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Minnesota doctor calls assisted suicide ‘fundamentally incompatible with health care’

by | Jun 10, 2024

By Bridget Sielicki

In a recent op-ed, one Minnesota doctor spoke out against a state proposal to legalized assisted suicide.

“Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the ethos of health care and would be detrimental to Minnesota,” wrote Dr. Barry Larson, a board-certified family physician specializing in geriatrics, a medical specialty focusing on the care and treatment of the elderly. Larson said that in his years of practice, he’s seen many of his patients make “remarkable transformations” when they receive quality palliative care, which he says focuses on “alleviating suffering and enhancing comfort rather than hastening death.”

He’s also seen what happens when death is legally sanctioned — vulnerable populations, like those who are ill and elderly, begin to see suicide as an option they feel pressured to choose.

“The allure of a cheap and expedient death prescription threatens to undermine efforts to provide comprehensive care, especially for medically complex and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations,” he wrote. “This trend risks normalizing the expectation of premature death as a solution to perceived burdensomeness, perpetuating harmful societal attitudes toward vulnerable individuals. Personal autonomy must be contextualized within broader social dynamics, as choices are influenced by societal expectations and norms.”

He went on:

As resources become increasingly scarce, there’s a real risk that patients facing difficult conditions will receive inadequate symptom management, fueling a self-fulfilling cycle of despair and desire for death. Instead of embracing physician-assisted suicide, we should invest in enhancing palliative and hospice care, reaffirming the value of life and ensuring that all individuals receive dignified end-of-life care.

Larson’s warning is not a mere possibility; in Canada, where assisted suicide is widely available, many people have spoken out about receiving a quick approval for MAiD, the country’s assisted suicide program, whereas they find it difficult to get the actual health care needed to survive. Reports have shown that as MAiD deaths are rising, palliative care in the country is dwindling.

According to CBS News, this is the tenth year that Minnesota lawmakers are currently debating whether or not to legalize physician-assisted suicide. While many advocates are framing this legislation as a “choice,” opponents of the bill see otherwise.

“I fully believe that… this should not take place,” Sen. Paul Utke previously told CBS News. “Every life is a gift from God, and we want to do everything we can to extend that life.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Life Action News and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Assisted Suicide