Suicide Pod ready to launch in Switzerland

The company behind a 3D-printed pod which can help carry out assisted suicide has said it is confident it could be used in Switzerland as early as next year.

Sarco commissioned a Swiss legal expert, who found that the machine did not break any laws in the country…

Assisted suicide, in which somebody is given the means to end their own life, is legal in Switzerland. About 1,300 people died there in this way in 2020…

The current method used in Switzerland is to provide the person with a series of liquids that, if ingested, will end the person’s life.

By contrast, the pod – which can be placed anywhere – is flooded with nitrogen, reducing the oxygen levels rapidly…The process would make the person inside lose consciousness and die in approximately 10 minutes.

All sounds perfectly reasonable and a helluva more civilized than the hoops folks have to jump through in most “advanced” Western nations.

Stephen Hawking would consider assisted suicide

Stephen Hawking has said he would consider ending his own life if he became a burden to others or if he had “nothing more to contribute”.

But the physicist and cosmologist told a forthcoming BBC programme he knows he has much more scientific work to do, despite his advanced motor neurone disease.

“To keep someone alive against their wishes is the ultimate indignity,” Hawking, 73, told his interviewer, the comedian Dara O’Briain. “I would consider assisted suicide only if I were in great pain or felt I had nothing more to contribute but was just a burden to those around me.”…

It is not the first time Hawking has voiced support for assisted suicide – in 2014, he revealed in a BBC interview how he had attempted to die after a mid-1980s tracheostomy operation. “I briefly tried to commit suicide by not breathing,” he said. “However, the reflex to breathe was too strong.”

Hawking, who is the director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, has said those who help their loved ones who want to die should be immune from prosecution.

But he has also said he believes safeguards should ensure a person genuinely wishes to die, pointing to a famous incident in his own life. In 1985, when suffering complications from pneumonia, his then-wife, Jane, refused to turn off his life support machine. Hawking recovered and went on to complete his critically and popularly acclaimed book A Brief History of Time…

Assisted suicide is still a crime in the UK and virtually the whole of the United States. Part of the foolishness of lawyers and politicians paying more attention to morality based on superstition rather than reality-based ethics.

Yes, if I ever fall into the category of wishing for, needing, assisted-suicide, I have friends in Oregon [you know who you are 🙂 ] who would provide help and homespace for my wife and me. But, when you reach that kind of cul-de-sac mobility often becomes part of the equation.

It’s a question I’ve discussed with my doctor in philosophical terms – and here in New Mexico the questions are likely to be soon resolved by our State Supreme Court. Still, that all of this rigamarole exists is an affront to my personal liberty. We shouldn’t have to rely upon courts for civil liberties, civil rights, that our legislatures haven’t the courage to provide for.

Aid in Dying sounds better than Death with Dignity to some folks

The original article deals with Robert Milton and his quest for a right to die

Helping the terminally ill end their lives, condemned for decades as immoral, is gaining traction. Banned everywhere but Oregon until 2008, it is now legal in five states. Its advocates, who have learned to shun the term “assisted suicide,” believe that as baby boomers watch frail parents suffer, support for what they call the “aid in dying” movement will grow further.

In January, a district court in New Mexico authorized doctors to provide lethal prescriptions and declared a constitutional right for “a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying.” Last May, the Vermont Legislature passed a law permitting it, joining Montana, Oregon and Washington. This spring, advocates are strongly promoting “death with dignity” bills in Connecticut and other states.

Public support for assisted dying has grown in the past half-century but depends in part on terminology. In a Gallup Poll conducted in May, for example, 70 percent of respondents agreed that when patients and their families wanted it, doctors should be allowed to “end the patient’s life by some painless means.” In 1948, that share was 37 percent, and it rose steadily for four decades but has remained roughly stable since the mid-1990s.

Yet in the same 2013 poll, only 51 percent supported allowing doctors to help a dying patient “commit suicide…”

Opponents say that actively ending a life, no matter how frail a person is, is a moral violation and that patients might be pushed to die early for the convenience of others.

“The church teaches that life is sacred from conception through to natural death,” Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe, N.M., told legislators at a recent breakfast as he criticized the court decision there…

Actually, you can count on the Archbishop to moralize against anything not listed in his rulebook: women priests, reproductive rights for women, divorce, gay marriage. Pretty much everything but war. He’ll say he’s against that, too – but, I don’t recall bumping into him at any peace rallies.

Continue reading

Poll shows majority of religious Brits support assisted suicide

A major survey of religious opinion shows that large majorities of believers are in favour of legalising assisted dying.

The poll, carried out by YouGov for the Westminster Faith Debates and involving nearly 4,500 people, reveals that only among Muslims and Baptists are there majorities against a change in the law that prohibits assisted suicide.

Majorities of Anglicans, Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Methodists and Pentecostalists are in favour of changing the law.

Christian groups reacted with dismay to the results. Austen Ivereigh, of the lobby group Catholic Voices, said: “It shows how little exposed even practising religious people are to the teachings of their church…”

A Church of England spokesman said: “This study demonstrates that complex discussions on topics such as assisted suicide and euthanasia cannot be effectively conducted through the medium of online surveys.”

Demonstrating that dumbthink about surveys isn’t limited to members of our Republican Party.

The poll shows that the proportion of believers who say they make up their minds with the help of “local or national religious leaders” is 2% among Anglicans and 9% among Catholics. Most people rely on their own judgment or on reason when making moral decisions, and among those groups there is overwhelming support for a change in the law.

Aye, there’s the rub. That part about relying on your own judgement.

American Catholics, Baptists, fundamentalist True Believers in general accept no free will, self-education or self-reliance for critical decisions. The Father or Big Brother in charge tells you to obey his rules preferably as writ in the 14th Century. Whichever rationale is offered – your role is to obey.

Catholic Church reinstates 17th Century prayer as part of the political campaign against same-sex marriage, death with dignity

The French Catholic Church will revive a centuries-old custom next week with an updated national “prayer for France” opposing the same-sex marriage and euthanasia reforms planned by the new Socialist government.

The prayer, to be read in all churches on Aug 15, echoes the defense of traditional marriage by Pope Benedict and Catholic leaders around the world as gay nuptials gain acceptance, especially in Europe and North America…

King Louis XIII decreed in 1638 that all churches would pray on Aug 15, the day Catholics believe the Virgin Mary was assumed bodily into Heaven, for the good of the country. The annual practice fell into disuse after World War Two.

In the text, Catholics will pray for newly elected officials “so that their sense of the common good will overcome special demands.” This would include support for traditional families “throughout their lives, especially in painful moments…”

Pope Benedict said in January that same-sex marriage threatened “the future of humanity itself…”

Socialist President Francois Hollande pledged during the election campaign last spring to reform marriage laws and his government has said it would do so early next year. Opinion polls say about two-thirds of the French support gay marriage…

Hollande has also expressed sympathy for euthanasia, which is not allowed in France, and named a commission to review whether the current law stressing palliative care for the dying needed to be expanded…

Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium. Switzerland and the U.S. state of Oregon allow assisted suicide.

I’m never surprised when “defenders of the faith” attack my blog posts as overdoing hyperbole when I accuse the Pope and his Princes of the Church of living in the Middle Ages – or the Dark Ages, depending on the issue.

Kind of heartwarming to see an official order reinstating church politics from the early 17th Century. Affirmation is a trip.

Our northern neighbor leads towards choosing death with dignity

Gloria Taylor
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Gloria Taylor, a Canadian, has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Over a period of a few years, her muscles will weaken until she can no longer walk, use her hands, chew, swallow, speak, and ultimately, breathe. Then she will die. Taylor does not want to go through all of that. She wants to die at a time of her own choosing.

Suicide is not a crime in Canada, so, as Taylor put it: “I simply cannot understand why the law holds that the able-bodied who are terminally ill are allowed to shoot themselves when they have had enough because they are able to hold a gun steady, but because my illness affects my ability to move and control my body, I cannot be allowed compassionate help to allow me to commit an equivalent act using lethal medication.”

Taylor sees the law as offering her a cruel choice: either end her life when she still finds it enjoyable, but is capable of killing herself, or give up the right that others have to end their lives when they choose. She went to court, arguing that the provisions of the Criminal Code that prevent her from receiving assistance in dying are inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms…

Last month, Justice Lynn Smith issued her judgment. The case, Carter v. Canada, could serve as a textbook on the facts, law, and ethics of assistance in dying.

…She considers, and accepts, an argument advanced by Wayne Sumner, a distinguished Canadian philosopher: if the patient’s circumstances are such that suicide would be ethically permissible were the patient able to do it, then it is also ethically permissible for the physician to provide the means for the patient to do it…

Smith then declared, after considering the applicable law, that the provisions of the Criminal Code preventing physician assistance in dying violate disabled people’s right not only to equality, but also to life, liberty, and security…

Of course, the decision will be appealed. Not only religious organizations which feel they have the final say about people’s lives; but, legitimate medical ethicists will ask for further interpretations of Canadian law.

I hope that Justice Smith’s verdict on assistance in dying will stand and another door will open to personal liberty, an individual’s right to order their own life.

Right-to-die movement continues to gain as the world ages

Right-to-die activists hope more countries will allow assisted suicide or euthanasia in coming years as the world population ages…

“We have seen over the last 20 years a general migration of positivity towards this being a just cause,” Ted Goodwin, the American president of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies, told a news conference in Zurich on Tuesday.

Goodwin was speaking as representatives of 55 right-to-die societies from around the world gathered for a three-day congress to mark the 30th anniversary of Exit, a Swiss group which provides lethal drugs to help the terminally ill die.

Assisted suicide has been legal in Switzerland since 1942, if performed by a non-physician who has no direct interest in the death. Euthanasia, or “mercy killing”, is legal only in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the U.S. state of Oregon…

He said ageing societies meant that half of medical costs are now falling in the last three to six months of life on care that does not change the trajectory of a disease…

A rise in terminally ill foreigners – particularly from Germany, France and Britain – travelling to Switzerland to commit suicide have prompted calls in recent years for the country to tighten its liberal laws.

But in 2010, voters in Zurich overwhelmingly rejected proposed bans on assisted suicide and “suicide tourism”, and in 2011, the national government decided against imposing new limits on assisted suicide.

Goodwin said the examples of Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon had not shown any noteworthy abuse. “Ours is a mission of compassion, of generosity. We know that no-one is more vulnerable than those who are dying and those dying in pain,” he said. “Society can provide protection for vulnerable individuals.”

Exit President Saskia Frei said the practice was carefully monitored by the Swiss authorities: “There is no death which is as closely investigated as assisted suicide,” she said.

Opponents of death with dignity generally are speaking for one-or-another religion. They have a perfect right to their beliefs – and I have a perfect right not to be forced to live by their religious rules.

As long as the United States – excepting Oregon – continues to maintain such inhumanity, I reserve the right to defy that law.

German doctors regain the right to assist suicide

German doctors have regained the power to use their own judgement in cases where terminally ill patients want to die – after a court lifted an absolute ban on them leaving such patients with enough drugs to kill themselves.

Previously, doctors who deliberately left a patient with the means to commit suicide did so under the threat of fines of up to €50,000, imposed by their professional association, the Chamber of Physicians. But the ÄK’s ban was lifted by Berlin’s administrative court on Monday, as judges found it was “too general,” court spokesman Stephan Groscurth told The Local.

While euthanasia remains illegal in Germany, if a doctor is certain that their dying patient wishes to end their life they can now leave them the means to commit suicide without facing censure from the ÄK.

When a doctor cannot medically help a suffering patient and has a close personal relationship with them, the court has decided that it would be, “against the freedom of conscience not to help them,” said Groscurth…

Some doctors have welcomed the decision as a step towards legalising euthanasia in Germany, as terminally-ill patients who want assistance to die have to do so in countries where it is legal, like Switzerland.

“This is a step towards stopping ‘suicide-tourism’ that is happening in Germany right now,” judge Dieter Graefe told The Local.

An affirmation of the scientific belief that human beings can be a self-perfecting species. Just not in Congress.

It may seem unAmerican to political newbies; but, there have been periods in our history when elected officials worked to provide leadership for the common good instead of relying on guidance from the wealthiest contributors, the noisiest 19th Century fan clubs.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian dies at 83

Excerpts from CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta: No matter how old someone is, or how sick they have been, it still comes as a shock to hear they have died. 83-year-old Jack Kevorkian, Dr. Death himself, died this morning as Bach, his favorite, played over the intercom. I felt an involuntary gasp of air in my throat when I learned of his passing.

Last June, he agreed to sit down with me, and participate in what would be the last interview of his life…

Dr. Kevorkian told me he was afraid to die. “Just like everyone else,” he added. If you sat and listened to him, that wouldn’t seem nearly as ironic as you think. He also said he wasn’t ready to die. He said he needed to warn the world about the perils of an overabundant society, change their views on euthanasia, and help re-establish the glory of the 9th amendment…

I told Jack I hoped to see him again one day. And, I meant it. RIP.

Please read the following interview that Dr. Gupta did with Kevorkian.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta interviews Jack Kevorkian

Fearless FBI raids home of 91-year-old making suicide kits

A great-grandmother selling do-it-yourself asphyxiation kits by mail said on Thursday she was ordered from her house at gunpoint by federal agents who raided her home and seized cartons of documents, computers and sewing machines.

Sharlotte Hydorn, 91, told Reuters about a dozen agents in flak jackets from the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service arrived at her San Diego-area home at about 7 a.m. local time on Wednesday, and ordered her outside, shouting, “Come out, or I’ll shoot.”

“I had guns in my face. I thought, ‘I’m dying on my feet.’ … I didn’t know what to say,” she recounted, sitting inside a sprawling three-bedroom ranch house still strewn a day later with papers and boxes.

They presented her with a 37-page search warrant signed on Tuesday by a U.S. magistrate and proceeded to comb through her house for nearly 11 hours, leaving the dwelling in disarray when they left, she said…

A copy of the search warrant shown to Reuters indicated Hydorn was under investigation for alleged conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion and the “sale of adulterated or misbranded medical device.”

Hydorn made headlines after one of her mail-order customers from Oregon, Nicholas Klonoski, 29, described by his family as suffering from depression but otherwise healthy, used one of her kits to take his own life in December.

Her product consists of a plastic hood that closes around the neck, and tubing that connects the hood to a tank of helium or other inert gas users must supply for themselves.

Hydorn says her so-called “exit kits” are intended to help terminally ill people end their lives with dignity in their own homes, though she has acknowledged she performs no background checks or screening of individuals who order the apparatus.

She sells them for $60 each, including shipping and instructions, under the brand name GLADD, which stands for Glorious Life and Dignified Death.

Perish the thought the law, the government, politicians, priests and police should allow someone to choose to end their own life – without harming another human being, simply making a choice and receiving a bit of assistance from another thoughtful human being.

My contempt for agencies like the FBI – who might better serve us all by spending this time tracking down heroin distributors – only increases.

Add to that the political creeps who jump on this opportunity to write more useless, debasing laws that might suck up a few more votes from religious fundamentalists who have personal messages from that invisible lawyer in the sky demanding obedience.

They disgust me with their fears and rules requiring government approval to die.