Original Proposal

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Original Proposal

Post by johnkarls »

[Originally Proposed by johnkarls » Sat Dec 08, 2012 5:08 am - 126 views before being transplanted here with a "new odometer"]

I propose that we focus on the issue of assisted suicide and, in particular, the 11/23/2012 Frontline/PBS documentary entitled “The Suicide Plan.”

It goes into great depth regarding the procedures of a national assisted-suicide organization that accepts applications and then assists with the suicides.

It also goes into great depth concerning the legal issues as a result of which the organization provides only information (attempting to hide behind the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech) and support, including attending the event. However, the applicant has to obtain all of her/his own materials (primarily helium and a plastic bag to fit over the head) and none of the organization’s members who attend the event are allowed to touch the applicant. [NB: These procedures have NOT prevented prosecutions.]

However, the documentary largely ignores the “elephant in the room” which is how a civilized society can treat its pets more humanely than its own human members.

And doesn’t even begin to deal with the theological issues that underpin the whole imbroglio. In this regard, almost all of the opposition to assisted suicide comes from religious people who believe that it is wrong to kill human beings. However, in American society this usually stems from the Ten Commandments which include the injunction “Thou Shalt Not Kill” [which is often pointed out by pedants to mean, if properly translated, “Thou Shalt Not Murder” which only begs the question when it comes to assisted suicide because Oregon, for example, permits assisted suicide but it is prosecutable as murder in most states, particularly Michigan where occurred the most nationally-publicized prosecution in which Dr. Jack Kevorkian, aka Dr. Death, who assisted with more than 130 suicides, was sentenced in 1999 to 10-to-25 years in prison for second-degree murder but pardoned after serving 8 years on condition that he no longer assist or offer advice vis-à-vis suicides].

Many, if not most, religious people who hold this view profess to be Christians. And they ought to be surprised by the fact that they are making Christ out to be a liar!!!

Because the Ten Commandments are 10 of the 613 laws of Judaism and have nothing to do with Christianity!!! The Ten Commandments, according to Judaism, were given by God to Moses to govern the behavior of the Israelites.

On the other hand, Christ said that THERE ARE ONLY TWO COMMANDMENTS = "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself" (Luke 10:27), whereupon immediately follows the parable of the Good Samaritan in answer to the follow-up question of the definition of neighbor.

The Second Commandment, often referenced as The Golden Rule and featured by most of the world’s other great religions, is the only commandment that Christianity brings to bear on the question of assisted suicide. And if the situation were reversed and the Christian would want the other person to assist with the Christian's own suicide, then The Golden Rule has been satisfied.

Enough already as a teaser.

But one last thought = isn't this an "equal protection" constitutional issue because, like abortion before Roe v. Wade, the well-to-do can travel to permissive jurisdictions (foreign countries in the case of abortion prior to 1973 and ditto + Oregon in the case of present-day assisted suicide) while the poor are faced with the unhappy choice of violating the law or foregoing de facto rights accorded only the wealthy.

Posts: 2056
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Inquiries Concerning My Relationship To The Issue

Post by johnkarls »

In response to our most-recent weekly pre-dawn-Saturday e-mail announcing this month’s topic, there have been quite a few inquiries regarding my personal relationship to this issue, if any.

My father, though not a minister (he was an attorney by profession and a bank CEO), still holds the records for number of quadrennial conferences attended for governing the US Methodist Church and for governing the International Methodist Church -- spanning more than 50 years in each case. He (like all of the 6 members of my family of origin) was an accomplished musician and often performed as a substitute organist for other churches, as well as serving as a substitute minister for small churches that only had a single minister who became ill.

Also, in order to appreciate the vignette that follows, my mother spent her life “in the trenches” volunteering with inner-city unwed mothers and, to her disgust, was often showered with awards for doing so.

My father facilitated an Adult Ed class in his home church for more than 60 years which I always attended when visiting home.

In his 90’s, he began suffering from Alzheimer’s. After several years of caring for him at home, my mother had to move him to an assisted-care facility because he would often go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and fall asleep on the floor after forgetting what he was doing and, because of their relative size, she could not manage to get him back into bed. However, for the 2 years or so that he lived in the assisted-care facility before passing away, my mother spent 8 hours/day with him and always brought a lunch she had prepared which she then shared with him.

The successor facilitator of the Adult Ed class during one of the sessions just before my father passed away, spent 10-15 minutes praising my mother for her daily devotion to my father’s needs.

Then the facilitator suddenly turned to me and asked me what I thought of the situation!!!

Caught unawares, I blurted out what I had just been thinking -- that I was thankful that Alzheimer’s does not involve any pain because if my father had been in pain and had asked me to help him commit suicide, I would have done so. Followed by the observation that I just don’t understand a society that treats its pets more humanely than its human members!!!

[NB: Except for 7 years in Ann Arbor, my father lived his whole life in Saginaw MI and Michigan is where only 2 years before the event being described, Dr. Kevorkian began serving his 10-to-25 year sentence for second-degree murder for assisting in a suicide.]

I had been staring at the floor the entire time while speaking.

But after finishing, I looked up and saw that my mother and all of the other women in the class (more than a dozen) had tears streaming down their faces and were nodding their heads in agreement.

As many of you probably know, Alzheimer’s is NOT fatal, in the sense that nobody ever dies of Alzheimer’s directly. Death is always indirect -- for example, the victim forgets to put on a coat before going out in the snow and gets pneumonia from which s/he dies.

Our luck held!!! My father did not contract any disease involving pain and passed away peacefully in his sleep a few days after 9/11.


I have only one other association with the issue.

I was married for 33 years and we had/have two children. When they were still only 4 and 7 (this would have been about 25 years ago), my father-in-law who was retired, was dying of lung cancer since he had been a life-long heavy smoker.

After confinement at the Stanford U Medical Center for 2-3 weeks, he decided that he wanted to “pull the plug.”

[Most states will permit a patient to reject “life support” and then die (or not) a natural death despite the lack of an assisted-suicide statute.]

My father-in-law summoned his three children and my wife inquired whether he would like his grandchildren to come as well (our two children were his only grandchildren). His first reaction was affirmative. But he called back the following day to say that he had decided that he wanted our children to remember him the way he used to be when he was still relatively healthy.

Accordingly, my wife and I decided that I should remain home to care for our children because they were so upset about knowing that their grandfather was about to die.

Trying to distract them for the several days involved (my father-in-law had not set a date and waited several days after the arrival of his children before he finally “pulled the plug”) was an experience that I hope never to have to repeat!!!

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