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Thanks for the posting. Read another good article by Margaret Somerville this week. She hits the nail on the head.
This is an issue of recognizing we are persons, intrinsically valuable and made for life who should be nurtured, supported and protected by society and government. The discussion that is sneaking in the door is one of focusing on ‘prevention of abuses’ related to euthanasia. Focusing on abuses implies euthanasia is acceptable as long as it is done in or for ‘good’ intentions. When euthanasia management is being discussed a society no longer sees its’ people as individuals of importance and valuable. A shift occurs wherein that person’s existence is now subject to some extraneous panel of ‘experts’. Beware the ‘experts’. There were lots of experts in the medical, legal and ethical institutions of Nazi Germany.
Assisted death is indeed bad public policy. It’s also bad medicine – the antithesis of what I signed up for when I accepted medicine as my vocation! And (trust me, I’m a doctor!), any legislation I’ve read from any jurisdiction is more about protecting me and my MD colleagues from being held accountable than it is about the patients we purport to serve.
Margaret Mead was right when she said that society has a duty to protect us from being thrust into the role of occasional executioner. Our patients need to know that we come to the bedside with an undivided commitment to healing.
I don’t want to put a doctor in the position of being an executioner. As a cancer patient, what I would like is an alternative to a bullet to the head or knife to the wrists. I will NOT suffer the long, painful, lingering death that I’ve seen so very many, too many, times. It has been very clear to me, time and time again, that ultimately even straight morphine often offers no relief. Should the cancer return and claim my life, I want to go out on MY terms and before I’m driven mad with pain. The resistance to this basic human right has caused me to stockpile narcotics and benzos. You do what you have to do, I guess.