A doctor’s view: ‘I do not support legalising assisted dying’

Stuff co.nz 1 February 2016
Dear Stuff community,

As a doctor, I do not support legalising assisted dying.

I recognise that people on both sides of this debate have compassion for people who are suffering and want to help them. The main difference in opinion is the way in which we think our society and government should go about that. We all value autonomy/choice, although I would add that it is not the only ethical principle at play. This issue is complex and multifaceted.

I also realise that this issue is a deeply personal one for many people. However, I do not believe the effects of a law which provides a mechanism for assisted suicide will only affect those who choose to use it.

I am speaking as a doctor who has cared for people with terminal illnesses and debilitating chronic illnesses both in general practice and the hospital setting. I have, at times, visited patients in their homes to provide symptom relief and other support as part of a palliative care service. Providing support for patients with end-stage cancer and other disease is a weekly if, not daily part of my job.

I am grateful to live in a time when great progress has been made in palliative care. From what I have seen and what I am told by others with more experience in palliative care, it is rare for people to die in physical pain or suffering from other unpleasant symptoms (such as nausea or breathlessness) as these can usually be controlled with medication. For those reading this who have watched a love one die where these things were not adequately addressed, I am sorry that you and your loved one went through that. Better access to doctors and nurses skilled in end of life care may have prevented this.
READ MORE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/euthanasia-debate/76441518/a-doctors-view-i-do-not-support-legalising-assisted-dying

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