Is physician assisted dying/suicide (PAD/PAS) just the first step onto the slippery slope of normalizing suicide? Should we democratize suicide for all autonomous citizens, stripping away the physician’s involvement and clearing the decks of the ruse of easily manipulated subjective criteria that PAD/PAS legislation has established in this country?
In the US, eight states and the District of Columbia have passed laws supporting PAD/PAS. New Jersey will become the ninth in August. However, at the American Medical Association (AMA) 2019 Annual Meeting, delegates voted overwhelmingly to affirm the current policy opposing physician-assisted suicide.
The current Code of Ethics states that “permitting physicians to engage in assisted suicide would ultimately cause more harm than good” and that “physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks…”
Advocates for assisted suicide tug at the heartstrings of those who need persuasion proclaiming this act is justified as a caring nation, utilizing the “intractable pain of the individual” argument. Research does not this argument. In fact, according to the Oregon Death With Dignity Act 2018 Data Summary,only 25.6% of respondents who opted into the PAS process cite pain or concern about inadequate control of pain as a reason. The top reasons from the Oregon report, a state with the most history, are:
Loss of autonomy (91.7%)
Less able to engage in activities (90.5%)
Loss of dignity (66.7%)
Feelings of being a burden (54.2%)
Losing control of bodily functions (36.9%)
Therefore, it is disingenuous and misleading to focus on pain. The vast majority of people jump to say “I want that pill” when hearing this as a justification for legislation, but they have only read the headlines. It’s an emotional reaction, rather than one based upon evidence…
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