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    Tuesday, December 14, 2004

    Reader Mail: On euthanasia:

    I have been following you line on this troubling topic. We have been fortunate enough to travel to Europe and they do have a very different concept on end of life care. That topic would fill a number of pages.

    One issue you have not addressed is the strain on the care givers to carry out these life ending orders. We were faced with that issue when an older relative in the advance stages of dementia quit eating. The question became, do we insert a feeding tube? After a 30 minute discussion with the nurse/adminstrator concerning pain and other issues the answer was yes.

    Then an interesting thing happened, she thanked me on behalf of the staff. They are the ones that must carry out these orders. They are the ones that hear the dying person's moans and watch as they starve to death and suffer from not having fluids.

    Death came about six weeks later, but all involved knew we had done what was right in both letting nature take it course, but also providing a needed level of care.

    It is easy to give these orders when you do not have to deal with the reality of dealing with a living human being, it is difficult when you knew that person as a loving, productive member of society.

    Yes, and that's true of active euthanasia as well. The doctors who give the orders don't have to carry them out. The nurses who have to carry them out can assuage any guilt they might feel by telling themselves they're just carrying out orders. The lack of ultimate responsibility just makes it all that much easier psychologically. If the doctors who ordered the killing also had to administer the drugs, it would be much harder to implement involuntary euthanasia such as that in the Gronigen Protocol. After all, how do you look someone in the eye after you've just killed their baby? Anyone with a conscience couldn't.

    posted by Sydney on 12/14/2004 06:15:00 AM 0 comments


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