UPDATE (10:21pm EST):
According to the blog Legal Insurrection, Sarah may have either gotten lucky, or may actually have known more than we gave her credit for. My money is on the former.
UPDATE 2 (6.6.11):
Sarah doubles down.
Laws governing suicide and prevailing thinking about it, especially in countries whose legal systems have roots in Greek, Roman and Judeo-Christian legal and intellectual traditions, have two threads in common.Here in the US, the issue is closely tied to Christian values and the pro-life movement. Although opinions vary somewhat from faith to faith, the general agreement among faiths which appose doctor-assisted suicide is that it violates the sanctity of life and interferes with the will of God.
They stigmatise the suicidal as unworthy and totally disregard personal autonomy. To Aristotle, committing suicide was immoral and robbed the state of one’s civic and economic contributions, therefore, an offence.
Modern laws, especially since the Industrial Revolution, have roots here. Society has a claim to an individual until death.
Plato argued people are property of the gods. Stick around until the gods decide otherwise. Christianity fits in this category, sacredness of all life, including vegetative one plus sinfulness of committing or attempting to commit suicide.
“I am not a hero...by my definition anyway. To me, anyone who does what should be done is not a hero. Heroes to me are very, very rare. And I still feel that I’m only doing what I, as a physician, should do… That doesn’t mean I’m more compassionate than anyone else, but there is one thing I am that many are not, and that’s honest.”Jack Kevorkian was an activist who risked everything he had to stand up for a patient's right to die with dignity. He helped to transform a notion into a movement, and into a debate about individual rights.
We are being stupid. We have been so successful in the past century at the art of living longer and staying alive that we have forgotten how to die. Too often we learn the hard way. As soon as the baby boomers pass pensionable age, their lesson will be harsher still...I live in hope - hope that before the disease in my brain finally wipes it clean, I can jump before I am pushed and drag my evil Nemesis to its doom, like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty locked in combat as they go over the waterfall.
In any case, such thinking bestows a wonderful feeling of power; the enemy might win but it won't triumph.
* * * * *
I hate the term 'assisted suicide'. I have witnessed the aftermath of two suicides, and as a journalist I attended far too many coroners' inquests, where I was amazed and appalled at the many ways that desperate people find to end their lives.
Suicide is fear, shame, despair and grief. It is madness.
Those brave souls lately seeking death abroad [Ed: in places where doctor-assisted suicide is legal] seem to me, on the other hand, to be gifted with a furious sanity. They have seen their future, and they don't want to be part of it.
* * * * *
I am enjoying my life to the full, and hope to continue for quite some time. But I also intend, before the endgame looms, to die sitting in a chair in my own garden with a glass of brandy in my hand and Thomas Tallis on the iPod - the latter because Thomas's music could lift even an atheist a little bit closer to Heaven - and perhaps a second brandy if there is time. Oh, and since this is England I had better add: 'If wet, in the library.'
Who could say that is bad? Where is the evil here?
* * * * *
The bravest person I've ever met was a young boy going through massive amounts of treatment for a very rare, complex and unpleasant disease. I last saw him at a Discworld convention, where he chose to take part in a game as an assassin. He died not long afterwards, and I wish I had his fortitude and sense of style.
I would like to think my refusal to go into care towards the end of my life might free up the resources for people such as him.
* * * * *
I have met Alzheimer's sufferers who are hoping that another illness takes them away first. Little old ladies confide in me, saying: 'I've been saving up my pills for the end, dear.'
What they are doing, in fact, is buying themselves a feeling of control. I have met retired nurses who have made their own provisions for the future with rather more knowledgeable deliberation.
From personal experience, I believe the recent poll [Ed: which revealed that more than three-quarters of people in Britain approve of assisted suicide for the terminally ill] reflects the views of the people in this country. They don't dread death; it's what happens beforehand that worries them.
Life is easy and cheap to make. But the things we add to it, such as pride, self-respect and human dignity, are worthy of preservation, too, and these can be lost in a fetish for life at any cost.
I believe that if the burden gets too great, those who wish to should be allowed to be shown the door.
In my case, in the fullness of time, I hope it will be the one to the garden under an English sky. Or, if wet, the library.
|Terry Pratchett, in the garden, with his brandy.|
A self-confessed atheist has become a believer after mocking God by sarcastically praying for his mother to win the lottery. However, his joke prayer was amazingly answered as the next day his mother won $1 million on the New York Lottery Sweet Million game.According to the report, 28-year-old Sal Bentivegna, who did not believe in God, told his mother to pray to her god to ask "for a million dollars." His mother, Gloria, a Catholic, would not do any such thing. Since his mother refused to, Sal mockingly 'prayed' the following: “God, I don’t know if you’re real or not, but if you are there, please let my mother win a million dollars.”
He testified, “I can’t shrug off that Jesus had a hand in it.”The odds of winning the New York Lottery Sweet Million game is 1 in 3.8 million. Two tickets would take it to 1 in 1.9 million. I'm not sure how many tickets are on a "lottery tree," but regardless, those are considerable odds.
“No pun intended, but it was a Godsend,” he said.
Gloria Bentivegna, reflecting on what had happened, is thankful to God for her winnings, but even more thankful for her son’s conversion. She said: “'God performed two miracles, a true miracle.”
By winning New York’s Sweet Million game, Gloria Bentivegna will now receive $50,000 every year for the next 20 years.