I’m a member of medscape and found this article by Nancy R. Terry. What is your opinion?
FIor 10 years, Oregon was the only state in which physician-assisted suicide was legal. Recently, 2 more states have made the practice lawful. In November 2008, Washington voters approved a ballot initiative making it legal for a physician, at the request of a terminally ill patient, to prescribe a lethal dose of medication for administration by the patient. In December 2008, Montana’s first Judicial District Court ruled that state homicide laws unconstitutionally restricted terminally ill patients who seek a physician’s help in dying.
In response to the growing legalization of assisted suicide, a contributor to Medscape’s Physician Connect (MPC), a physician-only discussion board, posed the following provocative question: Would you consider writing a lethal prescription for a terminally ill patient who wants to die, if such an action was legal in your state? The resulting discussion reveals assisted suicide to be a polarizing issue for physicians.
“Killing is not within the purview of a physician,” says one MPC contributor. “For those of us who take our responsibility honestly and seriously, euthanasia will never be acceptable.” This view aligns with the position taken by the American Medical Association, which considers physician-assisted suicide as incompatible with a physician’s role as healer.
Some physicians, however, find this view simplistic. An emergency medicine doctor reasons, “Modern American medical ethics is very concerned about patient autonomy, the right of every patient to determine his or her own medical care, which, to be internally consistent, would include voluntary termination of life.”
For many physicians, however, the issue of assisted suicide is not so clear-cut. “If we continue to let patients suffer when our pain control measures have reached their limit, aren’t we causing harm?” asks an internist. “If we put a patient on a morphine drip and continuously increase the rate to maintain some degree of comfort, we can produce respiratory arrest. Isn’t that euthanasia? Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do if I lived in a state where euthanasia was legal.”
What is your opinion?