In one of the last photographs my family took of my grandmother, she looks as if she’s been in a fistfight. Jean Bass Tinsley is lying in a hospital bed in Athens, Georgia, wearing a turquoise button-up shirt and staring blankly at the camera. A bandage obscures her fractured skull, along with the bridge of her bloodied nose. She is 91 years old.
My grandmother essentially did this to herself. In June 2013, she fell out of her wheelchair headfirst, after ignoring her caregivers’ warnings not to get out of bed without help. Earlier that year, she’d broken both of her hips, in separate falls. Before that, her pelvis-all while trying to do what for most of her life she’d managed just fine on her own: walk.
In her last year, dementia crept into my grandmother’s mind. The staff at her long-term-care facility plotted ways to protect her from herself. It’s against the law in Georgia to restrain patients in such facilities, so they lowered her bed to the floor and put a pad down next to it. They even installed an alarm that went off if she left her mattress. My grandmother disabled the alarm, moved the pad and freed herself, repeatedly. In the end, she was both too weak and too strong. [Full text]
The Associated Press
PARIS — One French court acquitted a doctor of poisoning seven terminally ill patients while another ordered physicians to suspend treatment for a comatose man, while Britain’s top court said the country’s ban on assisted suicide may be incompatible with human rights.
The decisions of the past few days are fueling the arguments of Europeans who say the duty of doctors is to end the suffering of those beyond treatment.
But emotions run high on all sides around the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide, as is shown by the bitter case of the comatose Frenchman, Vincent Lambert. Hours after the French court sided with his wife in ordering an end to treatment, the European Court of Human Rights blocked the move at the request of his parents, in a rare late-night ruling. . . [Full text]
A panel of 18 people deemed representative of society, appointed by the French national ethics committee had decided that euthanasia/assisted suicide is a “legitimate right” for the dying or terminally ill. The ethics committee had previously advised the French government against legalizing the procedures because of concern that it would be “dangerous” for society. French President Francois Hollande is reported to be planning to bring forward a bill. [Reuters]
Professor Didier Sicard has produced a report for the French government recommending that euthanasia should remain illegal. He also recommends that “accelerated death” should be allowed in three kinds of circumstances, and news reports describe the proposals as legalizing assisted suicide.[UPI; France 24 International]