|Dr Lise Poirier-Groulx |
with Alex Schadenberg
I am a concerned physician… Je suis un médecin, troublée, comme bien d’autres, par la tournure des évènements, concernant l’euthanasie et le suicide assisté.
Throughout the history of the civilized world, Physician Assisted Death has always been a forbidden medical act. The foundation of medical ethics is being shaken to its core.
Today, I hope to be a voice for those who’s lives are deemed “lacking in dignity and not worth living”; the sick and dying patients, and those living with disabilities, as well as dementia. The implication of Physician Assisted Death is the unspoken assumption, under the guise of self-determination, that it is better to die than to live with a disability.
Comme médecin de famille et psychothérapeute depuis plus de 30 ans, j’ai eu le privilège, auprès de mes patients, d’être témoin de leurs plus grandes souffrances.
It has been my clinical experience, which is supported by research, that the overwhelming majority of patients do not want to die. They do however want to end their pain; succumbing to despair and hopelessness they may want to end their lives, especially if they are lacking in support.
I remember as naïve medical students, the faith we had in our mentors, who were teaching us the art and science of Medicine, in order to “cure disease, save lives and relieve human suffering”. And that is exactly what we set out to do upon graduation.
La plupart de nous avons pris notre serment d’Hippocrate au sérieux. Comment pouvons-nous donc maintenant nous réconcilier au dilemme qui nous est présenté?
Times have changed…In this time of great scientific discovery, medical treatment has become highly sophisticated; pain and suffering are being managed like never before… And yet… isn’t it ironic that it is precisely at this time in history, that we are removing the legal safeguards against euthanasia and assisted suicide?
Physicians are put in a position of having to decide, without precise scientific guidelines, who will receive suicide prevention and who will receive suicide assistance; the main criteria being disability. Assessment of “life span” is notoriously lacking in precision, and evaluation of “quality of life” is consistently misjudged. Without explicit legal parameters to protect vulnerable individuals, this sets the stage for discrimination and abuse.
Très tôt dans ma pratique médicale, j’ai pû observer de façon remarquable, que les gens les plus heureux n’étaient pas ceux qui avaient le moins soufferts.
Dr. Scott Kim, with his team of researchers, has examined euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in the Netherlands (JAMA Psychiatry, Feb 10, 2016) and he states:
“There is no evidence base to operationalize “unbearable suffering”, there are no prospective studies of decision-making capacity in persons seeking euthanasia and assisted suicide for psychiatric reasons.”Since most diagnoses of “grievous and irremediable medical conditions” are initially accompanied by acute psychological distress which often results in depression, the assessment of the decision-making capacity of an individual is fret with uncertainty.
Dr. Victor Frankl, le neurologue et psychiâtre, autrichien, un survivant du camps de concentration de Auschwitz, dit: “…Et si la vie a un sens, il faut qu’il y ait un sens à la souffrance… La façon don’t un être humain accepte son sort et toute la souffrance que celà implique… lui donnent amplement l’occasion – même dans les circonstances les plus difficiles – de donner un sens plus profound à sa vie. Il peut alors agir avec dignité…”
I would like to end my statement with the words of my patients, those whom I have accompanied when they were suicidal. I was stunned to hear them say to me afterwards:
“Thank you doctor. You saved my life when I wanted to end it.”Lise Poirier-Groulx MD FCFP, CGPP, CCFP