The Right to Die

This is a really sad and emotional story about Kim Lute’s seriously ill step-father in the USA. Fred had spent three long years in hospital, fighting to keep his kidneys going, and when he finally died it had been his choice to stop life-saving measures like dialysis.

He could have ended his life more dramatically as Colorado is one of seven US states that has what is called a Death and Dignity Statute. This law gives terminally ill patients a right to end their incurable suffering. In the UK we do not have this possibility and we deem that active euthanasia is manslaughter or murder.

The Death and Dignity Statute in Colorado states that in all cases, patients must be terminally ill and have less than six months to live before an accredited doctor would administer a cocktail of drugs, hastening the patient’s death.

Kim Lute believes that, “Ultimately, the right to die, to exercise complete control over one’s physical self, is as fundamental a right as free speech and worshipping whatever God you choose. Just like a woman’s womb is hers alone, a terminally ill patients should have complete autonomy over their bodies. Facing the reality of one’s own mortality isn’t a task for the weakest among us.”

What do some religions think about euthanasia?

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Even though most Christians are against Euthanasia there are some Christian arguments which could be used in sympathy for it:

  • Christianity requires us to respect every human being
  • If we respect a person we should respect their decisions about the end of their life
  • We should accept their rational decisions to refuse burdensome and futile treatment
  • Perhaps we should accept their rational decision to refuse excessively burdensome treatment even if it may provide several weeks more of life

Baby Isaiah Haastrup Update

A high court judge has ruled that life-support treatment can be stopped for a brain damaged 11 month old boy who we’ve heard about previously on this blog.

In his ruling, Mr Justice MacDonald said: “Examining Isaiah’s best interests from a broad perspective I am satisfied that it is not in his best interests for life-sustaining medical treatment to be continued. That, with profound sadness, is my judgment.”

A spokeswoman for the King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation trust said the case had been an “extremely difficult time for Isaiah’s parents and all those involved in his care”.

She added: “The court’s decision to transfer Isaiah to palliative care is in his best interests and based on overwhelming expert evidence. Our priority now is to provide Isaiah with the medical care he needs, working closely with and supporting his parents.”

God should decide

This is a really sad news story about a little boy whose life hangs in the balance. Doctors have told a high court judge that they think it’s in the child’s best interest to end life support treatment whereas Isaiah’s parents want treatment to continue.

Isaiah Haastrup court case

This is a debate we see in the news time and time again, and it links to our learning about Religion and Life – who decides when life should end?

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Italian DJ travelled to Switzerland for the Right To Die

Mr Antoniani, an Italian DJ, was left blind and tetraplegic by car crash in 2014. The DJ dropped his phone while driving and smashed into the car in front of him as he tried to pick it up.  He appealed to Italy President Sergio Mattarella for the right to die, and shortly before his death, criticised the country for failing to pass laws allowing him to do so.

“Finally I am in Switzerland and, unfortunately, I got here on my own and not with the help of my country,” he said, in a message posted on social media shortly before his death. Euthanasia is illegal in Italy, a traditionally Catholic country, but the law upholds a patient’s right to refuse care.

Those people who support Mr Antoniani said he should have been allowed to die in Italy with dignity. The BBC also reported on how his story opened up much debate in Italy.

A sad story of a wife’s wish for her husband to be allowed to die

For 18 months PC Paul Briggs was in a minimally conscious state after a crash on his way to work.  PC Briggs, from Wirral, suffered a bleed on the brain and five fractures in his spine in the collision and was kept alive through medical intervention. His wife Lindsey Briggs told the Court of Protection in December her husband’s treatment should be stopped “given his previously expressed wishes” and he should be allowed to die. She was forced to go to court because the doctors treating him at the Walton Centre in Liverpool opposed the application to withdraw treatment.

Well in December a judge ruled in December that Gulf War veteran PC Briggs should go on to a palliative care regime at a hospice. This weekend he passed away, leaving the family devastated.

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A BBC video lasting just under 6 minutes explores some opposing views about euthanasia held by two Christians, whereas a BBC ethics page discusses this ethical dilemma and gives you the opportunity to see what different faiths think too.

Alcoholic Chose Euthanasia to End Life

The brother of 41 year old Marcel, an alcoholic in the Netherlands, has spoken to the BBC about how his brother chose to die and how the euthanasia laws in the Netherlands helped him do so. He was able to legally have someone end his life as part of the Dutch laws on Euthanasia which state it is lawful for people with “unbearable suffering” and no prospect of improvement.