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A Medical Perspective on the assisted dying debate

by | Dec 2, 2021

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Canberra Times in Australia published an excellent opinion article by Dr. Paul Jenkins titled A Medical Perspective on the voluntary assisted dying debate. Jenkins writes:

For 2000 years physicians have rejected killing their patient as a means of relieving suffering and mental stress.

The most common reasons for people seeking euthanasia are loss of autonomy, loss of dignity and diminished quality of life, not unrelieved pain.

To be clear, consensual voluntary withdrawal of treatment is not euthanasia. Specialist palliative care, at home or in a hospice, provides staff experienced in pain relief and mental health care.

The long-term effects on the maintenance of caring, professional patient relationships of passing this legislation may include:

* Loss of trust in the medical profession. 

* Coercion by relatives to provide physician assisted suicide. 

* The creep to involuntary euthanasia (Belgium legalised euthanasia for children in 2014). 

* The gradual defunding of palliative care. 

* Intimidation of practitioners and facilities who maintain a conscientious objection to euthanasia.

The World Medical Association, comprising 114 countries, has reiterated its strong commitment to the principles of medical ethics, and that utmost respect has to be maintained for human life. Therefore the WMA is firmly opposed to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

The AMA’s position is largely in line with that of the WMA. I urge the Legislative Assembly to reject any such legislation.

Categories: Assisted Suicide
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