Friday, February 23, 2007

The right to die?

A 32-year-old motorcycle accident victim has had enough of life-sustaining treatment, which offers no relief or cure, and wants it turned off. Catholics not happy.

His name is Janusz Switaj from Silesia and he is attached to a life support system all day, since his accident 14 years ago which left him paralyzed and in pain. He needs attention from his parents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

His care is a two-person job and when one of his parents dies Janusz has requested that doctors disconnect his life support system and let him pass away.

Of course euthanasia is against catholic teaching, but over 50 percent of Poles asked in various opinion polls say that they support it, in principle.

But Poland is not Holland, and the ‘right to die’ is not going to go into the Polish constitution anytime soon. And should it anyway? I have heard of the ‘right to life’ – but should the right to death be a basic human right? Hmm, it’s sounds like a oxymoron to me...…

Janusz has his own web site, see it here.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Should "the right to death be a basic human right"?

You're asking a question that can not and will not ever be answered in a simple black or white answer. This comes down to individual morality. Where I feel it's a basic human right for a death with dignity, many other would 100% disagree with me.

I personally feel that it's every person's right to die with dignity. I would not consider what this gentleman has as a "life", especially seeing as though he cannot even breathe without the assistance of a life support system. I just hope this doesn't turn into another circus like what happened in America with the Schiavo spectacle.

But as per usual, if it becomes a major issue in Poland, I'm sure either the church or the ducks will step in to enforce the good ol' Catholic doctrine for the good of everybody.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Oops!!! Sorry about the 2 posts...I accidently clicked twice!!!

Brad Zimmerman said...

Of course one should have the right to die with some semblance of dignity. The only reason anyone ever argues about this is because they can. E.g.: they are not on hideous life support 24/7/365.

14 years being conscious and on life support ...that's like a goddamned jail sentence. Murderers get less time in jail than that and under better conditions.

It's a ridiculous situation anyway. What if there's a power outage? Whoops, this guy dies. Is that an act of God? What if someone simply forgets to pay the electricity bills? Also an act of God or assisted suicide?

Ridiculous.

beatroot said...

‘Poeple should have the right to die with dignity’…it does seem like a no-brainer. But once the ‘right’ is given to die, then it has to be applicable to everyone. The right to life is a basic human right that should be applied equally if it has any meaning at all.

So, as Mick Hume wrote:

If euthanasia is seen as a question of individual rights, then where do you draw the line? How can you allow a human right to some but deny it to others? Who can say whether or not an individual is facing, as Dutch law insists they must be, ‘unbearable, interminable suffering’?

A right death is not the same as a right to life. It isn’t a right.

geez said...

So Brad and Anon, you're willing to pull the plugs (given the legal license to do so)?

geez said...

And extrapolating from BR's comments, some people who are quite healthy may see their lives as essentially "unbearable, interminable suffering."

Redwine said...

What a mess. Otherwise Catholicism does accept passive euthanasia (is frequent, but impossible when the case has publicity). Are such cases passive or active euthanasia? Unfortunately, right to die cases are right to life cases(whether we like it or not). And there is no "right to dignity".

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

Euthanasia goes on all the time; decisions are made between doctors and patients, family and doctors, and I have nothing against that.

What I am arguing against is that we should legally and constitutionally have the RIGHT to die – as if it’s some human right.

If we did then that would demean the rights we already have: the right to free speech, the right to free assembly, the right to vote…

…different things entirely

geez said...

BTW, Catholic Church teaching is not opposed in every situation to the removal of all forms of life support - as redwine notes.

Harry said...

Small point but catholic teaching would most certainly support the right to choose to die. The Catholic church of course is another matter.

As Lepper would say "Why is everybody talking about the youth in Asia? They're great prostitutes but they have nothing to do with the church."

geez said...

For a thoroughly non-Catholic viewpoint with an emphasis on disabled rights, check out Not Dead Yet's website (taken from the line in Monty Python's In Search of the Holy Grail):

http://www.notdeadyet.org/

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

Beatroot,

Recently, you seem to set up false alternatives: Augustow bypass OR the Rospuda wetlands; life on a life support system OR right to death.
It might be living in Poland that does it - both the government and ordinary people there are extraordinarily skilled at demagoguery and false alternatives (remember "Nice or death"?)

beatroot said...

Fink-nottle
These are not ‘false alternatives. As to the environment debate – sometimes decisions have to be made. Greenpeace and the like want less economic growth because they think that human economic activity is harming the planet. I thin k that we need more economic growth and sometimes ‘nature’ needs to be subordinate to that goal.

The ‘right to decide whether you want doctors to turn your life support off’ involves laws, morals, ethics…there is a right answer and a wrong one.

That is not ‘false alternatives – it’s about ‘right and wrong’ answers - lots better than relativism.

Anonymous said...

Church of England: Cake or death!

(Apologies, Mr. Izzard.)

Michael Farris said...

"I think that we need more economic growth and sometimes ‘nature’ needs to be subordinate to that goal"

Is this why you ignore the fact that for the majority of people against the Rospuda bypass it's not a question of Rospuda or nothing but Rospuda or a better alternative?

I'm against building a bypass through Rospuda but not against a bypass per se and reasonable alternatives have been given.

As for this case: Would you think I'm being really cynical if I express the suspicion that one goal of this guy might be to ensure adequate healthcare for himself? Saying you want to kill yourself is a sure way of bringing forth all sorts of offers of care that might not be forthcoming if you want to live....

beatroot said...

Mike. My point about Rospuda is that environmentalism - and I am talking about the ideology that drives organizations like greenpeace - are anti-economic growth. They think there should be LESS growth and LESS people.

As for janusz - you may be right. I simply don;t know...again we can only have a discussion about generalities and not spwecifics...

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