Grim reading, I fear, for New Year’s Day, but the (London) Daily Mail has a report here on the evolution of the ‘Liverpool Pathway’, a National Health Service procedure which “involves withdrawal of lifesaving treatment, with the [terminally] sick sedated and usually denied nutrition and fluids. Death typically takes place within 29 hours.”
The notion that allowing someone to die—even if heavily sedated—through starvation or thirst is somehow humane is grotesque. At some level a good number of these patients know what is going on, and often they do indeed suffer.
And then there’s this:
Up to 60,000 patients die on the Liverpool Care Pathway each year without giving their consent, shocking figures revealed yesterday. A third of families are also kept in the dark when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment from loved ones.
Despite the revelations, Jeremy Hunt last night claimed the pathway was a ‘fantastic step forward’.
So much for consent.
Naturally, anti-euthanasia vigilantes are up in arms over this news, but they would do better to ask themselves the extent to which their own pressure to keep patients alive regardless of what those patients themselves want has done to contribute the creation of this ‘pathway’.
Those opposed to empowering agonized patients to shape their own exit for themselves often talk darkly about a slippery slope. Greedy relatives, stingy governments and all that. Well, the individual being starved or dried-out to death (sometimes it seems without even the courtesy of being asked for his consent), not to speak of someone trapped in the coils of an excruciating disease from which he has no means to extricate himself, may well feel that he has already arrived at the bottom of the abyss.
Appalling. Simply appalling.
You are correct, as usual. The only reason euthenasia (in the West) is so painful is due to the “I know better than you” crowd that believes you should suffer as long as modern medicine will allow it. What I call, “the death phase” is the most expensive — and often the most painful — portion of our existence. Why not take a short cut??
The Religious Right cries about death panels. But is a quiet and tranquil death that costs 1% of a drawn out and pain-filled ending what we want for ourselves? Not me. From an electrician’s perspective, I want to be able to turn the switch off when I think it’s time. And I DO NOT want to pay for the power running to someone that’s alrady grounded.
I bet most (all?) of the 60,000 were beyond giving consent. Maintaining people in a hopeless vegetative state makes no rational sense.