Sunday, 19 October 2014

Euthanasia - a doctors job?

             I've been  reading quite a bit about euthanasia recently.   If folks want that option and convince their legislators to make it legal, that's none of my business as a physician.  If the expectation is that it should be part of the responsibility of physicians to provide this service, I am absolutely opposed to it.  Having practiced and taught medicine all my life there is no doubt in my mind that persuading or coercing physicians to end life would set a precedent that would change the very nature of our medical profession.    If a patient wishes to terminate his life he don't need a physician - that is not our job.  It would not be difficult for the legislators and administrators to incorporate help  in devising suicide packs that the patient could self administer or that the patient's family could administer in the case of the  patient being unable to manage.  There are organizations such as the spinoffs of the Hemlock Society/Final Exit groups that can  make the expertise available.
             I would caution my profession to avoid any involvement in such activity.  The concept of the physician as a healer  built over aeons would be irremediably damaged.
             The oft quoted;  "To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always." is still the foundation of medical care.  Assisted suicide does not fit into this model.


  1. I completely agree with you that having physicians involved in assisted suicide is a very slippery slope indeed! Your suggestion that family or friends could assist in a suicide, thereby taking it out of the domain of the physician, brings to mind the infamous Dr. Kevorkian - pejoratively labeled Dr. Death. Presumably, had he not been a doctor, by the standards of those who support assisted suicide, he would be a hero not a villain! These are very difficult decisions but they must be left in the domain of the individual and not the responsibility of the medical community.

  2. If performed under the guise of medicine, at least a different team should be involved in the euthanasia part!