Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Assisted Stupidity

In Oregon, we have a certain level of compassion; this has led to the Death with Dignity Act. Basically what this says is, if you are dying of some horrible, crippling disease, and there's no hope of a cure -- no chance you are gonna survive it -- you can get a prescription for an overdose of barbiturates and leave before you die ugly.

I whole-heartedly support this law. It is humane. If your dog was dying of painful cancer, you would put him down to spare him the misery, but most places -- every place in this country except Oregon -- Grandma has to ride the train to the bitter end, no matter how terrible the station.

Me, I think I would fight to my last breath, and Death would have to drag me away kicking and screaming, but I would sure like the option if I realized I couldn't make it through. I am glad to know it is there.

This act was hard to get passed, and has several safeguards. The Feds have tried take it away from us. Not a lot of people use it. You have to have two doctors sign off, an attending and consulting. You have to put your request in writing, have witnesses who aren't going to inherit your estate, and you are supposed to be of sound mind and aren't supposed to be depressed -- without getting counseling.

So, in today's paper, there is a piece that says as many as a quarter of those who elect to take the shortcut to the big sleep are clinically depressed.

No fucking shit?

The duh-factor of this inane bit of knowledge is beyond reasonable belief. You have terminal cancer or ALS or something that is crumbling your bones every time you turn over in your death bed. You have months, maybe weeks, left on your clock before you punch out. You think you might be depressed?

Can you imagine that you would not be?


Here's the catch: Being depressed and making a decision in that mind-set means you don't qualify under the terms of the law.

You are supposed to get counseling so that you feel better about it, which then qualifies you to get the prescription, only, since you feel better about it, why, you might choose not to do it. Whatever is killing you is the same, it's still gonna get you, but you aren't allowed to be depressed by it. You are going to be taking the forever dirt nap, but -- you have to be okay with that before they will let you opt out.

Every time I think we have plumbed the depths of stupidity, I find that I am once again wrong. No, no, that's pretty stupid, but wait! -- any second now, somebody will do something stupider. Trust me on this.


Michael said...

I quote (God help me) from Wikipedia:

"’Catch 22’ — the twenty-second of the guidelines used by military surgeons to “catch” those falsely claiming to be insane — is that an insane person should not believe or suspect that they are insane. Thus, to be recognised as insane, a person must not ask for an evaluation, because doing so implicitly shows that they suspect themselves to be insane. But, if a person does not ask for an evaluation, they cannot be recognised as insane because the evaluation is the method by which such recognition would occur. Thus, nobody can ever classify themselves as insane (even if they genuinely are), and thus nobody may ever use an insanity diagnosis to escape flying combat missions.

“... the same regulations also stipulate that (because flying combat missions is so dangerous) any sane person would not willingly fly combat missions. Thus, any person who flies missions must be insane and thus should only need to be evaluated in order to be excused from flying. However, because requesting an evaluation is a sign of sanity, no pilots are grounded for insanity.”

Art doesn't imitate life; life parodies art.

Anonymous said...

Best Sign Ever. Seen in the gas station/post office/ general store of Shaniko, Oregon:

Oregon allows concealed handguns
Oregon allows assisted suicide
Anyone robbing this store will be assumed to have requested assistance