Friday, July 29, 2011

Legalizing assisted suicide is a mistake

I was cleaning up my emails and I came across this excellent letter to the editor that was written by Dr. William Toffler from Portland Oregon and printed in the Vancouver Sun on July 4, 2011. The letter was in response to the arguement by the BC Civil Liberties Association who are attempting to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada via the Supreme Court.

The letter by Dr. Toffler states:

I am a doctor in Oregon where physician-assisted suicide is legal. In my practice, I have discussed assisted suicide with more than a dozen patients. One of the first was with a man in a wheelchair with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis who asked me for assistance with his suicide.

I told him that I could readily understand his fear and his frustration and even his belief that assisted suicide might be a good path for him.

At the same time, I told him that should he become sicker or weaker, I would work to give him the best care and support available.

I told him that no matter how debilitated he might become, that, at least to me, his life was, and would always be, inherently valuable. As such, I would not recommend, nor could I participate in his suicide.

He simply said: "Thank you."

How we respond to someone requesting suicide can either reflect the person's inherent worth or can cause the person even deeper desperation. Patients can even feel pressured to proceed.

Under our law, there is no assurance that the deaths are voluntary. Don't make our mistake.

Link to the article

Doctor William Toffler is Director of Pre-doctoral Education within the Department of Family Medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University.

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