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TOPIC: euthanasia


When Killing Your Mother Is An Extreme Act Of Love

News of the acquittal in Italy of a man who confessed to killing his 92-year-old disabled mother comes just as the country is discussing the reversal of a law that bans assisted suicide. For La Stampa, Luigi Mancone argues that legislators cannot leave assisted suicide in a grey zone.


The story of Giovanni Ghiotti — a 53-year-old from the province of Asti, in northern Italy, who confessed to having killed his 92-year-old disabled mother in order to avoid her further suffering — is not easy to hear. Ghiotti was later acquitted by a court in Asti.

It is a story that does not seem to belong to modern, secular, capitalist society, in which the value of human life can gradually lose its meaning, and the quality and dignity of existence seem to be measured according to health criteria of efficiency and productivity.

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Why The Right To Die Is Expanding Around The World

Euthanasia and assisted suicide laws are still the exception, but lawmakers from New Zealand to Peru to Switzerland and beyond are gradually giving more space for people to choose to get help to end their lives — sometimes with new and innovative technological methods.

The announcement last month that a “suicide capsule” device would be commercialized in Switzerland, not surprisingly, caused quite a stir. The machine called Sarcophagus, or “Sarco” for short, consists of a 3D-printed pod mounted on a stand, which releases nitrogen and gradually reduces the oxygen level from 21% to 1%, causing the person inside to lose consciousness without pain or a sense of panic, and then die of hypoxia and hypocapnia (oxygen and carbon dioxide deprivation).

While active euthanasia is illegal in Switzerland, assisted suicide is allowed under certain conditions and under the supervision of a physician, who has first to review the patient’s capacity for discernment — a condition that Sarco aims to eliminate. “We want to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method themselves,” Australian doctor Philip Nitschke, the machine’s creator, told news platform SwissInfo. Some argue that this is against the country’s medical ethical rules while others expressed concerns about safety.

But Nitschke says he found the solution: an online AI-based test, which will give a code to the patient to use the device if he passes.

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"My Body, My Choice" Counts For Vaccines — Not Just Abortion And Euthanasia

The decision not to get vaccinated against coronavirus is a personal one, a matter of individual freedom. But the fact that not everyone sees it this way shows the extent to which the pandemic has politicized the private sphere.


BERLIN — I don't know about you, but for the libertarian in me, at least, the past few weeks in Germany have been very difficult. Although I have long since reconciled myself to the idea that we need a certain measure of law, order and solidarity to enable us to live together in society, I strongly believe that we should keep state intervention in the lives of citizens to a minimum.

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The Human Thing: When It's Not About “Bioethics”

In the place of narcissistic and subjective dignity wrongly invoked by procreation militants, we need a return to the transcendent and objective dignity of human nature.


RENNES — Blame our laziness or the traps of euphemism, but we've grown accustomed to using the timid term of "bioethics' to debate certain subjects that are, in reality, philosophical and moral meta-norms that govern us all — that is, none other than the singular and irreducible dignity of the human species, as opposed to fauna, flora and objects. The humanist philosophy at the source of what we call "human rights," no stranger to the Judeo-Christian heritage, is based on the premise that a human being is endowed with conscience and reason, and the fact that this particular ability distinguishes us from the rest of the living and non-living world.

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Angélica María Cueva Guarniza

Euthanasia In Colombia, Legal But Still Denied

While Colombian justice has ruled to allow euthanasia for patients who ask for it, physicians are reticent to apply the health ministry's "vague" norms.

BOGOTÁ - While euthanasia is now legal in Colombia, when faced with individual patients doctors still hesitate on how to implement the health ministry's relevant protocol. Take the case of 79-year-old José Ovidio González. Days ago, after five years of cancer that required a range of painful treatments that have destroyed parts of his face, he wrote down on paper that he no longer wanted to live and that his family supported his decision to be put to death.

González would be the first patient to undergo euthanasia under the new protocol the health ministry issued in April to regulate assisted death. Only, 30 minutes before being carried out, his first appointment with death was cancelled earlier this week. On Thursday, the Occidente cancer clinic where he's being treated announced that the euthanasia procedure was back on schedule, though the family asked that the date and time be kept private.

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Pierre Labainville

Take 5: Bioethics Battles Around The World

From abortion to euthanasia, chimps' rights to legal marijuana, here are some bioethical controversies currently making headlines around the world:


A video uploaded on the Internet this month has sparked a new controversy in the case of Vincent Lambert, a 38-year-old French man in a neuro-vegetative state since a 2008 car accident. Though awake, he is unable to communicate with the people around him, reports to Le Monde. The video, which shows him listening to his mother on the phone, is the latest (and perhaps, last) attempt by his parents' to keep their son alive after a recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Lambert's wife, several siblings and his doctors who believe medical assistance should be removed. The right-to-die debate in France also surfaced in March with the case of terminally-ill French twins demanding the possibility of assisted suicide.


The case of a 10-year-old Paraguayan girl who was raped by her stepfather and who is now six months into her pregnancy has stirred this historically Roman Catholic country. Her mother has been put in jail for "failing in her duty of care," while the girl has been denied abortion as it is illegal except in case of the threat to the life of the mother. The Ultima Hora newspaper reports that the Paraguayan government and the girl's physicians declared her health not to be imminently in danger. Denying the possibility of abortion for the young girl has sparked criticism from women's and children's rights group both inside and outside of Paraguay.

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Arlene B. Tickner

Euthanasia And Pesticide Bans Show A Changing Colombia

Colombia's health minister has opened up to euthanasia and imposed new bans on herbicides -- news in a conservative country, and one so close to the U.S. for so long.


BOGOTA — The increasing interdependence and connectedness of countries and societies, an expanded list of global concerns and the virtually instantaneous nature of communications are undermining the distinction between domestic politics and foreign policy.
All these, part of the reality of globalization, have in turn eroded the roles of foreign ministries as the sole mouthpieces or representatives of countries before the international community. Two recent developments in Colombia illustrate this perfectly. By deciding to facilitate euthanasia and also recommending an end to pesticide treatments on coca plantations, Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria has shown how "local" decision-taking can have a global reach. These decisions also show how important it is to include other governmental and non-governmental voices in Colombia in diplomacy debates.
Because the Colombia Parliament wouldn't legislate in this area, the ministry issued a decree to regulate the use of euthanasia by health policy administrators, many of them private. This comes 17 years after the Constitutional Court decriminalized euthanasia, saying a "dignified death" is a fundamental right. From abroad, this development has been perceived as a bold decision that places the country on a short list of those that have mechanisms defending the right of people to decide for themselves when to die, within a specific legal framework. They include the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Argentina and Canada, as well as the U.S. states of Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.
The minister also recommended suspending the spraying of illegal coca plantations with glyphosate, an herbicide that has been a crucial ingredient in the war against drugs since the 1990s.

While the UN's cancer agency recently identified glyphosate as a probable cancer agent, other studies link this substance, sprayed extensively across Colombia, with skin conditions, breathing illnesses and miscarriages. Observers have increasingly questioned the efficacy of fumigation as an anti-drug strategy and commented on its negative impact on relations between coca-producing communities and the government, especially ahead of a possible end to the country's decades-long guerrilla wars.
As with euthanasia, there are significant implications abroad to ending spraying with glyphosate. If accepted, it would boost Colombia's already important contribution to regional and global debates on illegal drugs, as well as its autonomy vis-à-vis Washington. As expected, the United States has responded by saying it expects the country's sovereignty but disagrees with the health minister's recommendation.
In contrast with the (broadly accurate) perception of Colombia as a conservative, insular and "backward" country, the minister's bold departures offer us an interesting counter-narrative of a country that is more liberal and critical, increasingly in tune with global trends and willing to contribute to international debates.
Doan Bui

Why These French Twins Are Fighting To Legalize Euthanasia

Both born with the incurable disease of cystic fibrosis, 35-year-old Nicolas and Damien Delmer are desperately sick. With the life they have left, they're working for the right to die the way they want.

AMELIE-LES-BAINS — When they talk about their childhood, Nicolas and Damien Delmer prefer to recall only the happiest memories. The mornings when they would snuggle up in their pajamas against each other and watch cartoons — it was the Dragon Ball Z and City Hunter era — or the endless hours spent in their bedroom building huge Lego spaceships.

Then there were the epic birthday parties, where as many as 60 kids would be running around every corner of their house in the French Oise region near Paris. They celebrated two birthdays in one, the convenient joy of being twins: Nicolas and Damien. Damien and Nicolas. The inseparable, the entwined.

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Laetitia Clavreul

Euthanasia Du Jour? Doctors' Hidden Truth On End-Of-Life Care

Amid an ongoing public debate in France on end-of-life palliative care, doctors tell Le Monde how they secretly help their patients die.

PARIS — As the president of a doctor’s union says of treating the chronically ill, “We’ve all pushed the syringe” at some point in their careers.

Death is a topic that doctors rarely discuss among themselves. Too heavy, too personal. Instead, these things tend to be between attending physicians and their patients, who they follow until their very last minutes.

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Hanna Sabass and Daniel Gerecke

'It Was An Act Of Love' - Letting A Dying Child Go

Annukka died of a brain tumor at the age of three. Her parents, who were by her side until the end, tell their story amidst a growing push to extend assisted death to children.

Hanna Sabass and Daniel Gerecke, both of whom have university degrees in geography, had been working for a decade in international development. And it was within the framework of a professional project that in 2009 the married couple intended to leave for the Fiji Islands with their daughters Annukka, 2, and Antonia, 8. But shortly before departure, Annukka got very sick, and four months later an aggressive brain tumor was diagnosed.

In a very personal essay, Annukka’s parents shared their story exclusively for the Süddeutsche Zeitung after Belgium became the first country in the world to lift any age restriction for euthanasia.

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Japan Finance Minister Says Elderly Should "Hurry Up And Die"



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Pope Slams Gay Marriage. Where's The Tweet?

So far Benedict XVI's new @Pontifex on Twitter has avoided controversial topics.



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