Sunday, January 2, 2011

Physician Assisted Suicide

Physician assisted suicide (PAS) is defined as the act of facilitating a patient's death by "providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the pt to perform the life-ending act." According to the AMA code of Medical Ethics, "PAS is fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as a healer."

One could carp up decent arguments against the AMA, but the stance towards PAS in the U.S will be slow to change because while public acceptance of this end-of-life intervention is growing (albeit slowly), much research is lacking on the attitudes of people towards PAS.

For the next 1.2 years I'll be working on my thesis dealing with this important subject. I plan to write a bit more about this topic in the future and hopefully raise awareness -- being objective while still putting my two cents (if that  makes sense :} )


Doctor Blondie said...

I live in Holland (you know, the country where euthanasia, prostitution and drinking at 16 is legal, and cannabis is pseudo-legal).

I think that the possibility to speed up the imminent, is the flip side of the life-prolonging-treatment coin. Just like death is the flip side of life. How can you respect life if you don't respect death? Life, especially human life, is more than a heartbeat and breathing.

I might end up performing euthanasia or PAS in my future role as a GP. If I do so, I do it out of respect for life.

If you really think about it, a great deal of our treatments are incompatible with our roles as healers. In fact, every treatment that will prolong life with no real chance of healing might be considered incompatible with our roles as healers, and in some cases we are merely inducing suffering. We soothe ourselves that there was a (small) chance that it would have done something good...
but really?
What is really in the best interest of this patient?

Shalla said...

Oh, this a soap box of mine :)

Life has a beginning and an ending. We should repsect death as we do birth. Making all efforts to avoid it is hardly proper. We induce labor to make birth come sooner; we stop preterm labor to make birth come later. We do those things to make it right. We should never be so arrogant as to assume that our profession, as "healers," is superior to the sanctity of life, the sanctity of every part of life, even the end.

Chakurino said...

Holland sounds like a blast... ahaha. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. "Life, especially human life, is more than a heartbeat and breathing"- I could not agree more with your statement.

Those are very poignant and thoughtful questions everyone should ponder. They open the discussion on what "respect for life" entails and also question the prevalent (traditional) views of PAS in our country.

Most of the research on this topic has been conducted in Holland which makes my study on this subject a tad difficult. We'll see how this project unfolds.

Shalla, it seems we share the same soapbox :)

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