OrthodoxyToday.org
Commentary on social and moral issues of the day


First, Do Harm...

Wesley J. Smith

  • Print this page
  • Email this page
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Bookmark and Share

A betrayal of the hospice movement.

The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine has just released a position statement on the issue of physician-assisted suicide, in which it abdicates its core professional responsibility. On the impropriety of permitting doctors to help kill their patients, the association has assumed a position of "studied neutrality."

One of the AAHPM's stated missions is to engage in "public policy advocacy" for hospice and palliative care. Assuming a neutral stance on what may be the most important public policy controversy of our day involving dying people is both a cowardly act and a backdoor repudiation of the long-established philosophy of hospice care, which promises to respect the intrinsic value of each patient's life and to care for dying patients until their natural deaths.

In its "Position Statement on Physician Assisted Death" (PAD is the reigning euphemism for physician-assisted suicide, allowing doctors to pretend they are not participating in the intentional killing of patients), the AAHPM approaches the entire topic with willful naiveté. For example, it states:

Excellent medical care, including state-of-the-art palliative care, can control most symptoms and augment patients' psychosocial and spiritual resources to relieve most suffering near the end of life. On occasion, however, severe suffering persists; in such a circumstance a patient may ask his physician for assistance in ending his life by providing Physician-assisted Death.

But Oregon's experiment with state-sanctioned assisted suicide has demonstrated that "severe suffering" is not the cause for most requests for assisted suicide. Rather, patients usually ask for lethal prescriptions due to loss of autonomy, fear over being a burden to their families, losing the ability to engage in enjoyable activities, and losing dignity. These are all important issues, and it is incumbent upon doctors to help patients overcome them. But they do not reflect the severe physical suffering the AAHPM presumes would cause their patients to request assisted suicide.

Read the entire article on the Weekly Standard website (new window will open).

Posted: 15-Mar-07



Copyright © 2001-2014 OrthodoxyToday.org. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article is subject to the policy of the individual copyright holder. Follow copyright link for details.
Copyright © 2001-2014 OrthodoxyToday.org. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article is subject to the policy of the individual copyright holder. See OrthodoxyToday.org for details.


Article link: