Should Americans have the right to die?
Maybe you were born with a debilitating illness or perhaps you became terminally ill upon reaching middle age. Whatever the circumstances, you’ve made the decision that you do not want to be around any longer and want to legally end your life.
Should you be allowed to?
Should Americans have the right to die?
In Belgium, two 45-year old deaf twin brothers, were “euthanized” on December 14 last year at Brussels University Hospital.
It was all perfectly legal.
They were born deaf, were extremely close and when they discovered they were going blind, they made the decision to end their life.
There are rules. The patients have to be suffering, mentally sound, over 18 years of age and want to die. Their Doctor must consent as well.
Last year, more than 1,000 people opted to legally end their life in Belgium with the vast majority being terminally ill cancer patients.
To hear the doctor involved describe the death of the two brothers, it was very peaceful and it was what they wanted.
So should Americans have the right to die?
It’s a very heated debate.
Who can forget the “Doctor Death” Jack Kervokian?
He became a “euthanist advocate” in his later years and was jailed numerous times.
In 1995, the American Medical Association called him “a reckless instrument of death” who “poses a great threat to the public.”
He maintained, up until his death, that he was assisting others.
In the United States, if you have ever had an elderly family member on life support, you may have found that the patient’s wishes were not respected.
Take the case of my grandmother. She was 92 and lived alone up until time she was hospitalized after she fell in her apartment and could not get up. She was frail but in decent shape and her mind was 100% perfectly sharp and sound.
After her fall, she was taken to the hospital. Frightened at being in the emergency room left alone on a stretcher in an overcrowded New York hospital, she suffered a massive heart attack.
When I arrived, she was on life support and still 100% sharp, writing me notes about her wishes.
Unfortunately, there was no chance of her getting off of life support.
She kept reminding me and my mother, her daughter, of her wishes and we had all of the paperwork in order not to perform any heroic measures. She was firm in her resolve that she did not want any surgery.
Harried Doctors came and went and said, Let’s do this” or “Let’s do that”. Each time they proposed a procedure, I spoke with her, provided as much unbiased information as I could and asked her what she wanted to do.
Unless you have been in the situation, it is a very difficult position to be in.
She told me, via her perfectly legible hand-written notes, each and every time what she had been saying all along. She wanted to go in peace and did not want any surgeries.
And then, yet another Doctor came in.
Right in front of me, sat down with her, held her hand and told her that if she allowed him to perform a tracheotomy that she would be able to eat again eventually. She had kept writing notes that she wanted real food and this Doctor outright lied to her. I was absolutely outraged.
My grandmother, rest her soul, was from the era that a physician was “God-like” and she 100% believed him that she would be OK and consented to the procedure. When I diplomatically tried to present both sides, she wrote ‘Doctor said” a number of times.
I tried to talk to others in the hospital about this physician and got nowhere.
It was an absolute nightmare and immediately after the trach and a stomach procedure that we did not consent to, she declined. Rapidly.
She also picked up an infection in the hospital and to visit her, I had to be covered head to toe.
And then they were done with her. Just like that.
She was shuttled from the hospital to a specialized nursing home and back to hospital. Numerous times.
Mind you because of the life support and infection, it was difficult to find a specialized facility to take her.
She never did eat real food or ever write again.
Fortunately, at the last nursing facility, we, my mother and I were able to confer with an extremely sympathetic and caring, physician and explained all that happened over the past few weeks. She didn’t rush us and truly listened to all the details.
She assured my mother and I that she would make sure my grandmother was comfortable, since she was unconscious at this point, and that no heroic measures would be performed and to go home.
She was true to her word and stayed in touch with us over the next few days, returned call promptly and then called us within minutes after my Grandmother died to say she did die peacefully.
So should American’s have the right to die?
Should they be shuttled from facility to facility and, depending on their condition, placed in a group home that may not even regularly physically inspected?
You be the judge.