Turning off life support

… it’s a difficult choice…

As you probably know already, my mom is a nurse — sure, she’s retired, but once a nurse always a nurse.

Mom and I have had long discussions about turning off life support.  Her position is that it isn’t morally the same as euthanasia because the illness is doing the killing.

I say it’s a choice, just like the choice to inject someone with a lethal dose of pain medication.

Oddly enough, we don’t disagree on the action — we don’t think that anybody should suffer.  We don’t think it’s a good idea to “let God decide”… or anything like that.  I know this because she and I made the decision to turn off Grandpa’s life support.  I’ll tell you about that in another post, or in class…

The core of the question is whether or not the person’s “life” is a “good” one.  There are many difficult cases, if the person is confused a lot but not in pain — for example, their biographical life is mostly over, should they be “put out of their misery”, like we would a pet?

Another way that this decision is difficult is when the person hasn’t been clear about their wishes.  At some point later, I’ll post about my “death pact” with Andy.  In a weird way it’s a foundational principle of our partnership…

For now, struggle with these questions — what if the situation is ambiguous, do you let the person keep on kicking or do you decide enough is enough and terminate care?  Can there be a “default” action in this case?

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