Monday, July 11, 2016

Switzerland needs to improve palliative care.

Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Editor in chief: Larissa Bieler
Today's editorial supports better palliative care in Switzerland where assisted suicide has become common. Editor, Larissa Bieler, examines the human reality in relation to assisted suicide as compared to palliative care and states:

The final act in assisted suicide ... is the taking of a lethal substance. It needs the patient’s active involvement. Or to put it another way: it’s a suicide for which the patient requires medical help to prepare. 
... Palliative care seeks to give some transparency to the issues of confronting death and the wish to die. It also aims to remove the taboos. There is an alternative. Suicide can be a long-term burden for loved ones and end up being an extremely ambivalent act for the patient. Do I want to go or not? 
... many terminally ill people are hit by the end of life question when they are in their prime. At that moment, the patient’s wishes are affected by many different influences such as other people’s opinions, or by values, beliefs and religion. Fear can also be a factor. Hence it is important to take time to recognise what people want in order to appreciate the full complexity of each individual’s fate. 
Palliative care is no panacea but it does allow an enlightened society to have a transparent discussion about death. ...In this moment of total dependence though, there are more humane ways to die than downing a cup of poison and simply fulfilling a desire for autonomy. If the absolute autonomy of our existence comes down to suicide, if the absolute ideal is to kill yourself, then this needs to be called into question, also in Switzerland. Assisted suicide must not simply become a routine affair.
The editorial supports assisted suicide, but it questions whether death by poison is part of an enlightened society.

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