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Author Topic: Pagan stances on euthanasia?  (Read 7044 times)

Nautilus

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Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« on: October 24, 2014, 08:08:04 am »
I'm curious about something.  There have been a few news articles recently about euthanasia and assisted suicide.  I know the Christian position of Just Say No, and I've read comments various places by people whose religions were not specified about going through the dying process (or living with an untreatable illness) as necessary for spiritual growth or working off karma etc.  (Although I have some doubts about how much spiritual growth someone is going to accomplish when kept alive against their will—or with dementia.)  So I was wondering if any of the various pagan religions had a viewpoint on this.  Is there a religious duty to go on living until the bitter end?  What about non-terminal illnesses, and where do you draw the line?   Or is it entirely the choice of individuals?

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Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2014, 08:15:31 am »
Quote from: Nautilus;163364
Is there a religious duty to go on living until the bitter end?

None that I'm aware of in Hellenic Paganism. There might be in some forms of Wicca, those that take the Rede as a literal command top "harm none". I'm not sure about Pagan religions.
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Fausta

Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2014, 08:20:58 am »
Quote from: Nautilus;163364
Is there a religious duty to go on living until the bitter end?  What about non-terminal illnesses, and where do you draw the line?   Or is it entirely the choice of individuals?

 
Quoting Liber OZ:
Quote
1. Man has the right to live by his own law—
    to live in the way that he wills to do:
    to work as he will:
    to play as he will:
    to rest as he will:
    to die when and how he will.


So, there's no duty to live to the bitter end and where the individual has had enough of physical and/or mental pain is up to the individual to decide.

Materialist

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Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2014, 09:46:55 am »
Quote from: Nautilus;163364
 Or is it entirely the choice of individuals?


You're forgetting criminal codes. In many states euthanasia is illegal, so individual choice is prohibited-unless you want to be convicted of murder. In areas where euthanasia is permitted, the decision is one between patient, doctor, living wills, and primary care givers.

Jack

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Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2014, 02:02:17 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;163423
You're forgetting criminal codes. In many states euthanasia is illegal, so individual choice is prohibited-unless you want to be convicted of murder. In areas where euthanasia is permitted, the decision is one between patient, doctor, living wills, and primary care givers.
And I for one am grateful to live in a state where that is a decision I can make with my doctor and my spouse without being required to suffer.
Hail Mara, Lady of Good Things!
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Emma Eldritch

Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2014, 02:55:04 pm »
Quote from: Nautilus;163364
I'm curious about something.  There have been a few news articles recently about euthanasia and assisted suicide.  I know the Christian position of Just Say No, and I've read comments various places by people whose religions were not specified about going through the dying process (or living with an untreatable illness) as necessary for spiritual growth or working off karma etc.  (Although I have some doubts about how much spiritual growth someone is going to accomplish when kept alive against their will—or with dementia.)  So I was wondering if any of the various pagan religions had a viewpoint on this.  Is there a religious duty to go on living until the bitter end?  What about non-terminal illnesses, and where do you draw the line?   Or is it entirely the choice of individuals?

 
My mother was a geriatric nurse for years, and growing up she would sometimes say regarding end of life that "if it ever gets really bad, you have to go out and get me a whooooole load of drugs and leave them with me so I can take em all at once."

So basically I was raised to believe - and I do - that people can make their own decisions regarding their deaths.

(My mother, it should be noted, also wants me to steal her corpse, put it on a boat, and light it on fire. She is apparently determined to make sure I am arrested in the event of her death.)

Valentine

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Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2014, 03:29:16 pm »
Quote from: Nautilus;163364
I'm curious about something.  There have been a few news articles recently about euthanasia and assisted suicide.  I know the Christian position of Just Say No, and I've read comments various places by people whose religions were not specified about going through the dying process (or living with an untreatable illness) as necessary for spiritual growth or working off karma etc.  (Although I have some doubts about how much spiritual growth someone is going to accomplish when kept alive against their will—or with dementia.)  So I was wondering if any of the various pagan religions had a viewpoint on this.  Is there a religious duty to go on living until the bitter end?  What about non-terminal illnesses, and where do you draw the line?   Or is it entirely the choice of individuals?

 
I don't know of any widespread or authoritative pagan stances on the euthanasia issue, just as opinions vary broadly among people of other religions (though, as you've noted, some denominations have official stances).  I know, for me, my strong theological position is that death is not evil, that dying is not bad, that there is such a thing as a good death, and that it's better to have a good death than a bad death.  While I'm wary of euthanasia being over-applied--for instance, to people with disabilities whose consent is questionable, or in cases where someone's suffering could be alleviated more straightforwardly by people not being jerks--I'm a strong supporter of having it as an option.  If a person wants control over the hour of their death and cessation of suffering, wants to die at home with loved ones, etc., I would consider it a religious obligation to support them in that.  So long as we have strong controls to make sure it's what the dying person absolutely wants, I am absolutely in favor.
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Nautilus

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Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2014, 04:42:25 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;163366
None that I'm aware of in Hellenic Paganism. There might be in some forms of Wicca, those that take the Rede as a literal command top "harm none". I'm not sure about Pagan religions.

 
Quote from: Fausta;163368
Quoting Liber OZ:


So, there's no duty to live to the bitter end and where the individual has had enough of physical and/or mental pain is up to the individual to decide.


Thanks for the info.
 
Quote from: Materialist;163423
You're forgetting criminal codes. In many states euthanasia is illegal, so individual choice is prohibited-unless you want to be convicted of murder. In areas where euthanasia is permitted, the decision is one between patient, doctor, living wills, and primary care givers.



I was interested in what the various religious positions are, but I wouldn't mind a discussion of whether it should be legal or not.  (My original question on the subject is curiosity about various religions, not looking for practical info for myself or family.)
 
Quote from: Jack;163433
And I for one am grateful to live in a state where that is a decision I can make with my doctor and my spouse without being required to suffer.


There are limits, though. In a lot of places you have to have less than six months left. So if you have Alzheimer's, you're kind of screwed. And some places bar people with depression, which I think is discriminatory. If someone has a history of depression and gets cancer, is that any reason they should be made to suffer more than a person without depression? I mean, I understand there could be concerns about a person's judgment, but…
 
Quote from: Mama Fortuna;163435
My mother was a geriatric nurse for years, and growing up she would sometimes say regarding end of life that "if it ever gets really bad, you have to go out and get me a whooooole load of drugs and leave them with me so I can take em all at once."

So basically I was raised to believe - and I do - that people can make their own decisions regarding their deaths.

(My mother, it should be noted, also wants me to steal her corpse, put it on a boat, and light it on fire. She is apparently determined to make sure I am arrested in the event of her death.)



Oh, my mother says she wants Exit Bag if she gets sick. And she wants to be cremated, but only in the normal way.:)
 
Quote from: Valentine;163436
I don't know of any widespread or authoritative pagan stances on the euthanasia issue, just as opinions vary broadly among people of other religions (though, as you've noted, some denominations have official stances).  I know, for me, my strong theological position is that death is not evil, that dying is not bad, that there is such a thing as a good death, and that it's better to have a good death than a bad death.  While I'm wary of euthanasia being over-applied--for instance, to people with disabilities whose consent is questionable, or in cases where someone's suffering could be alleviated more straightforwardly by people not being jerks--I'm a strong supporter of having it as an option.  If a person wants control over the hour of their death and cessation of suffering, wants to die at home with loved ones, etc., I would consider it a religious obligation to support them in that.  So long as we have strong controls to make sure it's what the dying person absolutely wants, I am absolutely in favor.

 
I'm disabled myself, and I'm not really worried about it. It sounds like in places where it gets legalized there are multiple specialists who need to evaluate a person, looking for signs they're being coerced. I'm a lot more worried that the doctors might use my disability as an excuse to deny me my right to choose. And I find it ironic that THIS is what society feels it needs to protect the disabled from. It took TWO YEARS of bureaucratic red tape to get all of my benefits, and society doesn't seem terribly concerned about that. But yeah, I agree that there do need to be safeguards.

MadZealot

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Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2014, 04:46:26 pm »
Quote from: Mama Fortuna;163435
So basically I was raised to believe - and I do - that people can make their own decisions regarding their deaths.

 
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EJay

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Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2014, 05:24:31 am »
Quote from: RandallS;163366
There might be in some forms of Wicca, those that take the Rede as a literal command top "harm none". I'm not sure about Pagan religions.

 
After working in a hospice for a few years as a pay-it-forward for my mom, I've seen that there are a lot worse things than death.  A LOT worse things.  I've come to believe that, at times, keeping someone alive is contraindicated in the "harm none" rede.

I do have problems with euthanasia--I go back to my hospice's motto:  "Every day of every life matters."

We didn't prolong life, but we would keep people comfortable (pain and symptoms) so that each day could matter.  Euthanasia, I think, cuts short the time of closure and the preparing for transition.

I'm with Dr. Kevorkian in letting the patients push the button.  I still have extreme guilt in deciding when my dog should have been euthanized--no one should bear the burden of deciding another human's death.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm on their side if life becomes too much to bear, but they have to be brave enough to make that decision and carry it through.

I can play both ends to the middle of this argument and all I've given you is my opinion.  As I'm a pagan, I speak for none but myself.  As I've been in hospice, I've seen death in so many different forms that I think there are alternatives to euthanasia and witnessing a peaceful death really does help the soul.

"Every day of every life matters."  I believe this as a panentheist.  There are so many options in palliative care that I don't think euthanasia is necessary.  I believe that all life is sacred--the biologist in me agrees--I save moths and spiders, but I will kill mice that poop on my silverware.  I never kill lightly but I will kill.

I won't kill a human because they're afraid and in pain.  That goes against everything I'm made of.  If someone chooses death on their own, they get to face whatever consequences of their choice that might exist in the hereafter and beyond, etc., but they have to push that button.  I won't.  That's one burden I will never carry for another human being and that comes from the deepest part of my pagan self!

As you can tell, I'm very passionate about death.  I believe we should all have a cause that we're willing to die for.  But with the option of palliative care, I don't think there is usually a need for euthanasia--the body knows when it's time to die.
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EJay

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Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2014, 05:44:42 am »
Quote from: EJay;163610
I believe we should all have a cause that we're willing to die for.  


Ha!!  That snuck in and was totally off-topic and didn't see it until after I posted.  Sorry 'bout that!

My point was that there's a time and place and death will find us all.  If we jump on a grenade to save a buddy's life or we push someone out from in front of a speeding car or we stand up to militants and get beheaded, then killing yourself means something.

Pain teaches many lessons.  If I was in horrible pain, either physical or mental, I would never ask someone else to carry the burden of my death.  If I choose to die, that's all on me.

Again, sorry, but I have a lot of opinions on death!  People love me at parties! :whis:
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Materialist

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Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2014, 11:56:49 am »
Quote from: EJay;163610

As you can tell, I'm very passionate about death.  I believe we should all have a cause that we're willing to die for.  But with the option of palliative care, I don't think there is usually a need for euthanasia--the body knows when it's time to die.


Unfortunately, that same care can prevent natural death. Modern technology can keep those born with congenital defects of vital organs, in advanced states of Alzheimer's, in comas and vegetative states alive for years who would normally, and in past eras, have died in a week or so. And even though you insist only the dying person can push the button, many people are unable to make this choice, or end their own lives, on their own because they are severely mentally and physically impaired.

Tenorbear2

Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2014, 01:49:57 pm »
Quote from: Nautilus;163364
I'm curious about something.  What about non-terminal illnesses, and where do you draw the line?   Or is it entirely the choice of individuals?


Both the Hippocratic Oath and the Wiccan Rede contain a "first do no harm" clause but when someone is terminally ill and suffering speeding up death is not harm - it's mercy. The idea that we can and must do anything and everything to overcome death even if we only manage to postpone the inevitable is a perversion of the Christian religion. Those Christians who have honestly confronted the illogic of this position have developed a merciful approach to terminal suffering. Reality check: We almost always administer large doses of depressant opiods to the moribund to relieve pain and the side effect is that it speeds the death process. Arguably, we are already practicing universal euthanasia under the guise of pain reduction because forcing humans/animals to suffer is just punative.  That having been said we must always be vigilant of a slippery slope of denying health care, delaying health care and forcing stress on the chronically ill such that we kill them out right. After 18 yrs. in health care I can attest to the reality that power, prestige and wealth determine the level of care you receive in the U.S. and those who don't have it are allowed to weaken, suffer and die. Even when you do have those if you have any level of dementia you can be ignored to death. I've done a lot of battles for friends, neighbors, my handicapped-adopted children and now my husband who is dying of kidney failure. We are in far more danger of dying of neglect than dying of over zealous euthanasia. Euthanasia, properly administered leaves the control in the hands of the dying or their appointed proxy. Neglect can push you right into morbidity in the first place. Fear the latter just long enough to realize we must ACT to stop it. Heavy emphasis on the "we" and "ACT".  Paganism in all it's stripes and colors is the basis of a morality as well as a spirituality. I can't imagine that any of our practices could lead any of us to condone the prolonging of mortal suffering, OR the negligent/deliberate causes of such mortality and suffering. We're a whole lot better than that.

Tenorbear2

Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2014, 02:01:03 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;163791
Unfortunately, that same care can prevent natural death. Modern technology can keep those born with congenital defects of vital organs, in advanced states of Alzheimer's, in comas and vegetative states alive for years who would normally, and in past eras, have died in a week or so. And even though you insist only the dying person can push the button, many people are unable to make this choice, or end their own lives, on their own because they are severely mentally and physically impaired.

 
Your point is excellent. This is one of the reasons that so many Christians are coming to realize that their original idea;  that humans are wrong for deciding the moment of death is not a logical or moral argument for forcing the moribund to suffer horrors. We have become very good at keeping nearly dead bodies barely alive just long enough to suck all the money out of the decedent's and families' bank accounts. When they run out of cash and have borrowed all they can then we announce that all is lost, pull the plugs and let them finally go. That's a pretty unspeakable cruelty and it's a fairly common practice in the U.S. All you have to do is demand that "they" DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING to keep someone alive - and be willing/capable to pay.  It sounds positively Faustian and in fact it is pretty closely related to B.T. Barnum's infamous quote, "There's a sucker born every minute and two to take him."  Not exactly a "moral" position or practice.

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Re: Pagan stances on euthanasia?
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2014, 11:04:48 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;163791
Quote from: EJay;163610
As you can tell, I'm very passionate about death.  I believe we should all have a cause that we're willing to die for.  But with the option of palliative care, I don't think there is usually a need for euthanasia--the body knows when it's time to die.


Unfortunately, that same care can prevent natural death.

 
You appear to be unclear on what palliative care refers to, Materialist.

While the concerns you raise are genuine, they are not 'that same care' as EJay was referring to.

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