“I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God’s blessing and God’s curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life.” Deuteronomy 30:19
Assisted Suicide and Physicians’ Conscience Rights:
Opponents of Physician-Assisted-Suicide (PAS) contend that doctors have a moral responsibility to keep patients alive as reflected in the Hippocratic Oath. They argue there may be a “slippery slope” from euthanasia to murder and that PAS will unfairly target the poor and disabled and create incentives for insurance companies to terminate lives in order to save money. (euthanasia.procon.org, 12/19/16)
This “slippery slope” argument is addressed by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, writing about ethics in the Atlantic Monthly, in which he affirms that there is a lesson to be learned from the Netherlands and Belgium, where there is widespread breach of legal safeguards leading to a sizable incidence of non-voluntary euthanasia. He fears the eventual outcome of PAS laws could be euthanasia of the demented, the mentally ill, the old, and others. (heritage.org, 3/24/15; cmda.org, 7/18/16)
A Warning from Canada:
The “Medical Assistance in Dying” report, February, 2016, recommended that all Canadian doctors have a legal duty either to provide assisted suicide or provide an “effective referral” to someone who will provide it. Recommendation 10 of the report recognizes there may be a direct conflict of rights and interests between a patient seeking suicide and a doctor with ethical and moral standards opposed to providing this option. However, Recommendation 10 subordinates the values, rights and ethical interests of the doctor to the wishes of the patient.
Many physicians in Canada warn of this “slippery slope” to the kind of social and medical ethics that corrupts and erodes the core virtues essential for survival of a free society. It would be wise to pay attention to what is happening in Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland, since already six American states (CA, OR, WA, MT, NM, and VT) have recently legalized physician assisted suicide. The New York State legislature is now considering a so-called “medical aid in dying” bill. (cnsnews.com, 3/18/16; stat news.com, 1/19/17; latimes.com, 5/16/16)