no chance of recovery, so they took her off the IV that was keeping her alive, and she died shortly after that. In neither case did anyone commit an act that would cause death, but they ceased doing things that would prolong a life not worth living.

In the case of humans, the decisions will be far more difficult than they were for me and my cats. But I don't believe the decision must always be "life, no matter what the cost in either finances or suffering by the patient."
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Postby Shapley » Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:17 am

And no one should second-question them.


I have to disagree with this sentiment. Anytime a person is deprived of human life, there needs to be some second-questions asked. Otherwise we run the risk of 'genetic cleansing', killing babies because they have a cleft pallet, or are missing a finger.

Constitutionally, no person can be deprived of life without due process. We let this slide in the case of abortion because the courts have ruled that 'personhood' does not begin until the baby exits the body. For the termination to meet the definition of euthanasia, the body in question has to have reached a state of personhood, and thus falls under the protection of the Constitution.

We expect doctors to heal, not to kill. If they do kill, then they should expect to be second-questioned on the reasoning behind it.

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Postby barfle » Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:48 am

I don't believe the decision must always be "life, no matter what the cost in either finances or suffering by the patient."
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Postby Haggis@wk » Mon Nov 06, 2006 11:57 am

” I don't believe the decision must always be "life, no matter what the cost in either finances or suffering by the patient."


Morally I agree. Where I become very nervous is when the government has the authority to decide those questions because then the argument is subtly but dramatically reversed. The question goes from “Do we let them die?” to “Do we let them live?”

Euthanasia


“a number of quantitative studies of the rate and major characteristics of these practices have been conducted in 1990, 1995 and 2001. These have demonstrated a disturbingly high incidence of euthanasia being carried out without the patient’s explicit request and an equally disturbing failure by medical professionals to report euthanasia cases to the proper regulatory authority.”
(Emphasis added)

Curiously, those who believe that the government can best decide who is worthy of living and fairly administer health care are most often those same people who hold the government in complete disdain.
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Postby audiogirl » Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:31 pm

I treated a little boy born at 22 weeks gestation. He is noticeably handicapped (physically and mentally) and very susceptible to disease. Other than that, his quality of life is pretty good.

Another patient I saw was brain damaged during birth. Considering the stress to the family, cost of care, and the lack of qualify of life, it may have been better if he had died. BUT he wasn't my child, so it's not for me to say. The child is still alive, from what I hear, and is neurologically about where he was at birth----he's alive, but that's about all. BTW, the MD who delivered this kid later surrendered his license.

These kinds of things should be left to the family, IMO.
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Postby barfle » Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:33 pm

Haggis@wk wrote:
” I don't believe the decision must always be "life, no matter what the cost in either finances or suffering by the patient."

Morally I agree. Where I become very nervous is when the government has the authority to decide those questions because then the argument is subtly but dramatically reversed. The question goes from “Do we let them die?” to “Do we let them live?”
.
.
.
Curiously, those who believe that the government can best decide who is worthy of living and fairly administer health care are most often those same people who hold the government in complete disdain.

I certainly don't feel the government should be making these decisions. But, THEY ALREADY ARE MAKING THOSE DECISIONS and they are "life, no matter what the cost in either finances or suffering to the patient."
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Postby Shapley » Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:55 pm

Again speaking from a Constitutional situation those matters have to be decided by due process - unless you want to redefine 'personhood'. Redefining 'personhood' would really create a sticky wicket, I'm afraid. How do we decide what minimum level of life quality would be needed to be a 'person'? Would my stepson meet the definition? My own view is that terminating his life, even at birth, would clearly be murder, yet others would disagree. Even some of those who might agree with me now would probably have disagreed twenty-six years ago.

Therein lies a dilemma: At what point after birth does euthanasia become murder - and at whose hand? Could Perinatal depression lead new mothers to make decisions on euthanasia they may later regret? What legal ramifications could a mother's regret have on the doctor who performed euthanasia with her clouded assent? Or do we support the 'no second guessing' concept and let the mother wallow in the guilt and anger that may arise from a poor decision.

There is much to debate about the issue. I for one favour life when presented with the choice, and I think most people would, too. Unfortunately, we can't ask newborns what their preference would be. Nor can we let economics be a deciding factor - many parents can't afford to raise their healthy kids, let alone a handicapped one. Will we wind up euthanizing the poor at greater rates than the wealthy? Lots of children grow up with a poor quality of life despite being born with good health. Some children born with poor health grow to accomplish great things. How do we decide who lives and who dies? How do we decide who decides who lives and who dies?

V/R
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Last edited by Shapley on Mon Nov 06, 2006 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby barfle » Mon Nov 06, 2006 2:04 pm

Clearly, there won't simply be a change in the law allowing universal infant euthanasia. That's not even close to reasonable.

And I don't claim anything approaching the wisdom to advise anyone on such a literally life-or-death decision.

It would seem as though it shouldn't be a quick decision, though. Counseling, learning about whatever condition is present, prognoses, lots of these types of information needs to be available to the decision makers (most likely the birth mother, and father if available).

I also favor life, but does "favor" mean "demand?" I don't think it needs to be that dogmatic. As I noted, it's not an easy decision, but it shouldn't be made by the government, as it is now.
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Postby OperaTenor » Mon Nov 06, 2006 2:51 pm

Haggis@wk wrote:Curiously, those who believe that the government can best decide who is worthy of living and fairly administer health care are most often those same people who hold the government in complete disdain.



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Postby Shapley » Mon Nov 06, 2006 3:00 pm

The decision to withhold life-saving treatment usually has to be made quickly and leaves little or no time for due process. However, withholding treatment (not nourishment!) is not the same as 'taking' a life, and thus does not meet the Constitutional requirement for due process. It also does not meet the definiton of euthanasia as I understand it.

The decision to physically take a life, however, should require due process, and rarely, if ever, needs to be made in such time that it prohibits it. I think if we are in a rush to terminate a life, there are probably other factors at work than compassion and proceedure.

I think that the determination is best left at the State level, or even lower if the State decrees it. This would allow a much quicker decision-making process while complying with the Constitutional mandate. States would be free to set the level of due process required, or prohibit the proceedure entirely. In my own state, I would seek to have the legislature prohibit euthanasia. But I think a proper reading of our Constitution mandates that the States be the ones to determine that.

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Postby jamiebk » Mon Nov 06, 2006 5:25 pm

Look guys...as a people, we can't even come to a common decision about the ethics of, or in some cases, legality of, abortion. This is one step (giant step, I think) beyond that. All I can say is that this would be a deeply personal and gut-wrenching decision and I pity whomever is in a situation in which they must choose. It should be left up to those involved.
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Postby barfle » Mon Nov 06, 2006 5:47 pm

jamie, I agree; Shap, I disagree.

I simply cannot concede the decision to end suffering (even though it means to end the life as well) to politicians, or particularly to a dogmatic "life, no matter what the cost in either finances or suffering to the patient."

Each case is different. They need individual decisions, made by the people closest to the case.
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Postby Shapley » Mon Nov 06, 2006 5:56 pm

Barfle,

How do you square that with the Constitutional provision that 'no person shall be deprived of life...without due process?" We're talking about the termination of life here, not allowing it to naturally expire. More often than not this will take place in a government-financed facility - a hospital that accepts government funding. Are you saying we have to leave the government out of this process? That somehow we are to designate these children as 'non persons' unworthy of protection? That we basically are to extend fetushood to some hours, days, or perhaps weeks after birth in cases of children who do not exit the womb in full health? I'm shocked! I can't see how we can allow a human life to be terminated without some due processs, some governmental oversight. I've never suggested that they have the right to determine who lives or dies, only the right to overrule the decision to kill. They should never have the right to order the termination of innocent life, but they should certainly have the right to preserve it.

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