The Last Word

Perspectives on suffering

"Someone who persistently, day after day, says, no thank you, I'd rather die, that kind of persistence would lend someone like me to think that this is much more the kind of case that we'd want to give that kind of autonomy [to choose to be assisted in a suicide]."

As for the decision by Final Exit Network's exit guides not to contact Jana's family ahead of time about her suicidal plans, Appel argues that "assuming the woman is otherwise competent, then it's a perfectly reasonable request not to tell the family. People ask their physicians all the time, 'Don't share this with my family. They'll think it's a terrible idea.'

"The reason it's an issue here is there are indications that the woman might not have been competent at all, and that probably would have called for some follow-up or a back out [by the exit guides]. This is why you don't want people taking the law into their own hands."

Pundit Wesley Smith on the Van Voorhis case: "It?s obvious that she needed mental help. It?s very sad."
courtesy of Wesley J. Smith
Pundit Wesley Smith on the Van Voorhis case: "It?s obvious that she needed mental help. It?s very sad."
Bioethicist Jacob Appel says the Van Voorhis case raises several cutting-edge issues.
courtesy of Jacob M. Appel
Bioethicist Jacob Appel says the Van Voorhis case raises several cutting-edge issues.

Appel says he's worried that the revelations published in "Death Wish" will tarnish the efforts of people like him, who strongly support the idea of physician-assisted suicide.

"I also think it's important to remember that the people who assist in suicides get no joy out it," he says. "They generally are well-intentioned and are doing it out of compassion, trying to help. Whatever the outcome of the [Van Voorhis] case is, I think we should temper justice with a lot of mercy."

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2 comments
Thomas O'Brien
Thomas O'Brien

I am astonished by the viewpoints written about the differentiation between psychic and physical pain. I am also astonished by the differentiation between "terminal" and "non-terminal" chronic illness. But what really agitates me is that society is attempting to regulate by law the "Right" to end existence.

I am a person who believes in personal responsibility...the so-called and oft- repeated "Republican Mantra". If someone chooses to end their existence...then who on God's green earth am I to tell them that they cannot do it? That is a PERSONAL CHOICE!!!

This choice harms no one but the person who chooses it...Right??? Oh...One can state that there are grieving survivors and I will agree to that fact. But let me clue you in...LIFE IS TERMINAL.

Nobody gets out of dying...You...I...Everyone breathing today...WILL DIE. There will still be grieving survivors...(Well...maybe not in my case. Forgive my Gallows Humorous Intent and give me some literary license.) The only difference is that the ones that choose to die know the time when they are going to die. Ones that choose to live...Well...They just don't know the time when they will die.

Do you suffer from pain? No...I am not writing of acute, temporary pain like the aftereffects of a root canal or...in a woman's case...childbirth (I do not know that because I am a man, but women have told me...). I am writing of chronic, irretractable pain. Do you suffer from that? The writer of the article supporting assisited suicide was writing of "unbearable" pain and then yet another viewpoint from Wesley Smith accused the movement for assisted suicide for attempting to "change the lexicon" when writing of the word "suicide". I wonder if Wesley Smith knows what the meaning of unbearable is? That is does he TRULY KNOW the meaning of UNBEARABLE? God forbid that he does or ever has to experience it. I would not wish that damnation on ANYONE living, not even my worst enemy because it is a living HELL.

It does not surprise me when I read comments and opinions from those who take a stand against assisted suicide because I know that they are not suffering UNBEARABLE pain. They haven't a clue about what it is and because of that, well...they are CLUELESS. It then follows that their opinions are WORTHLESS. Put them in my shoes for a day...a month...or maybe a few years and they may change their tune.

There is not one day that passes that I do not think about suicide...NO NOT ONE. I suffer from Tertiary Stage Lyme's Disease. Imagine a Charley Horse, a cramp in your thigh. Pretty painful, eh? Okay...Think about that pain, not just in your thigh, but in every single muscle in your body. More painful...right? Now think about having that pain 24 days, 7 days per week...for TWENTY FIVE YEARS without ending... Now add into that the bone grinding arthritis in every joint in your body. Oh...How I just love those spinal column muscle spasms that have my vertibrae grind together like children's building blocks...By the way...let that happen for TWENTY FIVE YEARS without ending.

Certainly there must be something that the doctors can do...right? My doctor told me to think of this disease "...like cancer.". I then asked her, "What?!? Without the benefit of death?!?"

Oh certainly there must be some medicines...right? Yeah...right. The truth is that there are the narcotics and NSAIDS (non steriodial anti inflamatory drugs) and antibiotics (yes the antibiotics kill some of the bacilli, which then release the neurotoxins that provide the pain, but most have hiding places in the brain and very little of the antibiotics pass through to the brain so they can hide there). The drugs provide only temporary relief at best. Adding to this there is the "criminalization" of using them. Yes, you are treated like a CRIMINAL for having these prescribed to you. You are a scapegoat for other people's behavior...for others drug abuser behavior.

Personally I do not want to use these drugs. One reason...I am treated like a criminal. I do not want to use these drugs...at all. I use the very minimum that I can. They fog my thinking. I want clarity of thought. Then, again, I do not want to experience the pain and suffering. What am I to do? My disease is INCURABLE. The pain is almost UNBEARABLE at this point. There is no prospect of getting better. The prognosis is poor. What am I to do?

Then some may say that I need to be cleansed from my sin. Oh yes...there are those out there whom believe that I must have commited some unpardonable sin to have been afflicted of this disease. I have had "ministers of God" tell me so. Those ministers remind me of Job's friends (Read the Book of Job in the Bible. Apparently these ministers haven't.) They tell me that God will heal me...if only I believe. God Almighty did not heal the Apostle Paul of affliction, his thorn in the side as he writes of it. Now do not get me wrong. I do believe in the miraculous healing power of God Almighty. But ONLY if it is in His will...NOT MINE. Perhaps He is testing the compassion of those whom are not afflicted...Maybe that is His purpose in this. I do not know. But I believe in Christ Jesus and know that He rose from the dead after being crucified so that I may have eternal life. I know that I crucified Him 2000 years ago...that is...my sin did. I also know that I am forgiven of that sin.

I know what I will do when the pain becomes UNBEARABLE. You know what I will do also. I know that I have life everlasting in an incorruptable body, free from disease.

So who are you to tell me anything, Wesley Smith? Who made you judge over my life and my death? I guess you are just a clueless writer and I just prayed and thanked God that you are.

 
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