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An argument in favor of euthanasia in the medical field

Euthanasia, Assisted suicide and the Medical Profession: Doctors are not necessary for the regulation or practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide Many doctors want no part in euthanasia or assisted suicide, including some who, on a personal level, are not opposed in principle.

Nathaniel Centre Submission to the Justice Select Committee

However, it was deemed necessary at the time for doctors to be involved in order to gain public acceptance. To quote Jonquiere who has visited New Zealand: Palliative doctors and nurses report that patients ask for 'help to end it all', not because they are serious about dying, but to show they are up against it and to seek reassurance.

  • I am personally much more in favour of the pro-PAS and pro-VAE positions, although the arguments against do raise issues that need to be addressed;
  • It is … essential that the correct question is posed.

If euthanasia or assisted suicide were available, and a doctor responded positively to a request for 'assisted dying', he or she risks sending the message, however unintended, that the patient's condition and outlook are every bit as bad as the patient fears and that death is the best option.

As stated by one doctor: In my practice, more than two dozen patients have discussed assisted suicide with me. Most did not have a terminal diagnosis.

One inquiry came from a patient with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis. He was in a wheelchair yet lived an active life as a general contractor. I asked him how the disease affected his life.

  • He was in a wheelchair yet lived an active life as a general contractor;
  • Argument in favour of assisted suicide The most compelling argument in favour of physician assisted suicide or voluntary active euthanasia is the argument in support of committing suicide in a democracy.

He acknowledged that MS was a major challenge and told me that if he got too much worse, he might want to "just end it. I also told him that should he become sicker or weaker, I would work to provide him the best care and support available. No matter how debilitated he might become, his life was, and would always be, inherently valuable.

The Nathaniel Centre

As such, I said that would I not recommend nor would I participate in his suicide. Such patients deserve doctors who will support them through their illnesses, not offer them a quick exit.

As Living and Dying Well state: Euthanasia and assisted suicide contravene medical ethics Professional medical groups, such as the New Zealand Medical Association NZMA and world Medical Association WMAabide by long-established ethical codes to guide their members, codes that draw on principles developed over many centuries of reflecting on what is good for the profession and good for society patients. In both the Western and Eastern traditions of medicine one of the most important principles is embodied in the maxim that doctors should first do no harm to their patients.

Moreover, an opinion survey of 1,000 UK GPs in 2015 revealed that only one in seven of them would be prepared to consider a request for PAS. The European Association for Palliative Care, which includes amongst its members countries where euthanasia and assisted suicide are allowed, stated: It is … essential that the correct question is posed. Physician participation in assisted suicide or euthanasia can have a profound harmful effect on the involved physicians.

  • While we will continue to argue that any changes to the current law are unnecessary and dangerous and while this will continue to be debated and challenged by proponents, all should be able to agree that the risks and problems associated with involving doctors, combined with the fact that doctors are not necessary in the regulation or practice of assisted suicide, means that parliament must reject outright any proposed Bills that have doctors at their centre;
  • But we do have the right to decide how long we remain in existence;
  • Various studies have also established that large numbers of cases of euthanasia in Belgium and the Netherlands are not reported, as is required by law in both countries;
  • The evidence points to this being the most coherent and ethically defensible response.

Doctors must take responsibility for causing the patient's death. There is a huge burden on conscience, tangled emotions and a large psychological toll on the participating physicians.

  1. I asked him how the disease affected his life.
  2. To quote Jonquiere who has visited New Zealand. Oregon physicians are decreasingly present at the time of the assisted suicide.
  3. Margaret Somerville puts it well. The Bill offers no comfort to me.
  4. But we do have the right to decide how long we remain in existence.

Many physicians describe feelings of isolation. Published evidence indicates that some patients and others are pressuring and intimidating doctors to assist in suicides. Some doctors feel they have no choice but to be involved in assisted suicides.

Oregon physicians are decreasingly present at the time of the assisted suicide. Insofar as physicians enjoy societal trust, it is because since Hippocrates, physicians have maintained solidarity with those who are sick and disabled, seeking only to heal and refusing to use their skills and powers to do harm.

That is why Doctors Without Borders treats injured Taliban soldiers. It is why physicians have refused to participate in capital punishment, or to be active combatants, or to cooperate with torture. It is why physicians have refused to help patients commit suicide. Many patients with terminal illness fear unbearable pain or other symptoms.

Many patients loath the prospect of abject debility. Various studies have also established that large numbers of cases of euthanasia in Belgium and the Netherlands are not reported, as is required by law in both countries. One study in Belgium found that only half of all estimated cases of euthanasia were reported to the Federal Control and Evaluation Committee.

All of the above evidence points to the fact that there are very real risks posed by the introduction of physician-assisted euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide for the integrity of the medical profession and an argument in favor of euthanasia in the medical field quality of the relationship between doctors and patients. There is also evidence from around the world which shows that certain groups, including some of the most vulnerable people in society, already have good reasons based on their lived reality to mistrust the medical profession without the added risks that would be posed by a euthanasia or assisted suicide regime.

It tears the trust between medical professionals and their patients that doctors will cure, not kill. It brings the spectre of killing as an option to every death bed, to every overworked administrator, to every hospital looking for budget cuts. Do your Lordships think that I would be refused?

No; you can be sure that there would be doctors and lawyers willing to support my right to die. Sadly, many would put their energies into that rather than improving my situation or helping me to change my mind. The Bill offers no comfort to me. It frightens me because, in periods of greatest difficulty, I know that I might be tempted to use it. It only adds to the burdens and challenges which life holds for me.

The fact that this argument can be made in respectable public forums demonstrates just how ableist this society is … ableism, like racism and sexism, is an ugly prejudice that society holds towards its minority members …This ideology, which we call Better Dead Than Disabled, permeates ableist society, but even more deeply infects the medical system, and the more society in general accepts it, the more we encounter it every time we have to deal with medicine.

We have presented an argument that the practice of medically assisted euthanasia or medically-assisted suicide will pose a real risk for the medical professions themselves, will negatively shape the way in which the medical professions will come to be regarded in the future and will potentially undermine the quality of care for patients at the end of life, in particular those who are disabled. Margaret Somerville puts it well: Anything that would blur the line, damage that trust, or make them less sensitive to their primary obligations to protect life is unacceptable.

Legalizing euthanasia would do all of these things. While we will continue to argue that any changes to the current law are unnecessary and dangerous and while this will continue to be debated and challenged by proponents, all should be able to agree that the risks and problems associated with involving doctors, combined with the fact that doctors are not necessary in the regulation or practice of assisted suicide, means that parliament must reject outright any proposed Bills that have doctors at their centre.

The evidence points to this being the most coherent and ethically defensible response.