Sunday, November 4, 2012

Physician Assisted Suicide.

I live in Massachusetts and we are voting in two days on whether or not to allow physician assisted suicide. I oppose the law. I haven't been happy with the arguments against it, though. Here are the major ones I have seen:

The question is poorly written.  If it was well-written would you vote for it? I wouldn't. Still, if you are not morally opposed to physician-assisted suicide, this is something to consider. 

Predicting the end of life is difficult. Very true. My grandmother lived more than 10 years after the doctors told her she had two weeks. An important point. Still, even if we could accurately predict the end of life, I would oppose this law. 

The question doesn't require patients requesting a prescription to end life to receive counseling or meet with a psychiatrist or psychologist.  If this safeguard were in place, I would still vote no on this question.

The prescription could be provided by any doctor, regardless of specialty. I am guessing that most doctors whose specialties rarely involve the terminally ill -- eye doctors, podiatrists, etc., -- would not be writing these prescriptions. But, again, even if there were restrictions, I would not vote for this law. 

Proposed safeguards are not adequate and will allow for elder abuse. That's horrible in and of itself, but if adequate protective measures were included I would still oppose this measure. 

Clearly my oppostion to Question 2 is not related to safeguards and procedures. It's about respect for life. The law already allows people to refuse any medical treatment, even if it would save their life. Pain medication and other palliative measures are available to those who want them.

If we enact this law, we may well set up an environment in which people will begin to see the terminally ill as a burden. There will be subtle undercurrents and societal pressures that will cause those with heartbreaking diagnoses to see it as their duty to die and relieve their caregivers of difficult responsibilty. It will blur the line between medical care and mercy killing.

I see the intentional taking of life as playing God. Even if you don't believe in God, can see that putting one's self in the place of a deity is wrong: It is not for us to decide who lives and who dies.

Please, if you live in Massachusetts, vote no on question 2. 

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