Pieter Hintjens is an author and programmer best known as the founder of the ZeroMQ project. He was recently diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. A Protocol for Dying is his latest and final blog post in which he reflects on how to interact with the terminally ill.
Pediatrician Hans Asperger is known worldwide for the syndrome he first diagnosed. The rest of his story – in Vienna during WWII – has only recently come to light: The Doctor and the Nazis
How smart animal shelters aim for zero kill. Some shelters are euthanizing far fewer animals than others, and it's not because they have more funding: they're adopting different, smarter practices, including feline Trap-Neuter-Return, emphasizing spay and neuter in communities, encouraging owner retention, and making adoptions easier. Initiatives like Target Zero and The Million Cat Challenge help make it possible for cities achieve greater live-release rates. "In five years, Jacksonville’s shelter went from saving less than 30 percent of its animals to saving 90 percent, including many more dogs than before."
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.
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.
How to Know When it’s Time to Euthanize Your Dog
The most important thing to be alert for is The Look. It’s capitalized because it is a Real Thing. At some point near the end of its life, your dog will make eye contact with you. There will be something about that particular eye contact that you will recognize when you see it. Your dog will tell you, as clearly as if they had it notarized, that they are ready to go.At Dear Prudence, Pet Euthanasia and Can I Lie About It?
...the subject of euthanizing her has come up at home and briefly in the vet’s office. Is this wrong? And if we decide to go down this path, am I obligated to be honest about why she was put down when relatives and friends ask?
A Life-Or-Death Situation. "As a bioethicist, Margaret "Peggy" Pabst Battin fought for the right of people to end their own lives. After her husband’s cycling accident, her field of study turned unbearably personal." Via.
The British Columbia Supreme Court has struck down a ban on physician-assisted suicide, in a whopping 1415-paragraph decision. [more inside]
A Death in Yellowstone: On the Trail of a Grizzly Bear. a gripping story and a well written article in Slate, by Jessica Grose. Includes a similarly remarkable photo feature. [more inside]
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.
Sir Ludovic Kennedy has died at the age of 89. Kennedy was a journalist, broadcaster and long standing campaigner against miscarriages of justice and the death penalty and for euthanasia. [more inside]
At the Toronto Humane Society, veterinarians say animals die suffering unnecessarily in their cages while pleas to euthanize them are dismissed. Dozens of staff, volunteers and veterinarians have quit in protest. ... A note written by a staff member or volunteer on the medical chart of a cat, animal ID A127495, admitted last fall, reads: "Died Oct 19 3:15 am. Gasped and jerked and cried last breaths, because there was no one in shelter to euthanize or treat. This is not humane." ... [THS president] Mr. Trow says he strives to keep euthanasia rates low for ethical reasons. “How can anyone suggest that, because he might be here longer than anyone would want, that it's better to put [a dog] down?” Mr. Trow asked. “I think that's a strange suggestion, don't you? You live here as long as you can.” Images (yes, they're disturbing.) Video of a puppy adopted out with a broken leg. The THS web site. [more inside]
Sheep and Ostriches Closed brothels. Banned books. Closed minds. Internet censorship. Australia, the land of the free.
Richard Horne, better known as Harry Horse, died this weekend. This news is more prominent in the UK than in the US, but Harry Horse (MySpace) was not only a writer and illustrator of children's books, but he also designed video games and drew striking political cartoons. In the 80's he played with a band called Swamptrash (listened to but unavailable on LastFM), whose other members eventually went on to form Shooglenifty. Tragically, Richard's wife Mandy developed Multiple Sclerosis, and eventually became confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak. Rather than live without her, he chose to help her die and then take his own life, possibly reigniting the discussion in the UK about euthanasia.
Last Saturday, a woman and her four-year-old son climbed a fence to get a closer look at two black bears in the care of the non-profit Maymont Foundation. Bear bites boy.
We Had to Kill Our Patients : while this may not hit the US press for some time, the UK's Mail on Sunday reports that doctors in New Orleans chose to euthanize patients who were dying in agony and had no chance of survival during the disaster of Hurricane Katrina.
On the role of government. The Houston Chronicle had a story (404 now) on then governor Bush's 1999 law giving hospitals the power to remove life support of the terminally ill. The decision hinges on the prognosis and, of course, the patient's ability to pay. The law recently gave power to the Texas Children's Hospital to remove the breathing tube of a 6-month old infant over his mother's wishes. What do people who support Bush's intervention in the Schiavo case think about Bush's Futile Care Law?
Interesting Lead..Were George Harrison and Fred Rogers terminally sedated?The hospice movement started in this country because people were dying badly, often in pain. I have personal experience that the family is given a bottle of morphine with a eye dropper and a hint.(MetaonlineJournalism - A subsection of MetaFilter (like MetaTalk) where stories or rumors that need further investigation, research, or verification are actively worked on by webloggers, ideally working together to determine the truth of the matter.)
Unspeakable conversations (NYTimes) (printer friendly). Controversial ethicist Peter Singer (previously mentioned 1, 2, 3, 4) advocates the euthanasia of severely disabled infants. In the referenced article from the NYT magazine, attorney and disability rights advocate Harriet McBride Johnson describes a genteel encounter and debate with a man who may have had her killed. Aside from confronting the central issue (as we surely shall!), Ms. Johnson also describes the difficult balance between her impressions of Prof. Singer the man, her loathing of his ideas, and the enmity toward both from her colleagues at Not Dead Yet. Have you ever tried to reconcile feelings so charged?
Kill Willy? The headline of this CNN story is a bit of hyperbole, since it's just one guy advocating euthenasia. But it's depressing enough that Keiko, the orca from the "Free Willy" films who was later released into the wild, has recently appeared on the Norwegian coast, apparently looking for human contact after getting dissed by his killer-whale brethren. God ...
Diane Petty, suffering from motor neurone disease, refused right to euthanasia by European Court. "Mrs Pretty, from Luton, who is paralysed from the neck down, had claimed the refusal breached the Human Rights Convention, which outlaws "inhuman or degrading treatment"."
Dutch Legalize Euthanasia "The Netherlands has become the first country in the world to legalise mercy killing after a controversial law on euthanasia came into force on Monday." While tolerated for nearly two decades, opponents are comparing the practice to Nazi Geramny. Is this a step forward for those living with severe pain and no hope in sight?
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?
Is John Ashcroft paying back the Christian right? Or is he simply enforcing existing laws? But then what about pursuing Eric Rudolph?
You be the judge Mercy killing? Perhaps. You be the judge and pass sentence after reading the facts that convicted the father.
Jack Kevorkian's lawyer in trouble. He made some negative comments about a few appeals court judges. Not while he was in court, but on a radio talk show. Even so, he could potentially lose his license. His partner said, "Since when is it improper to make comments that are critical of government officials?"
Offshore euthanasia - A pioneering Australian doctor has unveiled controversial plans to set up the world's first floating euthanasia clinic which would drop anchor off the Australian coast and administer lethal injections or drug dosages to terminally ill patients who wish to die in dignity. Certainly a unique way to circumvent the law!