Backed with peer reviewed evidence, vignettes and common sense reasoning, Prof Toffler dispels the myths of euthanasia, such as: *it’s about pain*, *there are no problems in Oregon*, *accurate prognoses* and *euthanasia / assisted suicide expand patient choice*.
Dr John Hayes explains the fundamental shift in society and points out that the vast majority of people die with dignity with the assistance of Palliative Care Physicians who strongly oppose euthanasia. (Article per kind permission of Abundant Life Spring 2016).
Oncologist Dr Ian Haines describes how the harrowing death of his aunt 50 years ago influenced his thinking. His subsequent medical training and experience showed him the phenomenal advances in palliative care, and the importance of a fully informed detailed advanced care plan. (Article per kind permission of Abundant Life Spring 2017)
In an editorial for the Medical Journal of Australia, Dr Emanuel – chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania – writes that euthanasia and assisted suicide are not always quick and painless. All sorts of technical problems arise (such as finding a vein), which is aside from the nausea, vomiting and muscle spasms that have been documented to occur.
In 2017 a former Prime Minister weighed into the euthanasia debate in Victoria, warning that euthanasia always constitutes “an unacceptable departure in our approach to human existence and the irrevocable sanctity that should govern our understanding of what it means to be human.”
“Regimes in which euthanasia prevails create a contagion of killing, which travels far beyond the “limits” initially intended by its proponents. Early experience with assisted suicide laws indicates how these laws can easily be extended.” Arthur Goldberg and Shimon Cowen reflect on the Canadian experience of euthanasia, from a Jewish perspective.
One poll found that 70% of Americans supported ending “a patient’s life by some painless means” when they were suffering from an incurable disease. However, support dropped to 51% when Americans were asked whether they supported a request to “assist the patient to commit suicide.” It has never been more necessary to choose our words carefully.
Dr John Kleinsman is concerned that when words obscure rather than illuminate issues as complex as euthanasia, we are easily led astray. “This highlights the responsibility we all have, and politicians in particular, to ensure that the debate happens in a way that enables us to engage with the issue in all its complexity.”
Victorian palliative care expert Peter Hudson asks, “Why on earth – when most Victorians with a terminal illness and their family carers cannot access the standard of care they deserve – are we not putting all our efforts into remedying that situation rather than investing scarce resources into a highly questionable and untested model of euthanasia?”
John Watkins, a former NSW Deputy Premier and Chair of LCM Health Care, analyses the social risks of legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide. He warns that in legislating on the basis of emotive populism, “We will have changed what has been one of the most enduring moral rules to have guided humanity.”
As the Victorian ALP government considers the options to deliver “death with dignity”, Terri Kelleher gives on overview of the choices of lethal substances on offer, and why one might be chosen over another and what the possible side effects might be.
David Prueitt was so weakened from lung cancer that he could barely lift the glass to his mouth. He took the complete dose and slept soundly for 65 hours, only to wake up and ask “What the hell happened? Why am I not dead?”.
Tamara Tabo considers the different drug protocols that have been used to end lives, and notices similarities and complications across time and settings.
Nothing in medicine — not even simple blood draws — is without complications. Lots can go wrong during an assisted suicide: vomiting up the drugs, waking up instead of dying, or taking hours even days to die. This is just one of the four myths surrounding “physician assisted dying”.
Peer reviewed research found that the estimated suicide rates for Western Australian veterinarians is 4 times the age standardised rate for suicide in the respective state adult populations. Dr Rosie Allister acknowledged the emotional toll of euthanising pets, and the possibility that euthanasia can be normalised “as a solution sometimes to intractable problems”.
Many people’s fear of pain and suffering stems from a misunderstanding of just how good palliative care can be, says Dame Ilora Finlay. Many elderly have memories of what their parents and grandparents went through in the past, not realising how much has changed.
While WA debates euthanasia yet again, why did twenty-three US States vote not to introduce assisted suicide during 2017? J J Hanson believes it is because State legislatures chose to defend human dignity against the tidal view that says assisting suicide is cheaper than providing health care. The author has terminal brain cancer.
Not long before he died of cancer in 2011, Christopher Jones wrote “the law prohibiting assisted suicide is an essential bulwark against well-meaning but unwarranted judgements about the value of life and the desirability of ending it in order to minimise or eliminate suffering.”
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet voices a concern nagging at many of us: what will legalising assisted suicide say about our commitment to lower overall rates of suicide in WA? He warns: “we must not create a two-tier society of the worst possible kind: where there are those whose lives we desperately work to preserve, and those to whom we really will be saying, “You are better off dead“.
Aaron Kheriaty writes how depression is now the most common serious medical or mental health disorder in the United States. Due to a suicide epidemic of premature deaths, the overall life expectancy in the US has begun to decline for the first time since the 1930s.