domingo, 30 de octubre de 2016

BioEdge: Fighting over Brittany’s legacy

BioEdge: Fighting over Brittany’s legacy

Bioedge

Fighting over Brittany’s legacy
     
Brittany Maynard's mother, Deborah Ziegler, and her husband, Dan Diaz, at a memorial service   
Brittany Maynard was a 29-year-old woman whose 2014 YouTube video about her impending death was very influential in the campaign to legalise assisted suicide in California. Her charm and poise, turbocharged by a sophisticated public relations campaign by Compassion & Choices, made it seem like a sensible option to millions.

Now her husband and her mother are locked in a struggle over her legacy. Deborah Ziegler has just published a book about her daughter, Wild and Precious Life. It purports to offer “hope, empowerment, and inspiration to the growing tens of millions of people who are struggling with end-of-life issues”.

Brittany’s husband, Dan Diaz, has protested. He has posted a statement on Facebookrevealing that Brittany did not want her mother to tell her story and that she had appointed Diaz as the only person authorized to tell her story.

He complained that Ms Ziegler’s book is inaccurate and inappropriate and announced that he is working on a film about his wife to lobby for legislation “so that terminally ill individuals in her predicament will have the option of a gentle passing in their own state”.
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It appears that Canada has experienced a visitation from an “angel of mercy”, a media euphemism for a medical serial killer. Arrested this week, Elizabeth Wettlaufer allegedly killed eight patients in Ontario nursing homes since 2007. The Canadian media is describing her as one of Canada’s worst serial killers.
She faces stiff competition in other countries. In Italy, Daniela Poggiali, a nurse, was sentenced earlier this year over 13 deaths. In the US, Charles Cullen, a nurse. was sentenced in 2006 over the deaths of about 40 patients. In Germany Stephan Letter killed at least 29 patients in 2003 and 2004. And then there is Dr Harold Shipman, the quiet English doctor who killed 250 patients.
These horrors never seem to be mentioned when the legalization of euthanasia is being debated, but they should be. The existence of these mad “angels of mercy” demonstrates that some healthcare professionals feel compelled to kill the defenceless people entrusted to their care.
Legalisation creates a class of people who do the same thing but without the secrecy. In Belgium and the Netherlands, the bulk of the euthanasia business seems to be carried out by a handful of doctors. Some of them have killed scores of patients. What does that do to them? Why do they volunteer? Will there be more “angels of mercy” in jurisdictions where euthanasia is legal? These are all questions that need to be asked and answered. 


Michael Cook
Editor
BioEdge



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BioEdge
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