To ask why we apply end of life compassion logic to dogs but not humans

(145 Posts)
NorthernRosie Sun 17-Jan-16 18:31:03

It struck me again today (whilst reading Tim Dowling's Guardian column!) that many people seem happy enough to believe that it's kinder to put down animals at the end of their lives to end suffering but when it comes to our own species the majority argue against people's right to make that decision.

After all an animal can't actually make the decision but a competent human adult can.

Why is this?

MorrisZapp Sun 17-Jan-16 18:34:19

I think at present the majority would like to see decriminalisation of assisted suicide. It's inevitable a change in the law will come, just not clear when.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Sun 17-Jan-16 18:37:23

Legally, a dog is the possession of it's owner. So if the owner consents to the dog being put down, that's all that is required. In some circumstances, a vet can seize the dog instead (for example, if there was no good reason to put the dog down), but usually, the dog is a possession, and if the owner decides to put it down, that's what happens.

A human belongs to no-one. Nobody has the right to decide that somebody else should die. Giving anyone that right is hugely legally complex - it's very difficult to create a system that isn't open for abuse. The system needs to be sure that the person themselves is of sound mind, that they know what they are asking for, that they are under no pressure, that they aren't acting to prevent themselves becoming a burden. Essentially, a third party has to assess the want and decide whether 1) the person actually wants to die, and 2) that want is a good decision.

You can't really compare the two from a legal standpoint.

SoHereItIs2016 Sun 17-Jan-16 18:41:29

I think that there are some very powerful people whose 'christian' beliefs, eg that only 'God' has thrower to give and take life away, lead them to fight hard for the status quo to be maintained.

Also there is a body of opinion who say that it will lead to the ill and disabled in society feeling like they should end their lives to reduce 'inconvenience' to family etc, or. Whom might be paid under pressure to do so.

Not sure why this myth is still purported as it has been shown not to have been the case in countries where assisted suicide is legal and legally controlled.

Having seen people die in pain and distress (I am a health care professional, and despite medical advances not everyone can get a 'good' death) I am firmly in favour of people being able to chose, in very tightly controlled situations, to die before their illness becomes unbearable to them.

It always confuses me that as individuals we are allowed to chose when to procreate, can chose to terminate an unwanted foetus/baby but are not allowed full bodily autonomy over ourselves in death.

SoHereItIs2016 Sun 17-Jan-16 18:43:16

But Anchor, surely humans should d do have more not less rights over themselves than animals in law. And people are already assessed as to steer they have capacity to eg refuse life sustaining treatment, it is perfectly do-able so why can't that be tended to as situated suicide?

BestZebbie Sun 17-Jan-16 18:43:55

What Anchor said, and also, humans have capacity to consider the future in abstract terms and fear death in the abstract. They can also be aware of cultural practices and norms. This means that there is an element of potential suffering/fear introduced if a human thinks they might be 'put to sleep' which a dog wouldn't and couldn't experience.

stampedingthefields Sun 17-Jan-16 18:43:56

Euthanasia will become legal within a decade I predict.

EponasWildDaughter Sun 17-Jan-16 18:48:01

the majority argue against people's right to make that decision.

I'm not sure the majority to, tbh. I don't think anyone i know would argue against it. It's a slow train, but we are getting there.

EponasWildDaughter Sun 17-Jan-16 18:48:27

do not to

larrygrylls Sun 17-Jan-16 18:48:32

This is not a legal argument. The law should follow the morality or ethics of the situation.

Just about any right is 'subject to abuse', especially if not managed properly. It is becomingly increasingly obvious to most people that, a person in pain towards the end of their lives, should have the right to be assisted in painlessly ending their lives at a time of their choosing.

It seems to me that this would, on the whole, lengthen lives as a sick person would know they had this option until the last day, rather than planning desperate trips to clinics in Switzerland or Belgium while they can still travel.

Palliative care is very variable and even the very best is not always effective. I see few rational arguments against assisted suicide of the terminally ill.

Iliveinalighthousewiththeghost Sun 17-Jan-16 18:53:59

That's something I'd like to know as well. They'll leave a human and indeed their families here to suffer, but they'll and yes quite rightly put an animal out of its misery. Ive never understood the logic.
Plus this sounds selfish but theyre (The government) are not being fair to the families of these poor suffering people. Who have to provide around the clock care, and watch their loved ones suffer, I wouldn't want my dd looking after me. She's got her own life to lead. I chose to have her. She didn't ask to be born.
If I had no quality of life.. I'm afraid it would be tablet and whiskey time, hopefully by then euthenasia will be legal though.

Pico2 Sun 17-Jan-16 18:54:34

I've been wondering this recently. I have an elderly relative who is miserable, but would now be beyond making an assisted dying choice. Pretty much all of the family have said that they'd prefer to be dead than in that situation or condition. It's cruel.

VikingVolva Sun 17-Jan-16 18:57:16

Dogs do not have to be elderly and ill, or younger with a terminal condition.

They can be put down at any stage for any reason.

That is why I don't see this as a valid comparison.

Palliative and pain relief for humans is vastly better than for animals, which is another reason this is not a good comparison.

SoHereItIs2016 Sun 17-Jan-16 18:57:28

I agree Larry. We already have well defined processes for assessing people's capacity (to make any decision) and this route (Court of protection) or something that ran alongside this specialising in end of life decisions, could be put in place in a. Straightforward way.
The people who pursued assistance suicide would under current systems become some of the most closely assessed and supported people within the 'system'.

RudeElf Sun 17-Jan-16 19:00:01

Well i cant speak for anyone else but i fully support an individual's decision to end their own suffering. I believe there are many people who do.

Also, there are many people who are totally against euthanising animals even when it really is to end suffering.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHorrid Sun 17-Jan-16 19:00:45

Euthanasia will become legal within a decade I predict

I really hope so. I remember my grandad taking 3 days to die. It was horrible for him to go through and for everyone to watch.

SoHereItIs2016 Sun 17-Jan-16 19:00:46

Viking I'm afraid I have to differ, on the idea that pain and palliative relief is better for Humans. Animals do in fact tend to be pls way before they get to the stage that most humans who are terminally ill will be.

Some of the people Inhave cared for have been 'dying' for upwards of ten years, many have lives that cause them great pain and distress. Contrary to most (younger) people's beliefs, many people do reach a point where they feel there life is 'done' and look forward to death.

fakenamefornow Sun 17-Jan-16 19:11:10

prevent themselves becoming a burden

What's wrong with not wanting to become a burden to your family though? The last thing I would want would be for my children under extreme stress trying to look after me.

there are many people who are totally against euthanising animals

I've never met anyone against this, which of course isn't to say they don't exist.

AnthonyBlanche Sun 17-Jan-16 19:21:41

I know quite a few people who have been very distressed to see the final weeks and days of elderly dying relatives. I saw my own father's life being unnecessarily prolonged for over a week - he was mostly unconscious, clearly distressed and in pain when conscious, and there was absolutely no chance he would recover. The kindest thing to do would have been to give him a massive dose of morphine (or something else that would have allowed him to slip away) as soon as it was realised he was dying.

TheoriginalLEM Sun 17-Jan-16 19:24:48

Having assisted in the euthanasia of many animals (including my own), i can absolutely, hand on heart, say that it is absolutely right thing to do in the majority of cases. Obviously there have been times when i have felt the decision has been made too soon, or that the owner might be put into the position of having to make the decision based on financial considerations, but generally it is because people don't want their pets to suffer and that can no longer be prevented. .

Its something i always feel sad about, but never bad about.

I have often wondered if a dying animal knows it is dying? I would choose euthanasia over watching an animal die every time.

I don't feel the same way about euthanasia in people if i am honest with myself. I think anchordowndeepbreath summed it up for me. There are too many grey areas. I am not against it, it is one of those things i genuinely don't know the answer to. I try and put my own self into the position and its too much to comprehend - being in so much pain that i couldnt bear to live seems fairly straightforward if you know that pain is never going to stop, but never see my DD again? What if something changes? What if there's a cure?

What is "sound mind"? Is it being able to name the prime minister and count backwards from 20? Someone (who is not "physically" unwell) who is suicidal might not be considered to be in sound mind simply due to the fact that they want to end their own life, so foreign is it to most people. There most certainly would be an element of not wanting to burden my family too, its not like i could say to them, you know what, just leave me in the hospice and never visit again because they wouldnt be able to do that,, and if they did that is not fair to put that upon them, they will feel guilt.

So many questions and a very valid and interesting OP.

VoyageOfDad Sun 17-Jan-16 19:30:53

I think we apply end of life compassion to dogs because we kill animals everyday of the week, to eat them. Amongst other things.

Other countries offer the service to humans, personally I think it is humane to do so but it requires an awful lot of red tape, as it should.

I agree it will likely come into play here in the next decade, though economics rather than humanity will motivate the change.

TheoriginalLEM Sun 17-Jan-16 19:37:38

I am not sure putting an animal to sleep is anywhere near the same as killing an animal (albeit humanely) for food. It is a real emotional wrench for people and I have watched people break their hearts over the decision, it is not taken lightly. Not being snarky, i just don't see the comparison there voyage.

Theoretician Sun 17-Jan-16 19:42:06

humans have capacity to consider the future in abstract terms and fear death in the abstract. They can also be aware of cultural practices and norms. This means that there is an element of potential suffering/fear introduced if a human thinks they might be 'put to sleep' which a dog wouldn't and couldn't experience.

This. Putting a dog to sleep and doing so for a human is completely different, because a human may be in fear of what's coming, and a dog will be oblivious.

Theoretician Sun 17-Jan-16 19:45:05

Sorry, it wasn't clear in the OP which human was going to make the decision. Someone deciding for them-self is not the same issue as someone else deciding for them, which was what the dog analogy suggested.

OttiliaVonBCup Sun 17-Jan-16 19:48:46

Putting a dog to sleep and doing so for a human is completely different, because a human may be in fear of what's coming, and a dog will be oblivious.

But very ofter the human is in fear of what is coming, if their death is prolonged and painful, so knowing the end will be fast and pain free will be a blessing.

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