October 10, 2012

"Why should doctors have a monopoly on undermining public trust in their profession by aiding suicides? Police and lifeguards could help out too." '

Why should doctors have a monopoly on undermining public trust in their profession by aiding suicides? Police and lifeguards could help out too.

Please Step Back From the Assisted-Suicide Ledge

In the November elections, voters in Massachusetts will decide on "Question 2," a ballot initiative to allow physicians to prescribe (but not administer) a lethal dose of a toxic drug to assist their patients in committing suicide. Advocates of physician-assisted suicide assure us that this can be a good choice for someone who is dying, or who wants to die.

If physician-assisted suicide really represents a good choice, we need to ask: Why should only physicians be able to participate? Why should only physicians be allowed to undermine public trust in their profession through these kinds of death-dealing activities?

Why not include police? If a sick person expresses a wish to die, the police could be notified, and an officer would arrive bearing a suitable firearm. He would load it with ammunition, cock the gun and place it on the bedside stand of the sick patient. After giving instruction on the best way to angle the barrel, the officer would depart, and the patient could then pick up the device and take it from there—police-assisted suicide.

The assisted-suicide paradigm readily admits of other creative approaches as well—we could sanction, for example, assisted drownings, with lifeguards asked to help those wishing to die by providing millstones to take them to the bottom of lakes and oceans.
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It is troubling how many individuals fail to grasp the absurdity of encouraging physician-assisted suicide. Suicide is no joking matter. Regardless of how it transpires, it is a catastrophe for those who end their own lives and for loved ones left behind.
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I remember reading a letter to the editor in the local paper of a small town many years ago. A woman wrote in about the death of her grandparents—well-educated, intelligent and seemingly in control of their faculties—who had tragically committed suicide together by drinking a deadly substance. They were elderly and struggling with various ailments.

Her firsthand perspective was unflinching: It took her years to forgive her grandparents. She was angry at what they had done to her and her family. She felt betrayed and nauseated. She could hardly believe it had really happened.

The woman was still upset that they hadn't reached out to the rest of the family for assistance. She dismissed the idea that suicide could ever be a good thing as a "total crock and a lie," noting how it leaves behind deep scars and immeasurable pain on the part of family and friends. Without demurring, she declared that we don't have the right to take our own lives because we didn't give ourselves life.
Posted by Jill Fallon at October 10, 2012 12:14 PM | Permalink