Author Topic: Euthanasia Controversy  (Read 2248 times)

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Offline Sleepy

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Euthanasia Controversy
« on: June 21, 2014, 09:41:42 am »
A Czech government adviser has resigned after his proposal for legalizing euthanasia for kids who have birth defects unsurprisingly left citizens enraged.

Quote
Miroslav Mitloehner drew strong protests after he argued in a recent article published in the Journal of Medical Law and Bioethics that "it makes no sense to prolong the life of a baby born as a monster."

Mitloehner said doctors should be allowed to terminate babies' lives without parents' consent, adding that their disabilities led to the question "whether such a freak is a human being at all."

Mitloehner said society should have the courage to agree to "legally end their life in the course of pregnancy or immediately after the birth."

http://news.yahoo.com/czechs-condemn-euthanasia-proposal-children-113152867.html

I definitely disagree with his argument that doctors should be able to do this without parental consent, and he was pretty stupid to call infants with birth defects "monsters" and "freaks", but he still brings up an important point. Some children are born with defects that are not detectable in the womb, and both they and the parents are forced to suffer a great deal of pain and anguish before the child finally dies. The issue is figuring out where to draw the line as we continue to develop better treatment for conditions that were once a guaranteed death sentence. Thoughts?
Guys, this is getting creepy. Can we talk about cannibalism instead?

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Offline Ultimate Paragon

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Re: Euthanasia Controversy
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2014, 09:54:53 am »
I'm still on the fence about euthanasia.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2014, 09:57:09 am by Ultimate Paragon »

Offline I am lizard

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Re: Euthanasia Controversy
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2014, 10:34:16 am »
He didn't really specify what classifies a birth defect worthy of euthanasia, so I'm thinking he could be referring to any disease that would make the child even slightly different.

Offline mellenORL

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Re: Euthanasia Controversy
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2014, 11:23:05 am »
He's an ass. Mitloehner apparently did not narrow his definition of "birth defect" to any degree acceptable for civilized people.

As it is, I can think of only one hospital guideline that would make ethical sense, perhaps, in cases of babies born with very severe malformations. Continue palliative supportive care, including nutrition and if needed, pain medication, until they pass away from the complications caused by the defects. Typically, though, depending on where the child is born, hospitals are either obligated to schedule surgeries and invasive procedures to try and correct serious malformation problems, or the parents can demand that extraordinary measures be taken. I feel like there can be many instances where such aggressive treatment is in itself a great cruelty.
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Offline MadCatTLX

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Re: Euthanasia Controversy
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2014, 11:34:34 am »
He didn't really specify what classifies a birth defect worthy of euthanasia, so I'm thinking he could be referring to any disease that would make the child even slightly different.

I'll hazard a guess that anencephaly counts as bad enough.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMlVNFpzKNI" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMlVNFpzKNI</a>

The complete willful ignorance of parents about what anencephaly actually entails is what bothers me most about he video. Having no brain means it literally has a consciousness level slightly higher than a plant, and likely somewhere below the Box Jellyfish*.

*The box jellyfish is actually unusual among jellyfish in that it has a very basic brain or brain like nervous system. They're also famous for being one of the most poisonous species.
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Offline mellenORL

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Re: Euthanasia Controversy
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2014, 12:12:12 pm »
He has a brain stem, which is not dissimilar to the brains of reptiles or amphibians, but it is malformed, too. They've had that kid on tons of meds, probably because his brain stem cannot even regulate his organs and metabolism properly, unlike an actual reptile. Blind, deaf and mindless; totally locked in. Looks like he never even grew any baby teeth, either, unless they had to be removed, so his parents could avoid being bitten by him, which is a common problem in cases of severely stunted brain development. At least he is not suffering mentally, since no meaningful mentation is possible, but I bet some of his meds are pain killers. He was a really good candidate for just medically supervised palliative care until he passed, but since the parents have legal rights over him as if he were chattel, he basically just continues to exist  to satisfy their nurturing needs and beliefs.
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Offline Sigmaleph

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Re: Euthanasia Controversy
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2014, 12:59:56 pm »
Stupid to say that it should be done by doctors without parental consent.

As the parent's decision, though, I can understand legalization in extreme cases.

Also,
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The University of Hradec Kralove where Mitloehner was the director of the Institute of Social Work said Friday he was fired from the post.

I'm not sure what "director of the Institute of Social Work" implies, but this is troubling.
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Re: Euthanasia Controversy
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2014, 01:23:19 pm »
*The box jellyfish is actually unusual among jellyfish in that it has a very basic brain or brain like nervous system. They're also famous for being one of the most poisonous species.

It has always amused me to think of jellyfish as basically being the closest thing to floating, hostile brains.

Then again I've played Star Fox 64, so...

On-topic:

Uh, good jorb asshole, you basically advocated eugenics and wondered why people got pissed off.
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Offline Yla

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Re: Euthanasia Controversy
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2014, 04:04:20 pm »
but since the parents have legal rights over him as if he were chattel, he basically just continues to exist  to satisfy their nurturing needs and beliefs.
I'm having a beef with this part of your post. Using a chattel comparison wrt infants is inflammatory and useless. He can't exercise his rights or make decisions, so who is making the decision? The parents or the doctor? You seem to support the doctor on this and denounce the parents as egoistical. You're making a very general claim here, but I'm slightly suspicious that this is because you agree with the doctor's judgment in this specific case.
What if the child has a heavy disability but has a small chance at having a full life, while the doctor is pessimistic and says 'don't bother, there's enough cripples in the world', trying to enforce the euthanasia against the parents' wishes? Will you maintain your stance that infants are chattel owned by the parents? Will you amend your simile and paint the doctor as the farmer instead?
That said, I've stopped trying to anticipate what people around here want a while ago, I've found it makes things smoother.
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Offline mellenORL

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Re: Euthanasia Controversy
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2014, 11:21:19 pm »
My post was directed at the parents of the brainless child in the Youtube embed, specifically, and only. I don't think the issue of policy making in regards to treatment, or non-interference, with severe malformations that deprive a child of any chance at a decent life is at all simple, ethically or medically.  The use of the word chattel is common here in criticizing current laws that do in fact date back to the days when women and children were chattel of men in every legal sense. Other than protection from outright neglect and abuse, children in living in many American states are still essentially chattel, legally, in their lack of real rights.

I am very critical of those particular parents. They were fully informed from the baby's birth, and continue to be fully informed at every single doctor visit, that their baby only lives because of the twenty or so medications he is on. I guess one could also defend their actions by saying the child knows and feels nothing in any meaningful way, and so it is harmless to indulge the parents, and they've a right to keep him alive. My standpoint is that this child, as limited as he is, should be allowed the simple human dignity of the right to pass away naturally.
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Offline Sleepy

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Re: Euthanasia Controversy
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2014, 08:01:29 am »
He didn't really specify what classifies a birth defect worthy of euthanasia, so I'm thinking he could be referring to any disease that would make the child even slightly different.

I'll hazard a guess that anencephaly counts as bad enough.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMlVNFpzKNI" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMlVNFpzKNI</a>

The complete willful ignorance of parents about what anencephaly actually entails is what bothers me most about he video. Having no brain means it literally has a consciousness level slightly higher than a plant, and likely somewhere below the Box Jellyfish*.

*The box jellyfish is actually unusual among jellyfish in that it has a very basic brain or brain like nervous system. They're also famous for being one of the most poisonous species.

This is actually one of the cases that comes to mind when I think about instances where euthanasia would be appropriate. I don't even want to re-watch the video because seeing a child in that state is beyond disturbing, and it's rather angering that his family is keeping him alive for what seems like purely selfish reasons.

I'm still on the fence about euthanasia.

Because of potential misuse, or for some other reason?

He's an ass. Mitloehner apparently did not narrow his definition of "birth defect" to any degree acceptable for civilized people.

As it is, I can think of only one hospital guideline that would make ethical sense, perhaps, in cases of babies born with very severe malformations. Continue palliative supportive care, including nutrition and if needed, pain medication, until they pass away from the complications caused by the defects. Typically, though, depending on where the child is born, hospitals are either obligated to schedule surgeries and invasive procedures to try and correct serious malformation problems, or the parents can demand that extraordinary measures be taken. I feel like there can be many instances where such aggressive treatment is in itself a great cruelty.

Would you prefer children in such circumstances to die due to complications from their defects, rather than having them euthanized? Obviously we don't have such a system in place (and probably never will), but I'm just curious as to whether you oppose it. After all, it can prolong the child's pain (painkillers aren't perfect) and forcing the parents to endure that is cruel.

Frankly, I'm not sure how to implement a law for euthanasia whose wording would limit its use to the most extreme cases. What criteria would the child have to meet? Lack of a brain? A certain level of incurable pain?
« Last Edit: June 22, 2014, 08:07:06 am by Sleepy »
Guys, this is getting creepy. Can we talk about cannibalism instead?

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Offline mellenORL

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Re: Euthanasia Controversy
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2014, 11:58:15 am »
Sleepy:
Quote
Would you prefer children in such circumstances to die due to complications from their defects, rather than having them euthanized? Obviously we don't have such a system in place (and probably never will), but I'm just curious as to whether you oppose it. After all, it can prolong the child's pain (painkillers aren't perfect) and forcing the parents to endure that is cruel.

Frankly, I'm not sure how to implement a law for euthanasia whose wording would limit its use to the most extreme cases. What criteria would the child have to meet? Lack of a brain? A certain level of incurable pain?
I would prefer the option of euthanasia being on the table, and definitely for cases such as those. It's a really difficult thing to even contemplate what might lead to that, in light of the current socio-political barriers to progress in that direction here in the States. Medical ethics review boards already try to deal with situations like this, both for severe malformation at birth, and severe, essentially untreatable illness and mortal injury in older patients. The litigious nature of our society regarding what are seen as questionable medical practices in these cases is nearly as bad a block to humane treatment as are religiously influenced political objections. American society is just not ready to really face cold hard facts for the sake of providing genuine mercy. Our laws still reflect the, "It is in God's hands" cop-out. De facto cruelty is allowed for the sake of avoiding the least possibility of future abuse, like the enforced "eugenicide" Mitloehner wants.

As it is, standard hospice care is based in the total disconnect of; it's okay to let a terminal patient die of dehydration and starvation, but no, we cannot euthanize, even though from the patient's standpoint, that would be the kinder thing to do, by far. I felt anguish watching my mother and my aunt die under hospice care. They each had DNR's on file and orders to cease prolongation or intervention, but because of the way the system is set up today, my aunt suffered in fear and still had pain over and above what the maximum legal morphine dosage could dull, until she finally lapsed into coma. My mother was fortunate, in that her brain was so damaged by the time hospice was allowed to take over, that she was oblivious to any mental suffering or pain. She had steadily deteriorated downward to a 5 on the Glasgow Coma Scale, where a score of 15 is normal consciousness and brain function.

It does seem that lacking any meaningful brain function, or being born with just a barely functional brain stem, is a reasonable criteria for ethically administered euthanasia. And there are several conditions, the worst I can think of being deep brain, or thalamic damage, leading to unending and completely untreatable agony, where euthanasia should be regarded as being ethically necessary.
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