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I really need to make a post about the higher rates of suicide and arrest among adopted and foster children (most of whom are girls, given that girls are more frequently in demand as “orphans”), wherein even outside the juvenile justice system and psychiatric wards, isolation, forcible restraint, and sensory deprivation are often mandated. [MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING for linked contents]
WHEN I was 17, I was raped by an older man I knew. We were at a party. He gave me cocktails, fun to look at and easy to drink. I wasn’t used to drinking and drank too many, too fast. He offered to bring me home, but once I was in his car he brought me somewhere else instead. I thought that night would never end, but morning came, as it does, and he let me go.
I bled for three days, but kept it hidden. I didn’t look for help because I was humiliated and ashamed and because I didn’t have words for what had happened to me.
In any case, because I was 17 and no one had ever told me otherwise, I thought I deserved the damage. And I really, really, really did not want anyone to know. No amount of hot baths or pumice stones could wash the memory of that night away, or scrub the reek of it from my skin.
On top of all that, I was afraid I might be pregnant. There was no doubt in my mind that if I was, I’d have an abortion. I wouldn’t have told anyone that, either.
I didn’t want to have an abortion, but I knew that a pregnancy from that night would destroy me. I needed to scrape every trace of the experience off me, root it out from every pore and crevice. I’d have bathed in acid if I thought it would scour my body clean and free.
The only thing that kept me sane in those first few days was thinking I had the option of abortion. I’d been stupid at that party, but I was savvy enough in other ways. I knew where to look for information, how to get out of the country, where to borrow the money I would have lied to get.
I was the opposite of proud of myself, making these plans, but I was desperate to wrest my body back from the force that had stolen it.
Would I have been suicidal, if I’d been pregnant and unable to end that pregnancy? I think it’s likely. My revulsion and loathing – self-loathing and the other kind – were so strong, I’d have done anything, and I do mean anything, to escape them.
Luckily for me, there was no pregnancy. When the waiting was over and I knew for sure, I took a deep breath and got on with my life, more or less.
A wanted pregnancy, in very different circumstances, was a revelation to me in all its physical and emotional intensity. It was the most extraordinarily intimate and powerful experience I’d ever known.
It was obvious and secret, ordinary and sacred, banal and deeply thrilling, all at once. There was magic in it.
Every day, I felt its power grow and embed itself more deeply in every cell of my body.
You might think this would convince me that abortion was absolutely wrong, but it had the opposite effect. It convinced me that no one has the right to force that intensity on anyone who doesn’t want it, or isn’t ready for it.
I couldn’t begin to imagine the nightmare of going through such seismic physical and emotional changes against my will.
I didn’t want to have an abortion, when I was 17, but I would have done it if I had to, to save myself.
I think that sentence is at the heart of the arguments about legislating for suicidal feelings.
The argument as to whether abortion can be a valid treatment for a psychiatric condition is a distraction. There’s a big difference between mental illness and the suicidal feelings a person might have in response to an overwhelming situation.
In the early stages of pregnancy, there are two lives in the balance, but one of them is a potential life; it can only become viable over time and at the expense of the other.
Only that mother knows what the cost to her will be and whether she can afford it or not.I defy anyone, male or female, to look my 17-year-old self in the eye and tell her that they feel personally entitled to deny her the right to regain control of her own body, that they will force her to endure an extension of that rape for the sake of their world view.
But that’s what it means to pass laws that frame the kinds of restrictions our legislature are discussing right now.
Where will the pundits and the politicians or the panels of experts be during the long, frightened nights and days of an unwanted pregnancy, or during the storms of labour?
Will they be the ones to cope with the consequences, to the mothers, to the children, to the families? Will they be the ones to mind those babies, bring up those children, minute by minute, day by day, year on year?
Abortion is a highly charged, difficult subject. It sparks so much passion, fury and hatred that many women are afraid to speak out privately, let alone in public.
I was afraid to write this. But, on balance, I think I’m more afraid of living in a country where I’m afraid to say what I believe and why."
Sullivan spots Douglas Noble and Iain Brassington debating Assisted suicide after the UK Commission on Assisted Dying issued its report on the subject. Noble thinks he’s “pin-pointed a weakness in the case for assisted suicide:”
In political terms [assisted suicide] is a dead duck – so why the continual fascination by a minority of vocal campaigners? The answers are complex. Perhaps, though, it is ultimately because of an inability to accept that suffering is an integral part of our world, common to all who share the human condition. Dealing a fatal injection and dressing it up as dignity is not a solution to suffering and pain. High quality palliative care is part of the answer, but so too is the effect of the affection, love, and commitment (sometimes over long periods of time) that we can show to one another when the worst hand is dealt.
[T]he real oddity is the idea that “suffering is an integral part of our world, common to all who share the human condition”. For one thing, I’m not suffering now, and if I never suffer at any point in the future, that’s just fine by me. This doesn’t mean that I’m missing out from some part of “the human condition” (whatever that might be), or that I wish to be less than human. Maybe he means the potential to suffer – but, again, there’s no obvious reason why this should strike anyone as a good thing. Besides: someone who wants their life to end because they’re suffering is someone who is plainly pretty much OK with the idea of opting out of the human condition wholesale.
Frankly, Noble’s entire piece is one giant glaring Is-Ought Fallacy. Brassington gets it right later in his piece:
[W]hatever one thinks of these statements about the human condition (and, to be honest, they always strike me as being a bit… well… jazz poetry), it’s plain that “suffering is part of the human condition therefore assisted dying ought to be resisted” is a painful non sequitur – yet it’s pretty much what the suggestion here boils down to.
Precisely. And notwithstanding this, how can Noble possibly be the judge of whether someone’s suffering is or is not sufficient to justify intervention? Have you ever seen what a wasting AIDS patient looks like in their final days? An irredeemably cancer-ridden person’s mangled, amputated body? An Alzheimer’s patient whose become so unresponsive that they literally are not there? Who would want to put their children and/or loved ones through this sort of suffering, much less endure it themselves? Noble’s paean that “suffering is part of the human condition” is cold comfort to the irredeemably afflicted. Respecting the dignity of human life means having regard for those whose suffering and quality of life has become so wretched that they are justifiably allowed to decide when to end it.
Noble’s presumptive bi-fold declaration that, 1) suffering is part of the human condition & should be embraced, and 2) the correct answer involves Palliative care and lots of happy-time fun-love from friends and relatives is a subjective value judgment which he has no sound basis to apply to any individual case. His argument tells us more about how it makes him feel to watch people confront incurable suffering, and find solace in relieving themselves and their families from the affirmatively-stricken bondage of their mortal coil, rather than extending what will probably be an expensive, burdensome period of suffering with extremely low quality of life, whose expense very likely could be borne in some way by your surviving loved ones.
It is not unreasonable under these circumstances for a person to conclude that this cornucopia of burdens, pain and suffering, with no appeal to any meaningful relief, is so unbearable that it amounts to the conclusion of their useful life. Not everyone will come to this conclusion, and indeed, most don’t. But those who do deserve to have their wishes respected. Nobody is in a better position to make this evaluation than the afflicted, in counsel with their loved ones and trusted confidants.
Some people might feel hesitation about the above observation. Indeed, the strongest argument against assisted suicide is that people may request it in potentially temporary moments of immense despair, and we risk cutting short the life of a person who might’ve lived, and perhaps even come to live well, if only temporarily. But that’s not an argument against legalizing assisted suicide. It’s an argument against helping depressed people kill themselves. I know of very few advocates for assisted suicide who think we should be in the business of “taking all comers,” so to speak. There’s room for, and indeed need for, legal restrictions on the availability of assisted suicide.
But the fact remains that when we talk about Assisted Suicide, we are generally not talking about people who are merely severely depressed, and for whom the hope of rehabilitation and meaningful thriving remains. We are talking about people for whom there’s no going back. We are talking about people who have become so afflicted by unrelievable medical circumstances that allowing them to decide whether to continue on with the Grand Experiment of life becomes a moral and humane obligation.
Many people in these tragic circumstances find reason to keep the counsel of material trappings. Good on them. The point remains that this decision is theirs alone to make, and society should not stand between the tragically-afflicted and whatever metaphysical transubstantiation they think awaits them, if their condition is so physically and psychologically burdensome that releasing themselves from the material embrace of their biological situation would grant them a reprieve which the human condition can no longer afford them.
Giving people the freedom to make this decision for themselves shows far more respect for human dignity than the pretense of prolonging lives of those who have suffered long and unabated under the deleterious effects of a terminal illness, or beset by the yoke of a tragically extreme affliction so wretched that it robs one’s life of its natural quality. Taking that choice away from someone smacks of an intolerably selfish appeal to paternalism; it is an attempt to vindicate the personal feelings of people (like Noble) who have come to conclusive presumptions about the inherent sanctity of life, and would rather appeal to those presumptions than respect the feelings of the people who actually have to bear the burdens of the restrictions Noble et al. would place on them (and indeed, all of us) in our time of dying.
If human dignity means anything, it means acknowledging, with humility, that the pain and suffering people endure when terminally or irredeemably afflicted is multifarious and unique to to each individual circumstance. To the extent that we worry about prematurely granting mortality wishes, regulation is certainly appropriate. But outright bans on assisted suicide are closer to misguided cruelty than enlightened benevolence.
Over the course of an acting career that has spanned more than 50 years, ranging from Shakespeare to Star Trek, Sir Patrick Stewart has died, he says, “many times”.
Now he has revealed the reasons why he is backing a campaign to legalise “assisted dying” for patients who are terminally ill.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the actor criticised the “selfish” religious opposition to reform and disclosed how he was moved to campaign for a change in the law by the suicide of a friend’s wife.
He also described the daily experience of his own ageing, from the painful rheumatism in his hands to the fear that his memory for lines may one day fail.
Senior figures in the Church of England, among other faith groups, have condemned the campaign for legal reform, which is being led by the organisation Dignity in Dying, of which Stewart is a patron.
However, the actor’s own opinion of the religious opposition is equally strong.
“I find it selfish,” he said. “We have freedom of religion in this country, but with that does not go the opportunity, because you are a person of faith, to impose your beliefs on others who do not share them.”
The “vocal minority” of largely “faith-based voices” must not be allowed to hold sway over the debate, he said.
“We are campaigning for assisted dying in circumstances where a person is terminally ill and mentally sound, able to make their own choices. Where is the ethical problem in a situation like that?
“Sure there would be an ethical problem if we were saying, it’s carte blanche, you can bump off your old granny. But I see no ethical problems at all.
“If there are risks involved in a piece of legislation, does that necessarily mean that you do not carry out the legislation? There are risks involved in almost everything, and it’s the duty of Pand the state to see that people have a liberty of choice with regard to their own lives.”
Well said, sir.
He is just a quality quality human being.
I am so glad I grew up watching him. Captain Picard was like a father figure to me when I was a teenager and it makes me feel so good to know that Patrick Stewart is as fine a person as the character he played on television.
I love him.
Bebinn: “You’re still missing the entire bodily autonomy argument.”
The bodily autonomy argument states that "Abortion is justifiable, because the mother has the right to control how her own body is used."
The fact is, a fetuses DNA is completely unique from the mother’s therefore it is actually not a part of the mother. It can also have a different blood type, eye color, sex, height ect. ect. all which can be determined from those first forty-six chromosomes. Yes, it resides inside her womb but it is not a functioning part of her body. Whether or not something lives should not rely on the location it is at.
The notion that we have total control over how our body is used, and that our rights permit it is also untrue. For example, I doubt you could find a doctor who would amputate all of your limbs just because you wanted to, and because it was your body. Another example is a person who wants to commit suicide…they can’t really do whatever they want with their body, I mean sure who is to stop them if they do it by themselves - but otherwise they are put into therapy and hospitals can practically imprison them if they continue to attempt suicide. If you help someone commit suicide you are legally tried as an accomplice (or something along those lines) - so technically…no just because it is your body does not give you the ‘right’ to do whatever you want with it.
As far as killing something to save another persons life…well…The situations in which the decision between a mothers life and a babies is very rare. In a case of tubal pregnancy…the baby is not going to live any way…there is no hope… so to terminate it is acceptable, otherwise it would just be stupid to let both humans die when one can be saved for sure.
I get that women do not specifically choose to get pregnant, but that’s just an unfortunate affect of how our body is programmed…we have to accept that. Yes, the fetus is 100% dependent on us till a point…but the level of dependency shouldn’t define whether a life can be killed or not [as stated in a later argument] Too bad we can’t be like seahorses where we can let the baby develop in the male haha, that would be interesting.
Wait…is this some kind of secret reblog, or something? Creepy.
Location is everything, being that the location we are talking about is, oh, inside another person. The reading comprehension fail here is pretty spectacular: You said yourself that the bodily autonomy argument is that a person has the right to control how their body is used, and instead addressed a fetus’ “right to life,” as if that was supposed to be some kind of counterargument.
You’re right, it is too bad that we can’t transplant the millions of unwanted embryos into willing people or machines, but medical technology hasn’t gotten that far yet. Would it make you feel better if the embryos and fetuses were surgically removed, even at severe risk to the pregnant person? Would you be happy if physicians made every effort to save the now-independent, half-pound fetus with undeveloped lungs and cartilage for bones? Then the pregnant person can have control over their body, and the fetus isn’t killed.
Your analogies are irrelevant. You’d have a hard time finding a doctor to amputate your limbs because it goes against the Hippocratic Oath, but you could certainly cut them off yourself. Of course, then you would die, and also this is a completely ridiculous scenario, so let’s move on.
I have a number of opinions on suicide. I am all for assisted suicide, as well as the right of someone to take their own life if they are terminally ill or otherwise close to death or loss of self. In what I would guess are the majority of instances, however, a person who considers suicide after a trauma or due to mental illness is suffering from trauma or mental illness, and as far as I know, is not of sound mind to be making life-and-death decisions. I’m afraid I don’t know enough about mental illness and trauma to make any sweeping judgments, but what I do understand is that it is generally a temporarily unbearable situation. Many times, what the person really wants is for the pain to stop - not for their life to end. Not having ever been in that state of mind, I can only go from what family and friends have told me.
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, America’s largest anti-sexual violence network. Website includes a Sexual Assault phone and online hotline, find a local counseling center, how to help a loved one, information to educate yourself and a list of international resources
Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project, provides crisis intervention, support and resources to victims and survivors of domestic abuse. Includes a hotline and a list of events
Help Guide, find any kind of helpful organization including domestic abuse. Includes a help guide, hotlines, and where to find a safe place to stay.
Kids Help, an organization that focuses on helping children and teens in Canada. Includes a phone and online hotline, helps set kids and teens up with a resource in their area.
Youth Homelessness and Runaway Prevention, to help keep runaway and at risk children off the streets and safe. Provides support and solutions to keep kids safe.
The National Herpes Hotline provides information and referrals to help treat and live with herpes.
A list of National hotlines for STDS and/or substance abuse
Hopeline, run by the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, A hotline that helps you deal with feelings of depression or the thought of suicide. Amazing organization to give you hope.
I’ve been thinking about assisted suicide and capital punishment in the pro-life mindset. The pro-life/anti-choice philosophy holds that any ending of human life is morally reprehensible, so many who identify as pro-life also disagree with assisted suicide, or “euthanasia,” as they sometimes call it. However, many pro-lifers also support capital punishment. I wonder how much overlap there is?
Cognitive dissonance is a fact of life. People’s individual beliefs often clash with their identified ideology, so these contradictions should come as no surprise. They do seem, however, to further underline the theory that being pro-life, or rather, being against any ending of life, is more about control, and less about the belief in the “sanctity of life,” however you choose to define it.
Because if someone believes simultaneously that capital punishment is right, and assisted suicide is wrong, what they are implying is that it is more right for an outsider to judge when your life is worth ending, than it is for you to decide on your own.
And that just doesn’t sit right with me.
So while browsing around the until abortion ends website, I stumble upon a link to another site: I am whole life. There they listed things they felt were a threat to human dignity, one of which was euthanasia. It’s a morbid topic, but for a pro-choice person, I feel in a sense, euthanasia is also a pro-choice topic.
But, seeing that this anti-choice site was against euthanasia struck me as no real surprise. They’re all about control and “I know what’s better for you than you so shut the fuck up and let me red tape your body.” I just…I can’t. I can see where they come from with “pro-life”, but how do you feel euthanasia is a threat to human dignity? If anything the lack of euthanasia, to me, is a threat to human dignity. Why should a person be forced to go through painful diseases, only to know they will die at the end? Once again, choice. Why shouldn’t I have to the right to choose whether or not I want to live out the last painful months of my life? Why does the anti-choice movement have such a deep seeded need for control and a “I know what’s best” opinion?
I really don’t get why when it comes down to choices, be it abortion, euthanasia or anything else that comes to what I choose to do with my body, I don’t understand why people on the anti-choice side of the fence feel they’re opinions are best and they have to tell me how to live my life the best. To me, pro-choice isn’t so much “my choice in reproductive rights” as it is “my choice on how to live my life”
I have yet to understand how it’s not all about control. These people think they can speak for perfect strangers because a book and a religious leader told them so. They refuse to see how the complexities of our individual lives change our perspective and influence our decision-making, and assume that their one brand of “protecting life” extends to the rest of the 7 billion people on the planet. Please. If that isn’t the height of arrogance, I don’t know what is.
I hope to be working in a hospice as a music therapist (in addition to doula work…kind of bookending, right?). We watched a documentary on people with Alzheimer’s, called The Memory Loss tapes. One woman, Yolanda, was almost completely gone, though still verbal. She hallucinated terrifying, long-legged creatures climbing on the chair in her room, snakes crawling on her wheelchair, and a woman named Ruth in her mirror. She was unable to care for herself in the most basic ways, couldn’t remember her own son, and was in a constant state of anxiety and terror. At one point, she cried out, “This is no life!”
I’ve talked about my grandparents and their experiences with dementia before. My grandpa saw what was happening to his wife, his love of over 50 years, and how she was eventually barely verbal and couldn’t care for herself, though she had been the matriarch of the family and capable mother of four for so many years. He wouldn’t leave her alone in a home, and he sure as hell wasn’t going, either. They were staying together. She was his girl. He knew it was happening to him, a self-reliant, incredibly smart WWII veteran, and he did what was right for him and my grandma. The cruelty of those who would force him and my grandmother to stay here, to slowly lose all their faculties and sense of reality, in the name of “life,” is incomprehensible to me. That is a threat to human dignity. That is not pro-life.
Depression Hotline: 1-630-482-9696
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-8433
Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
Sexuality Support: 1-800-246-7743
Eating Disorders Hotline: 1-847-831-3438
Rape and Sexual Assault: 1-800-656-4673
Grief Support: 1-650-321-5272
Runaway: 1-800-843-5200, 1-800-843-5678, 1-800-621-4000
Exhale: After Abortion Hotline/Pro-Voice: 1-866-439–4253
Reblogging because you know, someone out there could use one of these.