Ethics: December 2008 Archives

An expert on palliative care recommends that Oregon's physician-assisted suicide laws not be taken as a model for any practice in the UK. In sum: (1) Patients with suicidal thoughts need evaluation and treatment for depression. (2) Palliative services are more freely available in the UK than in Oregon. (3) The reasons death advocates present in favor of PAS laws are not the reasons why real patients actually kill themselves using PAS:

It is also commonly assumed that patients who carry out PAS must be suffering terrible pain.

However, the patients who use PAS in Oregon are generally not in pain, but wish to use PAS simply so that they can control the timing of their death.

The report found the major concerns of those undertaking PAS were loss of autonomy, being less able to take part in activities they enjoyed and loss of dignity (86%).[...]

Oregon physicians describe patients requesting PAS as having strong personalities, characterised by determination and inflexibility.[...]

The question here is not one of the patient's right to commit suicide, but whether this small group of people who have an exaggerated need for control have any right to demand the involvement of doctors, nurses and pharmacists in their suicide.

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

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This page is an archive of entries in the Ethics category from December 2008.

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