Medical aid in dying can never be endorsed
With its Sept. 15 editorial decrying the recent New York State Court of Appeals decision against physician-assisted suicide, The News editorial board abandons some of the very groups it has championed in the past: the seriously ill, the elderly, the handicapped, those suffering from depression. It is blindly naive to think that patients in these groups will not be pressured and deceived into “choosing” death under legal assisted suicide.
Assisted suicide inevitably expands to kill many more people than the rare patient with fully treated but intractable pain at the end of life, for whom The News editorial advocates. This is clear from the Oregon statistics, testimonials from families and news reports from places such as Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands, where assisted suicide has brought outright euthanasia, voluntary and not-so-voluntary.
Who is dying? Do a search. It will shock you. And for the patient with severe end-of-life pain? There is the very ethical option of terminal sedation, in which pain is treated even to the point of sedation, rather than killing the patient intentionally. If a dying loved one is suffering, it is time not for suicide, but for a new doctor: a palliative care specialist. Or two. Suicide for any reason does something bad to patients. And to families. The News should advocate for medical aid in living, not aid in dying.
Stanley L. Bukowski, M.D.