On the evening of April 20, 2000, Al Purdy drank a glass of Chilean wine laced with Rohypnol. Murphy’s Law offered one last demonstration of its quirky power: the wine was corked. He sipped it anyway, in the company of his love of almost 60 years. There was no rush, no timetable. The last piece of music he heard was Paul Robeson’s best rendition of “Ol’ Man River”—his favourite singer performing one his favourite songs. [more inside]
The Economist's Quality of Death Index for 2015 was published last week. It attempts to measure the quality of palliative care in 80 countries. The top three countries (in order) are Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. And the bottom three countries? Philippines, Bangladesh, and Iraq. Here is The Economist's summary and here is the full report.
California Legislature Approves Assisted Suicide [New York Times]
In a landmark victory for supporters of assisted suicide, the California State Legislature on Friday gave final approval to a bill that would allow doctors to help terminally ill people end their own lives. Four states — Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont — already allow physicians to prescribe life-ending medication to some patients. The California bill, which passed Friday in the State Senate by a vote of 23-14, will now go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who will roughly triple access to doctor-assisted suicide across the country if he signs it. Mr. Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian, has given little indication of his intentions.
Healthy 75-year old dies by assisted suicide in Switzerland. Gill Pharaoh's last blog post is here. She has written two books about carers.
Euthanasia for psychiatric patients was rare in the early years of the law, but patients complained that they were being unfairly stigmatized: psychic suffering, they argued, was just as unbearable as physical pain. Like cancer patients, they were subjected to futile treatments that diminished their quality of life. Dirk De Wachter, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Leuven and the president of the ethics commission for the university's psychiatric center, said that he reconsidered his opposition to euthanasia after a patient whose request he had rejected committed suicide. In 2004, she set up a camera in front of a newspaper office in Antwerp and set herself on fire.Rachel Aviv traveled to Belgium, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002, to report on the complications and consequences that surround the practice of assisted suicide and euthanasia for psychiatric patients: The Death Treatment.
The Last Day of Her Life. When Cornell psychology professor Sandy Bem found out she had Alzheimer’s, she resolved that before the disease stole her mind, she would kill herself. The question was, when? [more inside]
In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled today that Canada's century-old legislation banning doctor-assisted suicide is unconstitutional. The decision is stayed for 12 months to allow for legal frameworks to be devised.
Sherwin Nuland, surgeon and award-winning author who challenged idea of dignified death, has died at age 83. The son of first generation immigrants, Nuland survived a troubled childhood and succeeded in medical school only to face near-paralyzing depression, for which he was successfully treated with electroconvulsive therapy (first-person TED talk). His award-winning book, "How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter", included realistic descriptions of the process of death and helped to frame the national debate on assisted suicide. [more inside]
As 60 year old Seattle native Jane Lotter fought endometrial cancer, she decided to write her own obituary. On July 18 Lotter "took advantage of Washington state's compassionate Death with Dignity Act and died peacefully at home" with her family. Her obituary closed with the line "Beautiful day, happy to have been here," which her husband had inscribed on buttons that were handed out at her August 4 funeral.
What happened next is that Pratchett collapsed. “I had to kneel on the back seat of the taxi and give him CPR,” Rob says. “It was fingers down throat stuff. He nearly died.” -- Extracts from an interview by Laurie Penny of Terry Pratchett reveal he nearly died and is planning to leave the Discworld in the hands of his daughter, Rhianna Pratchett. [more inside]
The British Columbia Supreme Court has struck down a ban on physician-assisted suicide, in a whopping 1415-paragraph decision. [more inside]
Terry Pratchett starts process to take his own life. Sir Terry Pratchett, the fantasy writer who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2008, said yesterday he had started the formal process that could lead to his own assisted suicide at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. The fantasy writer Terry Pratchett says he has received consent forms requesting assisted suicide but has not yet signed them. [Previously] [Previously]
How 2000AD artist and MS sufferer John Hicklenton chose to end his life: The Herald reports on the death of John Hinckleton - Pat Mills writes on his life. See some of his art here. [more inside]
'I looked into that camera. And I just said it.' Ray Gosling, a well-regarded UK journalist and activist investigated for mercy killing after an on-air confession, has been found guilty of "wasting police time" instead.
Before anybody gets a heart attack, he aten't dead. The Guardian has a new interview with Terry Pratchett, talking about his writing and state of health. [more inside]
"And maybe this is the time to share a secret that I've kept for quite a long time. I killed someone, once..." So begins BBC journalist Ray Gosling's televised confession in which he briefly describes the time he smothered his lover who was dying of AIDS. Police are now investigating.
Sir Terry Pratchett, the popular comical fantasy author who in 2007 revealed that he had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, will present today his ideas about having a tribunal set up to help those with incurable diseases end their lives with help from doctors.
On January 1st, the U.S. estate tax will disappear. For exactly one year. Then it will come back higher on Jan. 1, 2011. Will lots of old rich people die? [more inside]
Terry Pratchett: I'll die before the endgame
Doctor assisted suicide for the terminally ill, or those in chronic pain, is an issue that some find themselves opposed to. Dan Savage, of Savage Love fame, writes about the death of his mother and the implications of religious opposition to such measures.
Death's Midwife: Jon Ronson meets the Reverend George Exoo, controversial right-to-die activist. [more inside]
Why I helped my wife kill herself. When Michael Graham's wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, she made up her mind to die before she became completely immobile. Michael knew he would have to help her - even though it could land him in jail. (note: unless you're unlucky, this is quite likely the saddest story you'll read today)
21 assisted suicides in 2001. Physician assisted suicide, officially known as Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, has been used by 91 people since 1998. The Oregon Public Health Service has released its Annual Report, and the demographics are very interesting. The fear-mongering critics have been proved wrong in that it's not poor, uninsured, uneducated or minorities asking for this, yet the Bush administration and John Ashcroft are trying to nullify the law. Is physician assisted suicide wrong, and if so, why? Is it the business of the Federal government to interfere in a State issue such as this, and is this just another wedge of their pro-life agenda?
Assisted Suicide law in Oregon stuck down by feds. Voters have approved assisted suicide twice. But apparently John Ashcroft knows better than we do. . .