Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Death with (real) Dignity

The culture of death just keeps 'em coming! A friend of mine in New Jersey posted this on FB:
NJ Democratic Legislature set to vote on Physician Assisted Suicide: Despite the fact that suicide or assisting in it is illegal in NJ, A-3328 -- a bill authorizing assisted suicide -- has been released by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. S-2259, an identical bill, has been referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Services Committee. These bills would allow a person who has a "terminal disease" to request a prescription from a physician for lethal drugs that would end their life. "Terminal disease" is defined as "an incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgment, result in a patient's death." The New Jersey Catholic Conference invites us to oppose A-3328/S-2259.
About two weeks ago,  the Wall Street Journal had published an opinion piece on the recently enacted Vermont law, "passed by the state legislature...without consulting the electorate." The author of the piece is the former psychiatrist in chief of Johns Hopkins Hospital, responding to the most popular arguments in favor of assisted suicide. Noting the consistent appeal to "death with dignity," he hits the nail on the head when he observes, "Surely, what we want is 'life with dignity.' "

In regard to patients with painful cancers, "suicide is mentioned only by those patients with serious but treatable depressive illness, or by those who are overwhelmed by confusion about matters such as their burden on loved ones and their therapeutic options. These patients are relieved when their doctors attend to the sources of their psychological distress and correct them." It is precisely this kind of listening to the patient's needs that gets bypassed once assisted suicide is on the books. In Oregon "the law does not demand a psychiatric assessment before they take the fatal step. Yet all efforts by psychiatrists anxious to read the medical charts of these patients after their deaths have been thwarted by the champions of their suicides, who have shrouded the patients' mental states in secrecy by raising the 'privacy privilege.' I believe that these doctors are killing patients of the sort that I help every day."

Read the whole thing here, and share it on your social networks.


Anonymous said...

It's a slippery slope to the point where "incurable" includes chronic illness. My father was severely disabled with Multiple Sclerosis from age 29 until his death at age 84. The summer he turned 70 he required emergency surgery for ruptured hemorrhaging gastric ulcers. The surgeon argued against surgery, citing his existing disability, questioning his "quality of life". I argued for the surgery, knowing my father had a strong will to live. He lived an additional 14 years, thankful for his life and family. Had there been an official policy in place, I believe my father's life would have been snuffed out, as many unborn children's lives are terminated when a defect is detected upon ultrasound. - Jean

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

I'm with you and the doctor in the WSJ: what we really want is life with dignity!