Posts Tagged ‘health


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Euthanasia – A Heathen Perspective

Given the current euthanasia debate in Tasmania, our readers may be interested to read this piece by Ota, which looks at euthanasia from an Odinist (that is, heathen/pagan) perspective…

This originally appeared in the Odinist magazine Renewal, and is reprinted here with permission of the author. For a free sample issue of Renewal, please send a stamp to PO Box 4333, University of Melbourne, Victoria, 3052.

by Ota

Ketil “Flat-Nose” was a powerful lord in 9th century Norway.  He married Yngvild, and they had five children – the most brilliant of whom was a daughter known as Unn “the Deep-Minded”.

After a long and adventurous life, which is described in several sagas, Unn “was growing weary with old age”.  She arranged a sumptuous wedding feast for her kinsfolk.

On the first night, after welcoming her many guests, Laxdaela Saga tells us “Unn rose to her feet and said that she was now retiring to her bed-chamber: she urged them all to enjoy themselves in whatever way they each thought best, and ordered ale to be served to the whole company.  It is said that Unn was tall and stoutly-built.  She walked briskly down the length of the hall, and those present remarked on how stately she still was.

“There was drinking all that evening until it was thought time to go to bed.  Next morning Olaf Feilan went to his grand-mother’s bedroom.  When he entered Unn was sitting propped up against the pillows; she was dead.  Olaf went back into the hall and announced the news: everyone thought it most impressive how Unn had kept her dignity to her dying day.”

Wouldn’t most of us love to go out that way?  Still “stately”, still dignified, and listening to our loved ones out in the feast-hall having a great party?

We don’t know how Unn managed her timing.  Perhaps with her renowned iron will she forced herself to keep going until the wedding feast was clearly a success, then relaxed.  Perhaps she took her own life with some poison – although there is nothing in the saga to suggest that.

I am not aware of any clear reference to female suicide in the sagas.  Male suicide, on the other hand, was common.  Except that the guys didn’t take their own lives.  Instead, they challenged some other, more powerful, guy or guys and were then inevitably killed.

It was a bit like the modern Australian phenomenon that has been called “suicide-by-cop”, in which a young man deliberately tricks police into fatally shooting him.  Not a very pleasant way to arrange things, either for the victim or the poor cops who are forced to dispatch him.  (Do they get the jitters whenever they are again placed in a similar, pseudo-threatening situation?  I would.)

It would be so much more cleaner, so much nicer, so much more Odinist, if we could just go out when we were ready, like Unn the Deep-Minded.

And we could, if it weren’t for the un-clean and decidedly not-nice Christians.

In June 1996 the government of Australia’s Northern Territory made doctor-assisted suicide legal.  We were the first civilised nation in modern times to legislate for “death with dignity”.  It didn’t last long.  Only four terminally-ill patients were allowed to make use of this law before it was overturned by the federal Government, which caved in to immense pressure from the Catholic Church.

Opinion polls show that the majority of Australians want to die at a time of their own choosing.  The polls also show that most people aren’t as worried by the pain of a terminal illness as they are of the consequent loss of dignity: the closing down of one or more of their senses, the loss of control of their bladder and bowel functions, the helplessness, the delirium, the bedsores, the smell … In short, the fact that they are forced to stay alive when life has become intolerable to anyone with any sense of self-respect.

Despite the popular support in Australia for voluntary euthanasia, the Christians are implacably opposed to it.  In South Australia four separate bills supporting “death with dignity” have been introduced by the Democrats.  None succeeded.  In Western Australia a Democrat has introduced a voluntary euthanasia bill four times into the state’s parliament, but it has never even been brought up for debate.  In Queensland the state branch of the ALP has called on the ALP government to introduce voluntary euthanasia legislation.  Some Chance!

Now Australia has lost its chance to lead the world in both democracy and dignity.  Holland, evidently a far more civilised nation, has recently legalised mercy killing and doctor-assisted suicides, and has even begun training 500 doctors to advise their colleagues on the legal and practical niceties.

Most Dutch doctors and 90% of the Dutch people support the voluntary euthanasia legislation.  The bill was opposed only by the Christian Democrats and (surprise surprise!) three small “religious right” parties.

Prior to this new legislation doctors could be, and were, prosecuted for showing a final kindness to their terminally ill patients.  One such doctor was Aycke Smook, an experienced cancer surgeon.  Eventually acquitted after a prosecution lasting three years, he now admits to having helped 95 patients die.  “In my opinion it’s a normal medical act,” he is reported to have said.  “It’s the last treatment you can give to patients.”

He tells the story of a former professional footballer dying of bowel cancer.  The patient was in acute pain, couldn’t eat, needed tubes inserted through his nose to suck out stomach fluids, and was covered with bedsores.  He approached Dr Smook for relief.  They arranged a day.  When the time came he had his hair cut and his moustache trimmed, and then said “Now I am decent to go.  Now it’s my time.”  According to Dr Smook, “He died with a smile on his face.  It was a very fine occasion because he knew what he wanted.  He died peacefully and his daughter was delighted her father’s suffering was over.”

It is hard to imagine just how much worse it must have been for that former athlete than for the rest of us.  To have been a star sportsman, and then to be reduced to little more than a life-size bedsore, fed and evacuated with tubes … hideous!

But here in Australia that dying athlete’s unimaginable sufferings could not be ended in such a humane way.  The Christians would not and will not allow death with dignity.  They believe on religious grounds that we do not have the right to dispose of our own lives.  It is not for us, they say, to decide the time and manner of our going.  No, in their blind, uncaring arrogance they claim that these are matters to be determined by their ghastly god, and him alone.

There are no prizes for guessing who suffers the most from this intransigence.  It’s the same group that always cops the worst deal from Christianity, the group that, deep down in its hate-filled core, Christianity despises most: women.

As in all cultures founded by people of Odinist ancestry, women in Australia live longer than men.  Statistically, a dying man is likely to have his wife or female partner with him at the end, to comfort him, to do the little special things that he needs, to reassure him that their affairs beyond the palliative care ward are still being tended.

Then, after a few years, the woman dies.  If she’s lucky she might have children who can help in some ways – but not the ways she helped the man in her life.  Often she dies alone, like an abandoned old dog.

This is yet another reason why the Sisterhood should turn their anger against Christianity, rather than men.  But trust me: they won’t.


Tasmanian GM ban makes sense

The national anarchists of Tasmania believe that a GM ban everywhere makes sense.  Genetic modification only serves corporations and corrupt governments, at the expense of making the environment and everyone in it into guinea pigs.   An excellent article on the risks of GM foods exists here.


BOB PHELPS Gene Ethics

The Tasmanian Government ban until 2014 on Genetically Manipulated (GM) crops, animals and microbes is supported by all political parties and the community. It is an economic winner for the state.

“We congratulate all Tasmanians on keeping their state GM-free for at least five more years,” says Gene Ethics Director, Bob Phelps.

“The Tasmanian inquiry into GM reached all-party agreement that the ban should stay.

“This consensus was based on clear evidence that commercial GM releases pose unacceptable hazards and costs.

“Tasmania’s decision will protect the integrity of its clean, green brand and increased sales of top quality GM-free foods in Australia and around the world, at premium prices.

“In contrast, NSW, Victoria and WA have sacrificed the independence of their farmers to the GM giants and the reputation of their food products.

“They are promoting failed and dangerous GM technology that offers nothing to farmers or shoppers.

“They ignored the evidence that GM cannot deliver on its promises and accepted GM industry propaganda, allowing GM contamination of their environments and the food supply.

“The whole of Australia should adopt Tasmania’s GM-free stance and renew their bans on GM,” Mr Phelps concludes.

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