By now you have heard that Brittany Maynard has taken her own life rather than suffer any more, a choice I wholly support, and there has been a lot of really stupid god-bothering critique. This comment at Hot Air, however, is my absolute favorite:
My personal belief is that people who commit suicide continue to exist as spirits after their temporal death, and will have a one-on-one interview with Christ; I think those who made bad choices but had no evil intent will have the chance to repent, and can be forgiven.
I think it is the same for those who do not believe there is any God who will judge their actions: some of them will choose wisely and do much good in the world, and some will not, but the judgment of God will be suited to their intent and degree of knowledge.
Those who do believe that God exists, and that His will is contrary to theirs, deliberately twist the perception of their evil choices so that they appear “good”, which is tantamount to a declaration that they do not believe they have done anything wrong that needs forgiveness, and thus they deny the Atonement of Christ and reject His saving grace; that is what is meant by blaspheming the Holy Ghost, who is the Testifier to our consciences of God’s existence and His will.
(This twisting is extreme in the case of IS and Boko Haram and their ilk, but also is done by abortion-sponsoring “Christian” legislators and politicians.)
The commission of the “unforgivable sin” takes sustained and deliberate effort to commit.
“My own personal belief…” Translation- we’re all just making shit up, so here is my entry.
Here’s my personal belief, which, oddly enough, coincides with Brittany Maynard’s own statements (I find it useful to take people at their word when I have no reason not to)- she was dying of a horrible, debilitating, painful disease, withering away and going through sheer hell, so as is her right, she chose to stop the suffering. That’s pretty straight forward. Why do we need to make up all the other gobbledygook about sinners and job interviews with Jeebus?
Why can’t these people just mind their own damned business and shut up?
My friend who just died of brain cancer took a cab to the local gin store last year. She was going to buy a gun to end it but the folks at the store realized things were not right and called her family. I know what they did was right but I wish she had and easier way out than what she ended up with.
A significant part of organized religion is power and control, unfortunately. Agency is to be resisted: abortion, labor unions, heck even voting are suspect as they are exercises of agency. Ending your own suffering early suggests that people have a wide range of options and the free will to carry them out. Power and control does not like that message one teeny tiny bit.
Why do they do this? cf. scorpion and the frog.
I do not know, but they are insufferable. For 99% of them, the expression about carping about the mote in their neighbor’s eye while missing the plank in their own should be tattooed on their foreheads.
I mean, if I chose to believe there’s an afterlife, I’d vote for reincarnation, because it is reassuring to believe that you’d get another swing at life. Do I really, really believe it? Would I advocate for it & tell others that they’re damned if they don’t believe it? No and no.
The above said, what I don’t get is why rank-and-file religionists spout the party line so easily. I suppose letting other people run your life for you is stultifying, and admitting that other people are more able to exercise their own free will would piss a guy off once in a while.
“Judge not lest ye be judged” must be too hard to comprehend for these people.
Also, first stone throwing is condemned in there somewhere too.
Here is my personal belief: When you die shit ends for you. There is no meeting up with your forefathers or family or Jesus, Buddha, Vishnu or any other damned make believe entity.
There is every bit as much support in the bible for my bullshit ideas as there is for the bullshit spewed above or by any number of bullshit artists wearing a backwards collar. If that really is the inerrant word of God Almighty then when you die its over – you rot in the ground until the return of the Christ at which time you will be judged by some actually undefined standard (there is plenty of competing crap in there so assuming IWoG take your pick) & if you guessed right your spirit is reborn ruled by the 144 (although later bullshit artists tried to make it 144,000) princes of God in Paradise. This earth is heated by 7 suns. If you guessed wrong you are cast into a pit of burning sulfur which is cooler than earth heated by 7 suns.
Yahweh of the Old Testament was a nasty, murderous, petty psychopath who reflected each and every one of the tribal prejudices of semi-literate Bronze Age goatherds. Were It a human being today, we’d strap It into a straightjacket and medicate It with a thorazine drip.
Yahweh of the Old Testament is the basis for Judaism, the State Religion of the modern apartheid state of Israel.
A reformed, gentler form of Judaism was the goal of Yeshua of Nazareth, and he is attributed a highly goofy and unlikely status in order to establish an authority to do that; he failed, but not before people started a set of lies and propaganda. Later, a number of fanciful tales sprung up about saints, martyrs and repression, very little of which actually existed, and particularly to the degree claimed. Ultimately, a foolish Caesar decided to make Christianity the state religion of Rome, and as a result, the Empire failed.
These people are about to win on Tuesday…
I think if faced with the same circumstances as Brittany, I would consider a move to Oregon like she did.
I think she was a brave woman. We can all hope to depart on our own terms.
Because on some level they believe we should all go back to “I owe my soul to the company store” which means we have no right to make any choices for ourselves. Religion truly is often used as an opiae for the masses.
@RaflW: Some people don’t want to make decisions. They want someone or an institution to make the decisions for them. They don’t like uncertainty and it makes them anxious.
The comments on this thread don’t resemble the church I attend in the slightest. But I’m used to that, I guess.
It’s all just a bunch of value judgments. While I am an atheist, I do think there are some things that are definitely evil, but the list is pretty short. Most of the culture war is just about the ick factor or who’s skirt is too short.
People should be able to die with dignity. People should be able to terminate their pregnancies – even better, they should be educated and have access to comprehensive family planning. We should take care of the elderly and infirm of our society. Some amount of basic healthcare should be available to everyone. Ahh, standard liberal feelings here.
As I’ve mentioned before, my wife is going through treatment for Adult Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She was positive for the Philadelphia chromosome so she had to go the route of blood stem cell transplant (previously bone marrow transplant) immediately after the induction phase. She’s 46 and has an okay chance to make it to 50 years old and maybe a chance to make it over 60. It’s easier (aka less depressing) to not pay much attention to the odds. If she relapses, a second round of induction chemo probably will only add a few months to her life. Why go through 4 months of chemo hell to survive another 1 to 12 months? I wouldn’t want her to go, but I’d support her decision. When she was in a lot of pain in February through April of this year, it was very tough to watch her suffer through the treatments.
Compassion is knowing when to let those suffering decide for themselves when to end the pain.
Amen! I don’t get why they care whether gay people should be allowed to get married, why women they have never met should be allowed to have an abortion or people they have never met should be allowed to die.
Yet, these are the hypocrites that get away with claiming they are the ones for smaller government.
Our neighbor died a horrible death of a terrible form of alzheimer’s. She was aware at the beginning what would happen to her and once said she would like to have a gun….
Instead she became more and more debilitated. Her husband took care of her at home with the help of home care nurses until one night she just went to sleep and didn’t wake up, but I DO NOT WANT to have to die like that.
This young woman was incredibley brave, in my opinion. My condolences to her family.
Yahweh of the Old Testament was a nasty, murderous, petty psychopath who reflected each and every one of the tribal prejudices of semi-literate Bronze Age goatherds. Were It a human being today, It’d be running for Congress as a Republican.
People make up gobbledygook about an afterlife because it eases their existential terror. Me? Be obliterated? ME? That’s too horrible even to contemplate. “Why, it wouldn’t be fair!”* No, I’ll exist forever in a heavenly bliss denied to just about everybody else because, after all, few people are as wonderful as I am.
* James Branch Cabell, “Jurgen” (1919)
@gogol’s wife: I think that is the whole point. Each person commenting is expressing their individual beliefs, which may or may not be based on a religious belief. That is as it should be, since no one has the right to tell another how or when to end his or her own life. Individuals should not be constrained in this area by someone else’s religious opinions.
I’m pretty sure that the Bible says that we all stay good and dead until Judgment Day. Not my holy book, but that’s at least pretty straightforward, doctrinally speaking. I don’t know where the clown being quoted is getting all his stuff.
Because believing in an afterlife with perfect justice lowers the pressure to mete out halfway competent justice in this life.
My personal belief – Means I can do whatever I want and still get a pat on the back and a nice house in Heaven.
But people are constantly telling me what my beliefs are. And they are wrong.
Grumpy Code Monkey
Reasonable, thoughtful Christians who have realistic views of their faith in the context of the larger world, who can respect the faith (or lack of same) of others, even if they don’t agree with it? Christians who don’t feel the need to lecture or hector others about their personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
Crazy talk. Why, next you’ll be telling me there are brown people who aren’t illegal terrorist anchor babies.
There’s a reason I call myself a little-a atheist.
I do know a disproportionate number of Christians like the one who left the comment at Hot Air, though. We don’t talk religion much.
John expressed my thoughts exactly. I thought she was brave, though.
Did she cast her last VOTE before going?
Shorter Hot Air Asshole: “I like to believe that after this lady dies, Jesus will torture her until she admits that I was right about everything. Because I’m a good person.”
It’s a terribly sad story that somebody as young and full of life as this woman was faced with such a horrible end. Her bravery and maturity are the only points of light I find here, but they are both awesome.
Best wishes to you both. It’s a tough time. I don’t think anybody has the right to make choices for someone else.
While taking care of my mother-in-law years ago, I discovered a gun. She had no illusions about being kept alive while suffering. The only thing I asked of her was to put the dog into a kennel with my name as a contact. Several of my exes relatives were dismayed about my attitude. She did die years later after a stroke with a no feeding clause in her will. The dog died of age related issues.
@Grumpy Code Monkey:
The thing is, organized churches do a lot of good. People getting together each week to talk and think about how to live a better life, and then using their organization to help people in their community — it’s not a bad thing. (We do not talk about an afterlife much, and when we do, our minister admits she doesn’t have a clue. We talk about how one lives in this world given the beliefs we profess.) But our kind of church is dying, while the kind you hate is growing. Why is that? I think it’s at least partly because all the good, reasonable people have heard that Christianity is this monstrous thing so they won’t go near it. They get all the publicity.
Howard Beale IV
Leo Buscaglia has a quite different take on death-not necessarily talking about assisted suicide here-one of his PBS specials back in the 80s, he said: “When we die and we go to heaven, you won’t be asked, why didn’t you become the messiah? why didn’t you fine the cure for such-and-and the such, the only question you will be asked at that precious moment is-why didn’t you become you?”
@gogol’s wife: Likewise.
@Calouste: Heh. Well played!
Regarding this depressing topic in general, I don’t begrudge the Hot Airheads the opportunity to discuss their views of the afterlife and pontificate on the Internet. I do resent it when they try to give their loopy theories force of law.
@PurpleGirl: Very true.
I always wish people would realize when the religion isn’t holding up their end, though. They make promises about what is supposed to happen, then make excuses when it doesn’t.
I support Ms. Murphy. I think she made a very sensible, and life-affirming, choice.
How many people wish they could have this kind of option? Don’t we all want to be able to make these decisions for ourselves?
If so, we should think for ourselves, too.
Tree With Water
You’re wrong, Cole. Just think about that subway ghost that once schooled Patrick Swayze. He couldn’t face up to his suicide, and so Jeebus has him ride the subway day after day.
“My personal belief is that people who commit suicide continue to exist as spirits after their temporal death…….”
And my personal belief is you are delusional nut case.
Now just shut the fuck up about this poor woman and the suffering her and her family have endured. You are making it worse for her family. Worse. Not better. Far worse.
Valar Morghulis. And all that.
Death with dignity will always be a reach for a crowd not all that interested in life with dignity.
Another Holocene Human
@Patrick: Stupid person’s idea of smart, repeating assfax they heard at church. I was a big smartmouth at 13, spewed all the dumb nonsense from Sunday School at my best friend one day who tore me to shreds, said I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about and told me about the suffering her grandfather endured when he died. I STFU about that topic after that!
Most of the euthanasia vile spew is really based on fear, fear of dying, fear of being murdered. Churches are quite adept at whipping this kind of fear up. Look at that poor girl who died at Children’s but her mother can’t accept it and is keeping her dead child on a vent. Some of the mendacious douchebags offering “expert” opinions to her cockbag lawyer have websites at paranoia level about 0.5 Timecubes (it’s a logarithmic scale). Doctors are killing viable patients for their organs, your relatives will pull the plug to get their inheritance, the gov’t is in on it b/c they don’t want to pay, etc.
@Tree With Water
A token punishment.
Another Holocene Human
We have a winner.
Another Holocene Human
@Grumpy Code Monkey: I consider myself an A+ atheist, keeps away the Sam Harrises and Dawkinses (sounds like LOTR) but doesn’t preclude some nice secular humanisming or social justicery.
Yeha, got that. And they can live in Texas. Or Mississippi, or whereverthef*k right wing theocratic state. But their discomfort with decisions is not/should not be a licence to tell me or my dad what to do.
I had multiple conversations with my father, as he deteriorated with both physical ailments and moderate dementia, in which he very calmly would say: isn’t there a pill? I’ve lived a good life, I’m ready to go.
I’d have to say, well, no Dad, we’re in Texas. We can’t do that.
I think, as it all turned out, his final months were not too bad, and even his final weeks were only moderately crappy, and the few hospice days pretty gentle. So maybe he’d a never taken “the pills,” but he didn’t even have the option.
I resent that someone else’s rigid theology and/or fear of choice-making infringes on our lives. As it happens, both he and I are members of one of the few religious traditions that supports death with dignity. Has since 1988.
(I live in MN, which isn’t at this moment much better on death with dignity, btw.)
Recall several people here expressing a liking for Clara Bow, a/k/a “The It Girl.”
Well, the source of that moniker will be shown today at 9:30 p.m. (Eastern) on TCM, when 1927’s It airs. An 80-minute primer on what was considered sexy during Prohibition.
Another Holocene Human
@gogol’s wife: This is not actually true. All churches are losing membership and it seems to be correlated to the destruction of the middle class.
The demo for your kind of church has been squeezed, but those downmarket churches are both getting squeezed AND hoist on their own petard as they drove away a whole generation with their politicking and hate. While Gothardism gets a lot of attention (it’s should–it’s dangerous) those people are the vanguard of a very narrow extremist edge.
You know the last time mainstream Protestantism was in big trouble?
The Great Depression.
I have no use for people who wouldn’t extend the same compassion to a fellow human being that they would to a beloved family pet with a terminal illness.
Another Holocene Human
I know a lot of charities in my area that provide direct aid to children and families. Then there are the churches. They always want something big (sometimes your soul) for their “help” and then a giant pat on the back for doing the bare minimum human decency would require. Color me unimpressed.
They also put narcissists in positions of power who proceed to prey on the flock. Oh heh heh, Brother So-and-So does minister so well to the good sisters of the congregation. They have “youth pastors” and leave them alone with kids. (Or they have “priests”.) And guess what? Few churches are willing to eschew this failed model. Very few.
Another Holocene Human
@Cacti: Didn’t you know the new hotness is to spend thousands on pet surgeries that further torture the poor beast in its final months?
Good point. I know I came down hard on organized religion up near the top. And I don’t retract what I said. But I could have (and will now) point out that what the Catholic hierarchy, or Southern Baptist ultra-conservatism push in terms of order and control are by no means representative of many religious bodies.
And lots of folks on Sunday mornings in their own congregations show a humbleness and capacity for love that is not at all like the big powerhouse denominations project.
I don’t think, though, that one can look for example at the Terry Schaivo fiasco and not see the heavy hand of organized religion and the paid moralists of the right wing exerting control and stifling agency.
Cheryl from Maryland
@Hungry Joe: Another reason I am so thankful for my parents — they let me get ahold of Jurgen when I was 13.
Another Holocene Human
@MattF: Phonemes cribbed from Tolkein, I see. Steal from the greats, I guess.
I learned this morning that one of my oldest friends in the US, Rene, an Assistant District Attorney, is basically moving to hospice after battling breast and liver cancer for over two years. She had been going to Chapel Hill for treatment for two years until they basically told her that they could do no more. She then went to Cancer Treatment Centers in Atlanta and they appeared to be more optimistic. However the current rounds of treatment, and probably the weekly trips to Atlanta from NC, have taken their toll. She was discharged from the Hospital Friday (with pneumonia no less) and then due to her level of pain went right back in. At that point the family made the decision to call hospice. She is a young mother, with teenage boys. Unlike many in her situation she never quit, and she hardly ever took a day off work unless she was actually in treatment. She was the hardest working ADA in the county by at least a mile.
Our friendship goes back to 1994 where she was the young associate attorney, fresh out of law school, in the law firm that I joined as office manager. She was planning her wedding to her high school sweetheart. The entire legal community has been rallying round her since she was first diagnosed, from all wearing pink ribbon pins with “Rene’s Brigade” on them to just recently buying t-shirts with “Wear Pink for Rene” on them to finance her trips to Atlanta. In fact only on October 30 we had another “wear pink” thing to show our support and all of the legal community and the entire courthouse staff wore pink for her.
I suppose there has to be a point where you accept the inevitable and give in to what is to come but I cannot help but think that Rene fought the good fight. I am still hoping she can beat the odds for the sake of her boys, but perhaps Rene has decided that the fight is over. Whatever her choice, I will be behind her 100%.
@Cacti: If you look at my comment at 31, the gun wasn’t for my mother-in-law. She had the mixture necessary for her own life. She was afraid the dog would starve to death. I won’t repeat the language that I used but she ended up realizing the dog was loved and would be cared for. She died several years after the dog.
My father-in-law had a stroke while canoeing and had a do not feed clause. The same relatives called me to do something. He was 92 when he died by his own terms.
@Another Holocene Human:
And, of course, this is a huge reason why those kinds of churches are so vehemently opposed to government welfare programs. What chance does a fisherman have with a baited hook when somebody else is just throwing food in the water?
Ella in New Mexico
We have a few cancers in this world that people should reasonably try to fight, even if it’s debilitating and miserable, because they can reasonably be expected to recover and have years of good quality health. But even with all our wonderful medical research and advances in treatments, there are still too many that from the day you are diagnosed are essentially a weeks-to-months life expectancy regardless of what you do.
The oncology field knows cancer well, and can give you reasonably good statistics about the length and quality of your life expectancy when diagnosed with cancer. But in America, far too many doctors and patients minimize those facts and grasp at the one-in-a-million odds that you will beat your cancer. Most good Doc’s don’t want to lie to you, but they also don’t want to destroy your hope, and they will be glad to agree to intervene with all guns blasting. Then there are the nutjob docs–I know of one oncologist who has stated openly that he always pushes his patient’s to accept chemo and radiation right up until the end because in his religion, he believes we are supposed to stay alive until God takes us and that human suffering serves a purpose and that it is our duty to accept it. He regularly fights requests to terminate life support on patient’s who’s bodies are literally melting in their hospital beds. His patients often feel he is the only one who gives them hope that they can beat their cancer–go figure.
Of course patients don’t want to die, so they hear what they want to hear and submit to any and all treatment. But if you are a stage 4 small cell lung or pancreatic or liver or glioblastoma cancer patient the sad, horrible but undeniable truth is that you will not survive that illness, and you probably only have weeks to live. Blasting yourself with chemo and radiation creates more problems than the cancer does in many cases, leaving you prone to life threatening infections, coagulation disorders, perpetual mouth sores, diarrhea, unremitting pain and debilitation, all to extend life a few weeks during which you are so fucking sick you enjoy NOTHING. Dragging your family through watching you disintegrate will not help them, either, even if they tell you “fight it for us!” These patients die from their treatment, not their cancer, in most cases I’ve seen. Not all cancer is this way, but the types that are–we are no further ahead now than we were a thousand years ago.
Why we insist on forcing people to do this to themselves until there is nothing left of who they are is a moral travesty in America.
So as sad as it is to see this beautiful young woman let go of life so soon, in my opinion she did the right thing. She educated herself about her cancer and researched all of it’s facts, and realized that it was not going to be a pretty picture in the end if she just kept using what we have to treat it, and that she still would die. She’s a freaking hero, in my book, freaking courageous. If any arm-chair Christians want to delude themselves into thinking they know what God thinks of her— well, they can just go fuck themselves with a rusty spoon for all I care.
My father died of a brain tumor very similar to hers. His last two weeks in the hospital were horrific. Noone in their right mind should think that someone should be forced to go thru that, if they have any other alternative, just because it’s more ‘right with God”
the quote in this post just shows me what egotistical assholes most Christianists are. My reading of Leviticus 10:2 is that God will keep his own council and true believers are supposed to follow his word or suffer his wrath. No making up stuff on your own, no matter how well-intentioned.
Of course, there could be a story in the bible that gives free license to make shit up and then force everyone to go along with your crazy ideas by force, but I’m not aware of those verses
My life is mine and mine only and what I choose to do with it is my decision.
@WereBear: How many people wish they could have this kind of option?’
I don’t know if this would come under the term ‘ironic,’ but I’ve heard from a lot of people in this situation, that once they know they have this option, that they have the meds in hand, it’s enormously comforting. Takes away a huge amount of stress. And often, they keep on going, knowing they can always use it if things become unbearable.
What is the appropriate dress attire when one is to be interviewed by Jesus?
What’s Rand Paul’s take on this exercise of personal liberty?
@Ella in New Mexico:
Seems to me it’s of a piece with our (bullshit) American narratives of Rugged Individualism, Bootstraps, and Manifest Destiny.
That’s what I’ve heard as well — just knowing that they have the option makes it easier to keep going and many times people never get to the point where they end up doing it. In some ways, the fear of uncontrollable pain can be worse than the actual pain someone has.
I think that people who are lucid and not mentally ill (like Ms. Maynard) should absolutely have the option to decide when they’ve had enough. It’s much more of a gray area when you get to people who have dementia or another situation where they can’t communicate what they want, though. It’s one thing for someone to have a living will or other document that they created while they were well that includes a DNR or euthanasia wish, but it gets a lot trickier (and uglier) when the person can’t communicate and the family has to try and agree on what they think the person might have wanted.
Mike in NC
As if we needed a reminder that this country is full of miserable Calvinist assholes.
The Pale Scot
The is no peak wingnut, there is no peak superstitious nut.
Poe’s law people, Poe’s law.
@shelley: I guess it’s not really “ironic.” They just want to feel in control of their life, and I would guess never more than when wanting to avoid such an awful, possible, outcome.
@Ella in New Mexico: Very true. Ms. Murphy faced facts… so many people want to avoid them. In my experience, it’s the person themselves who can often do so first. It’s the relatives who want them to go down to the bitter bitter end. Which is wrong, because they are not the ones who are suffering the most.
@Ella in New Mexico:
It really depends — my father-in-law survived for two years after his glioblastoma diagnosis BUT he responded really well to chemotherapy and only had to rest up for a day or two afterwards. When that stopped working, though, it was a pretty fast downhill.
I think patients need to be better informed about curative treatments vs. maintenance treatments. My FIL was on a maintenance treatment — as his doctor explained it, it was to give him as much quality of life as possible for as long as possible, but there was no cure. It kinda helped to know that.
I see someone has been watching the current season of Dr Who
@Ella in New Mexico: A local attorney here felt a “pain” in his side while he was on the golf course one day and decided to go to the doctor. He was quickly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. What they did to him for the next four months was nothing short of horrific. They did all sorts of surgery on him, chemo, radiation, chemicals, you name it. Every time they went in and did surgery his pain increased, not decreased. They basically tortured him to death. He would have been better off to have taken a couple of pain killers while on the golf course and ignored the “pain”. His last days would have at least been on the golf course and not in a hospital bed being operated on repeatedly for weeks.
@The Pale Scot: One of the things that got me in trouble in Sunday School was pointing out that Jesus was crucified between two thieves… who were getting the same treatment. In fact, bookworm me would say, lots and lots of people were crucified. Why was his suffering supposed to be something out of the ordinary?
Fine idea, all around.
Death Panel Truck
Godbotherers gotta godbother. To not do so will make the Baby Jeebus cry.
I think that Brittany did us a service by forcing a conversation about this. Not only in relation to her control of her process and timing — something we all would understand, but also the important considerations for our loved ones.None of us is leaving here alive and yet we delay or avoid thinking about our priorities and the limitations that we will face. These include disagreements among family members about the person’s choices and yes, money — enough of it to call your shots — to have a comfortable experience with your body and spirit supported. If it is an expected death, there is a period of providing care and comfort that relies on being there and focusing on that person Without very specific directions and someone to enforce them, stuff happens. There is frequently more confusion about what to do than people sometimes realize.
Maybe my favorite all time skit about religion from Mr. Show doing a great parody of those 700 Club type shows.
@Botsplainer: You don’t know much of anything about Judiasm. It would be better to shut up and not reveal your stupidity and prejudice.
I think you mean no one should have the right to tell others how or when to end their lives. I live in Washington State and although we have a death with dignity law, it only applies to people with terminal conditions who can expect to live for only a short time as determined by doctors. So, even in Washington and Oregon, someone else gets to tell you when and how you will die. Death with dignity laws are a big step forward, but they don’t give any of us full autonomy over our lives and deaths.
Brittany Maynard’s case was clear cut — she was going to die from her brain tumor. But what of people suffering with degenerative diseases that may take years to finally kill? Those people aren’t free — according to the law — to determine the time or circumstances of their own deaths.
Whenever death with dignity laws are proposed, the opponents surface with countless unfounded claims about what they are sure will happen if the law is passed, but that never do happen in places where the laws are already in place. In Washington State, many people who are approved by physicians to end their own lives, never do. The freedom to do so seems to be what matters to many people, and once they are free to end things whenever they choose, they ultimately decide to let their diseases do the job.
And amazingly, we are not killing off disabled people right and left just because they are a burden.
Well, I guess he told her, didn’t he?
Brittany Maynard had too short a life, and what a waste to see such an exceptional young woman not able to fulfill more of her dreams.
Her loved ones mourn her, but take comfort in the brave example she set.
I choose not to read what Hot Air had to say about her choice to confront her illness rigorously.
Life is short.
And were I faced with the choice Ms. Maynard faced, I hope I would make it with as much grace.
Ella in New Mexico
@The Pale Scot:
Now see, I get it that we should honor those who are fighting-but losing- the battle against death. Supporting and providing care and comfort to the terminally ill IS incredibly spiritual, regardless of your religious beliefs. Coming to terms with your own mortality is pretty much the ultimate way to finding meaning. Life-living, not just existing–is precious and a gift. Twisting that into demanding that you lay in your own bloody excrement unable to move while experiencing 15/10 pain? Not so much.
Agreed. It’s the idea of freedom to choose, when one is faced with a terrible choice.
My father believed strongly in his right to choose, and stayed to the bitter end in his fight with cancer.
Too many small-minded people, who crafted a shabby God in their own image, would have us give it away.
@Ella in New Mexico:
My sister was in remission with breast cancer, twice. The third time, after 6 yrs it got her. The docs were great and gave her the choice, 3-4 months of massive chemo or hospice. She chose hospice. But some of her friends and some family were beside themselves that she should fight. I had to intervene and tell them to back off, quit being selfish, this is her life and her decision and all they get to do is support her or walk away. She knew what this fight is, she did it for 6 yrs. 3-4 months more wasn’t going to make any difference except pain and suffering.
I had to make the hospice decision for my dad with his over a decade of Alzheimer’s suffering. Some say that must have been hard but it wasn’t. He had suffered terribly and all his organs were shutting down. An easy binary decision, hospice or miserable pain and even more suffering and the end result would be the same and in the same time frame.
We all know that our time on this rock is short, in the overall scope of things. Some of us have a great life, many more not so much. Why does the ending have to be the worst time, at least baring accident or stupidity? We get old and/or we get sick, things don’t work so well any more, we get older and fewer things work at all, why the hell can’t we die with dignity?
Does anyone remember that ridiculous death watch for John Paul II? NBC breathlessly reporting “there is no hope for the Pope.”
When the whole point of his life was preparation for a heavenly home?
Death is so frightening, and I think that’s why religion developed. To say there’s something more than oblivion.
But is there?
Kinda-mostly OT, here’s a sad and sweet – mostly sweet IMO – post by Cord Jefferson about his Mom and the lessons she taught her son about the value of kindness. She is undergoing treatment for breast cancer now, which isn’t the main topic of the post, but clearly did motivate the creation of this wonderful post.
h/t Wonkette’s Editrix for the link via Twitter.
@Archon: Was just about to say the same thing. So depressing.
Oregon’s Death With Dignity ballot measure passed in 1994 and the Death with Dignity Act was enacted on October 27, 1997. It is, IMO, the most humane legislation ever passed in this country, bar none. Washington and Vermont have since followed suit and enacted their own versions. It’s not an easy process to go through to get the drugs prescribed for you, nor should it be easy. Not everybody who gets the prescription actually uses it – 71 of 122 people with the prescriptions in 2013 followed through. But it’s there if you decide to use it.
One of the reasons I like living in Oregon is the DWDA. If I ever find myself in such a situation, I plan on applying for the privilege of leaving this world on my terms.
I saw numbers earlier today that since Oregon enacted the Death with Dignity law in 1997, about 1100 people got approved for it, and about 750 actually went through with it. Less than 1 person per week, in other words.
@Elizabelle: That’s IMO (not a classical scholar) one of the reasons that Christianity took over from the old Greco-Roman religion. Christianity promised a nice afterlife as long as you followed the rules, the old religion promised a pretty shitty afterlife experience, unless you were really exceptional.
@Ruckus: I forgot about this, a friend going through throat cancer treatment sent it
Man With Friend With Cancer ‘Going Through A Rough Time’
I sent it on to another friend who is recovering from breast cancer treatment and she loved it!
In discussion with medical people about this issue, they confirm that it is the most extreme Christians who seem to be the most afraid of death (ie, Terry Schiavo) and make the worst decisions.
And yet, if they really believe, why would that be so?
I see Cole is wanking off again with his unchecked cynism. The guy just isn’t happy unless he can find something to be cynical about. Yet the best story of the week was the US leaving Afghanistan and the the guy who whined about that war non stop year after year has absolutely NOTING to say about it.
Cole is the Republican poster child for what they are trying to accomplish. To make people cynical about gov’t.
The Pale Scot
@Tree With Water:
@Tree With Water: I’d rather ride the eternal rails of the underground than be a witless drone in “heaven”, which is how theologians try explain away paradoxes like “How could I be blissfully happy in heaven while knowing that my son is burning in hell?”
UHhh, you don’t think about it.
Nothing but net.
@Ella in New Mexico:
The first time I heard one of those “doctors gave him 3 months to live. That was 10 years ago, and he just ran a marathon last week!” stories, my heart was appropriately warmed. But then I kept hearing them, and they took on a sinister edge because it was clear the point was to make the exceptional seem normal. False hope is just that–false–and I found it grotesque to try to instill it in people.
And then I realized what somebody else mentioned upthread: That such stories are just the medical version of the “born in abject poverty, pulled himself up by the free-market bootstraps, get the hint lazy moochers?” stories. If you can find that one person in a million who succeeded, that proves that those other 999,999 were somehow deficient or lazy because IT IS POSSIBLE! Terrible.
Thought a lot about the fellow in Dallas who died of ebola. Watched the 60 Minutes interview with the hospital staff that treated him. All I could think was, if that was me, I’d be begging for an overdose of morphine – c’mon, you can do it, we’ll all be better afterwards, just hook me up, I’ll take it from there, I’m going to fucking die a horrible death, so do me a solid, I’ll wait until you are out of the room. etc etc etc.
@Archon: Alas, this too.
Yahoo Finance Headline: “If the GOP scores the Senate, it could be bullish for the economy”
Stupid fuckers haven’t learned a Gaia. Damned. Thing.
There is a wonderful documentary called “How to Die in Oregon” which explores the issue while following a number of people who have chosen to avail themselves of the Death With Dignity Act.
It won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentaries at the 27th Sundance Film Festival in 2011.
Seek it out. You won’t be sorry.
@Litlebritdifrnt: I’m sorry your friend is so sick. I hope you will able to look back on good times with her and remember her well. I hope her family will find peace and comfort as they need it.
I’ve had two friends die of cancer and two acquaintances die of cancer. One friend was my birthday twin. She died of metastised breast cancer. It seemed that the bone marrow transplant worked until they found that the cancer had taken root in her lungs and brain. She was on several chemo routines but when the last one stopped working, she went into hospice care and died there.
The other friend died a few weeks ago. She had a cancer of smooth muscle cells. She under-went horrific surgery but they couldn’t get all of tumors. She was about start chemo when she died. I’ve been feeling incredibly angry that she had the surgery and experienced extreme complications and didn’t get any time out of it.
The two acquaintances died of acute leukemia and a rare stomach cancer. Both guys spent their last weeks in hospice care.
West of the Cascades
OMG – she could have done since we have vote-by-mail in Oregon!! And she voted KNOWING she wouldn’t be alive on election day. She committed voter fraud AND a mortal sin!! She’s the perfect poster child for the right wing’s effort to impose a “proof of life” requirement to vote over the two years leading up to the 2016 elections (only a state-approved gun license will qualify to show you’re really alive).
ETA: the Death With Dignity Act is one of the things that makes me proudest to be an Oregonian.
“this texas housewife beat cancer with this one weird trick”
Why can’t they mind their own damned business? Because by convincing you to believe what they believe, they validate it. Now the question becomes– why do they need to?
I ended up enjoying 50/50 more than I expected to. There’s a stupid, tacked-on romance towards the end that annoys me, but it’s mostly about two guys in their 20s trying to deal with the fact that one of them has cancer. Believe it or not, Seth Rogan actually can act!
ETA: Okay, upon reading the trivia, I just realized that the character that Rogen plays is based on himself. Weird.
@Mnemosyne:Hmm, I avoid cancer and dying dog movies.
Story works like that too. I like her initiative!
The Onion article was beyond perfect.
Well (spoiler alert!) he does survive. So many cancer movies are about women or kids that it was interesting to have one with a guy in his 20s and his slacker friend.
jake the antisoshul soshulist
Samuel Clemens used the term “malign thug” to refer to Yahweh.
I prefer capricious and arbitrary tyrant. Yeshua had some good ideas, but Saul of Tarsus built up a mystical cult around him.
Gin & Tonic
@Ella in New Mexico: The oncology field knows cancer well, and can give you reasonably good statistics about the length and quality of your life expectancy when diagnosed with cancer.
30+ years ago (!) my father’s doctor opened him up, took one look, closed him up and told him (and us) “he has 8 weeks.” Eight weeks later, to the fucking day, he died.
This is a delicious paragraph. The sheer density of Jesus cheesecake here would impress even the Two Fat Ladies.
@Ella in New Mexico: I’m an actual terminal stage 4 cancer patient. Thank you for saying exactly what I feel. I’m tired of hearing about fighting the disease, about curing the disease. Almost everyone still dies. We hear about miraculous recoveries and wonder why everyone doesn’t do what they did. Sick people are made to feel guilty if their diet wasn’t perfect or they were too pessimistic or didn’t pray enough.
You know what does work and does feel good? Being in the present moment and being intensely aware of it. I’m like that all the time now and it’s pretty great. I almost feel sorry for everyone else.
@Mnemosyne: You’re safe, I won’t be watchin it either way.
@Elizabelle: Damn, I didn’t see that typo. . .
I’m at the point where I assume that the people in those stories were misdiagnosed the first time around, particularly when you get the crunchy granola versions where they cured themselves with herbs and acupuncture. I mean, yeah, some people’s cancer does go into mysterious remission, but betting on that is like betting that you’ll be like the woman who survived a 30,000 foot fall without a parachute. It’s happened, but I wouldn’t recommend trying it.
@The Bobs: I’ve heard people with terminal cancer say the same thing. Except for the cancer part, it’s great because it’s a gift that lets you see what you have in a different light and live in the present. Best wishes to you.
@Mnemosyne: I enjoyed “50/50”. Well acted and was serious and funny.
@Violet: it’s definitely a gift. When I’m not in pain I’m practically giddy.
Time passes really slowly for me. At first this was difficult because time stretching on can seem boring, but I was able to adjust to it, and now it’s the new normal. I wish I could pass it on to others.
I’m lucky to still have my full faculties, if not better. If my disease were to attack my brain, I would do what she did. No doubt about it.
@Ella in New Mexico: Hard words, but true. Thanks for this.
Derek Humphry, who founded the Hemlock Society, published a “self-help” book called “Final Exit — The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying.”
In it, Humphry discusses many possible ways to commit suicide — if your life has become unbearable and you are facing death anyway — and good reasons why you should avoid almost all of them. He describes in detail the best way to take one’s own life — the method should be foolproof, available, be doable without assistance. Availability is the sticking point for most Americans — the best drug is not legal in the US, and the other good choices are Schedule II drugs available only with a prescription. However, a terminally ill person, committed to choosing the time and means of his or her own death may find Final Exit to be very helpful.
@Mnemosyne: I’d say that’s a pretty safe bet, the misdiagnosis.
When my sister found out she had cancer she also changed. Got more serene and less frantic. Actually made peace with the world and herself. When she was dying, the last week or two, I wouldn’t say she was giddy but her whole outlook seemed clearer and much more accepting of whatever. I’ve seen this before with people that know and have a pretty short timeline. It is what it is, getting mad/angry really seems like it would just clog up the time remaining.
On the other hand, I think there are many reasons to reject Christianity — or any other human religion — that have nothing to do with the worst elements of the religion or its adherents. The more one learns about the historical roots of Christianity, the harder it is for many to believe that there is anything “divinely inspired” about it at all. It’s no accident that men chose which texts would become accepted parts of the New Testament, and those texts just happen to support a patriarchy. My guess is that most Christians aren’t very interested in learning about the roots of their religion. It’s easier to blindly accept delivered dogma, than it is to examine the basis of the religion.
In “God: A Biography,” the author, Jack Miles, makes a pretty compelling case for the God of the Old Testament being — to put it mildly — a genocidal maniac (my words, not the author’s). It’s pretty clear “He” was a racist — after all he created human beings and then decided on a chosen people to be his favorites. And “He” was willing to wipe out many thousands of people — guilty and innocent alike — for being enemies of his chosen group.
It’s amazing to me that after thousands of years practice, religious people still cling to religions that are, at best, implausible, and at their worst, unbelievable. Or maybe, at their best they are just plain unbelievable.
My personal belief is that Jesus is way more compassionate towards those who die than the right wing assholes think he is.
RWNJ’s see a fire-and-brimstone only God, and they of course, are the righteous, so they aren’t on that side of the metaphysical equation. In life, they spit on the poor, the “other”, because that’s how they’re wired…they ignore every single actual command in the Bible about helping the poor in order to focus on things like Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
So yeah. I think a lot of Christian Fascists might find themselves disappointed one day.
But that’s just my personal belief.
@Gin & Tonic: I wish they had done that with my friend, then she only would have had one surgery instead of two. There was the surgery where they cur out tumjors and 10-12 feet of intestine, and then the surgery to clear out an infection. And they didn’t even get all the tumors — that would have meant cutting out more intestine. So then they waited a week or so to begin chemo after the assessment of her situation. She was in the hospital waiting for the chemo to start when she died.
Because they all know exactly what the Almighty (always male!) would do if only he had complete information. If not for them, who would interpret god’s will for the rest of us?
And no, you bad people, “Nobody at all, thankfully” is not an answer acceptable to godbotherers.
They’re very big on the Old Testament, not so much on the new one. I always figured everything that was good about Christianity was in the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount – what else do you need, anyway? – but there’s not enough fire and brimstone in those for your true believers.
PS – Pat Robertson is on line two. He wants your money.
That’s kind of a weird thing, though — the Christian Old Testament doesn’t bear all that much resemblance to the Torah, and yet a lot of Christians/people raised as Christians assume that they’re one and the same.
@danielx: One of my favorite lies that W use to tell was about how the book in the bible that changed his life was Luke. Luke is about as far away from the right wing as you can get. If he was truly inspired by Luke, W would have been a left wing socialist.
While every right wing fundy loves Revelations, because they think it means they are going to be the special ones that are rewarded, very few realize that before a bunch of old white guys got together to decide which books were holy enough to be included in the modern canon, there was Peter’s book of Revelations which was very specific about what punishments people would receive for their sins, but in the end everyone would be forgiven and go to heaven. In fact Martin Luther tried to get rid of John’s book of Revelation, and I think it is missing in the Greek Orthodox bible.
One of my favorite questions for fundie Xtians when they tell me the bible is the actual word of god is; Really? exactly which version of the bible would that be.
My other favorite question is; If Noah’s story is true, how did kangaroos get to Australia, and how come nobody from other parts of the world like China, or north or south America had ever heard about Noah before Christians showed up? After all, everyone on the planet has to be a direct descendant of Noah and his family.
The King James Version, of course. All other versions are idolatrous and not the true Word.
Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one whose views of religion are totally unconnected to my views of religious people. I’ve had Christian, unaligned theist and agnostic phases all – the reason I eventually went agnostic was figuring that not only was there no way to know if there was a god, but there was in any case no way to know who was right about him even if he did exist, and picking the religion whose views were closest to my own would basically be creating God in my own image, so… no point.
The whole “Christianity is this monstrous thing” never came into it. When I was religious, I couldn’t stand the Christian Right, but was fine with Christians who weren’t assholes. Now that I’m not religious, I still can’t stand the Christian Right, and I’m still fine with Christians who aren’t assholes. Realizing the extent to which the Catholic Church was run by the former and not the latter was indeed a factor in pushing me away – from that particular church – but then the RCC doesn’t speak for all of Christianity any more than my nice little suburban, cosmopolitan, very tolerant church in suburban Maryland spoke for all of Catholicism, and the skepticism was happening anyway and would’ve happened even if the RCC was the nicest church on earth.
Same thing outside of Christianity. When I was religious, I thought the Jewish and Muslim equivalents of the RR were assholes, and now that I’m not, I still think that. I didnt know who Sam Harris was back then, but I’d have thought he was an asshole all the same, which is what I think right now – I certainly thought my own French government telling schoolgirls to abide by a secular dress code were busybodies and assholes who (like the person in the original post) should’ve just minded their own fucking business. (And I have at least one atheist friend who finds it immensely frustrating that my falling away from religion wasn’t accompanied by any change in my opinion of all these various factions, and that I didn’t become a born-again believer in the prophet Sam Harris).
It’s why I’ve always found it weird what a huge deal people make out of conversion (to another religion or out of religion altogether) – and how they expect it to always be a life-defining event in which black becomes white and up becomes down (related: the number of my religious friends who see a person going atheist and go OMG, something terrible must have happened to make him lose his faith and blame God). Maybe they just thought about the whole “is there a god” thing and changed their minds.
Because busybodies are bullies at heart. They’re just passive-agressive about the whole thing.
*cough* Terri Schiavo *cough*
Oh god, that shit is the worst. Those stories make me irrationally angry.
Ella in New Mexico
@The Bobs: So sorry about your diagnosis, but I support your choice to live in the moment and take all you can from your life now.
So much pressure is put on the person diagnosed with terminal illness to “Fight this! Don’t ever quit!”–its unfair and selfish. It’s because loved ones and friends don’t want to let go, don’t want to feel the pain of losing you, which is totally human. But I don’t think they realize just how much of a burden that can be to the one dealing with the illness. God bless you, and may you enjoy many, many days of warmth, love and beauty from here on.
Individuals should not be constrained in ANY area by someone else’s religious opinions!