There's been a lot talk about assisted suicide lately. Canada has even introduced some legislation on it. There's a lot of possible positions and items to be concerned about. However, one area really puzzles me. It is that position advocated by certain doctors and health professionals. It really does confuse me.
Starve Them To Death?http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-chiasson-physician-assisted-suicide-20160511- story.html
Heck, there was even the infamous
This is a common line of talk, I've heard from many doctors and hospice workers. It really does blow my mind. In a sense, their argument goes like this:
- The Hippocratic oath tells them to do no-harm
- There is no need to 'kill them'
- If you just deprive them of food and water, they will die naturally
If you have a child and you don't feed them, for all purposes, you are killing the child. A quick google reveals this is how society treats it.
We all know that not feeding or giving water to someone is going to kill them. I hate to break it to any of these hospice doctors, but if they're done this to patients, they have murdered them. Albeit in a much slower fashion that assisted suicide drugs.
I just don't understand how many people can advocate this method. If you compare assisted suicide versus starvation:
- In both cases you are killing the person
- In the assisted suicide case, the death is quick
- In the starvation case, the death is long
There was a time doctors would assume babies can't feel pain and they used to operate on them without anesthetic because doctors assumed they could not feel pain.
Are they seriously that confident in their own ability to judge how a person is feeling pain in their last days of life that this doctor can claim:
Here is the surprise: It is a pleasant way to go. Hunger is gone after the first three days. Really. And thirst can be managed by rinsing the mouth or taking ice chips.
Pardon me if I'm skeptical and will err on the side of allowing the patient to choose to receive a medically assisted death. I think we should be a little bit more concerned with the pain and suffereing of the ill instead of playing with congitive disonance to allow the doctor to feel as thought they have 'done no harm' by starving someone to death.
My General ViewI generally think assisted death is net positive legality in society. There are so many areas to worry about, but on the whole I'd rather have the choice. I find most of the arguments against it rather problematic in their own right; relying more on ideals than about dealing with reality.
Duty To Die
A common claim is that the right to die can become a duty to die as people will feel as though they don't want to be a burden on families or the government. They will feel pressure to take their own life instead of using up resources. This is definitely a valid worry, but it bares a few comments.
- As it has been legalized in various countries, there has just not been a wide spread duty to die issue. I think this is very similar to drug legalization. It is very easy to imagine worst possible outcomes. But they just don't happen. In many cases legalization improves the situation of the present.
- Let's remember all the harm that comes from the current drug situation. Thousands of young people being thrown in jail in drug chargers. Criminal gangs are empowered and enriched by the trade. Questionable quality of drugs results in deaths. The taboo might result in many not seeking treatment...
- Similarly there is a lot of harm in the current situation. Thousands of people left to suffer waiting to die. Medical professionals and staff might blur the line of legality to 'help someone die' without really doing it. Starving them of food or other such means.
- The resources of the imagined ideal are not there
- It is often said that there are better way to help people who want drugs. Typically these are people with issues such as mental health or who lack a purpose or future. The solution they say is to invest in these area so people don't want to take drugs. Great... that's a great goal. I fully agree. And when you accomplish that people won't want to take drugs! Yet, we're not there yet and government budgets struggle daily to accomplish even basic tasks, much less taking on such complex socio and economic challenges.
- This is mutually exclusive for legalizing drugs. You can legalize drugs and pursue a strategy to help people so they don't want to take them at all. Ideally in your imagined future, everyone is mental sane with a good purpose and no one will want to take drugs. But until you do create that utopia, it is probably best to have a legal means for people to use drugs.
- The same situation occurs of assisted death. People say it is the lack of resources or fear of being a burden that makes people want to have an assisted death. Perhaps that it is true. Give me a call back when government resources are infinite and people's time is infinite and they can take all the time off work to care for a loved one. Solve that problem and maybe you are right to say that people won't want assisted suicide. I still think many will, but let's play along
- This is mutually exclusive from legalizing assisted death. You can legalize assisted death and pursue a strategy to make sure people don't feel like a burden. But until you do create that utopia, it is probably best to have a legal means for people to end their life.
Life Lessons / ClosureAnother item I've heard talks about assisted death denying people life lessons. It denies people the knowledge of death. It denies the young the chance to see a person end their life slowly. It denies the chance to mend fences and resolve life issues.
There's probably some truth here as well. But it can really be said about a whole long of issues. War build brotherly bonds and you might gain an appreciation of life. You can also just end up bitter, violent, and hateful. I'd say the same is true of death. Some might gain new insights or be able to resolve their life long problems. Others might just end up bitter and hateful.
There's also the possibility that assisted death will actually make it easier for people to resolve issues. Knowing you are planning your death, many might make an extra effort to resolve the issues of their life.
In the end, I will err on the side of legality and leave the lessons of life to each their own. I will leave the regulation on the duty to die to be managed by society; like so many things. If we start to see massive numbers of people opting for it, maybe we have a look at it a bit closer or invest more resources in the sick.