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April 14, 2005

Lethal Injection - Dignified or Cruel?

Topics: News

AMomandHerBlog links to the following article about legislation aimed at legalizing active euthanasia:

The Death with Dignity Act would allow Vermonters with six months to live to take a lethal dose of prescribed medications. There must be two physicians who sign off on the illness as terminal, and the patient must voluntarily make a written request for the medication.

"It scares me to think I might have taken that option," said Maureen Kelly, who is opposed to the legislation. Twenty years ago, Kelly suffered severe brain damage in a car accident that left in her in the hospital for three years -- including nine months in a coma. While she may have considered using lethal medication, she's glad she did not.


It is ironic that at the same time the Daily Telegraph and other media outlets are reporting that execution by lethal injection is "cruel".

Posted by tim at April 14, 2005 8:48 PM

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Just a clarification...that's not "active euthanasia"--it's physician-assisted suicide. I know it's technicality, but ask Dr. Kevorkian in jail how big of a technicality it is.

The physicians in this case (Oregon, Vermont, California) would essentially become the gun dealer while the patient pulls the trigger. In active euthanasia the physician locks, loads, and fires.

Posted by: Jeremy at April 15, 2005 9:13 AM

This was bound to come. And lethal injections will be next. Eventually for infants as well, as in Holland. You have a good point about the distinction, Jeremy, but it won't hold up in practice forever.

A medical student acquaintance e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago. He came on duty one night and was told by the senior resident, "There's patient so-and-so. His morphine dose is at such-and-such. [Something very high] I want you to increase it every hour until the patient expires. This has gone on long enough. I want it over with tonight." My friend looked shocked. "Okay," said the senior resident, "If you feel uncomfortable doing it, I will. I have no problem doing it." And the patient died a few hours later.

Posted by: Lydia at April 15, 2005 12:47 PM

Actually, medicially assisted death or hastening of it is still illegal in Holland and Belgium for infants.

If your comment related to the study that was recently (this week?) published, it was conducted to see how widespread the practice is with newborns. Since euthanasia is already legal in Belgium, the study was conducted there out of the belief that doctors would be more honest about it, but it is to be considered as indicative for most other countries as well (in Europe anyway).

That said, there has been a call to actually encompass it into a law, so doctors would have actual guidelines to follow but so far, nothing has actually been decided.

(I tried to be as neutral as possible so apologies if it still comes across like I'm taking sides but my only reason was to point out it's not currently actually legal to do)

Posted by: Vanessa at April 15, 2005 1:17 PM

Last I looked, Groningen was in The Netherlands--aka Holland. They reported to the prosecutor the infant euthanasias they carried out, and there have been no prosecutions. They have therefore proposed the Groningen Protocol with so-called "guidelines" (which, experience indicates, will be violated as soon as the ink is dry) for legalizing the practice formally. But it makes little difference. The illegality of such practices in Holland is purely formal and means nothing in terms of punishment and protection. Even in the few cases where the active euthanasia of disabled newborns has gone to court, there has been no penalty. Wesley Smith has documented all of this at length.

I said nothing about legality, in any event. You see, we pro-lifers really do have information and, despite our passion about our subject, are not incapable of gathering facts and in need of help from the ostensibly cooler heads of those not horrified by the practices we deplore.

Posted by: Lydia at April 15, 2005 4:47 PM

I actually did read your comment several times before posting mine and it seems that each time I misread lethal as legal.
I'm sorry for the mistake but none the less it was meant as a clarification due to a misread on my part, not an accusation of getting the facts wrong.

Posted by: Vanessa at April 15, 2005 5:04 PM