Thursday, March 7, 2019

Fear is driving support for assisted suicide.

The following letter was published by the Baltimore Sun on March 5, 2019.

Dr Janet D Conway
As a physician, I have the ultimate respect for life. All my training over the last 30 years has been to promote, support and protect life. I am opposed to the recently renamed End-Of-Life Option Act (“Medically assisted suicide bill moves forward in Maryland General Assembly,” Mar. 1). Call it what you want, it’s still physician-assisted suicide.

I realize that no one can cheat death. That event will happen regardless. What is driving this unfortunate bill is fear. Fear of pain, fear of being a burden, fear of lack of control, fear of feeling hopeless and depressed. Only poor decisions can be made based on fear and lack of knowledge.

As a physician, it is my job to educate and support patients so that they live the completion of their life to the fullest. This means that I reassure them that their pain will be well-managed and follow through on resources to help them with this. They don’t have to live in fear of pain because we have tackled this problem head-on. I also can support my patients by giving them numerous resources to help them as they are sick and dying.

There are many agencies that will assist patients who need help at home when their families are not available to assist them. This includes hospice care. This alleviates the fear of being a burden to their families. There are so many ways to plan for one’s death naturally including, as my mother-in-law did, selecting the dress in which she was buried and asking her friend the priest to say her funeral mass. A patient is able to die in peace when they are not rushing to end their life because of fear.

Kind, caring, compassionate physicians are the ones who can really guide and help their patients navigate this.

Any doctor who chooses to assist his patient in taking his own life has preyed upon an innocent victim. How can anyone trust a doctor to be fully supportive of their health and well-being when they also have the legal right to kill? I did not spent 10 years in training to obtain a licence to kill. I do not support suicide and neither should your doctor.

Dr. Janet D. Conway, Baltimore

The writer is an orthopaedic surgeon and division head of bone and joint infection at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopaedics at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore.

1 comment:

Becky B said...

Thank you for your article Dr. Conway. I believe that a person should see their days out to their end. I have been with people while they are dying and it is such a natural process and they are in peace with the pain killers they are given. They had time for all of their family to come in and say their goodbyes. I think adding suicide to the death would make it very hard on the family. They might not say it to others after the death because it would be hard on all those involved. I would not go to a doctor who will provide or refer anyone for euthanasia. It is a conflict of what they are supposed to be. I have had experiences of doctors pushing their beliefs on their patients. The first being the doctor who told me that I should get an abortion because I was single and when I said no I didn't want that, he told the receptionist to tell me he didn't want to have me as a patient when I went to make my next appointment. The second time, I told my family doctor that my sister was dying from pancreatic cancer but because they gave her the Whipple procedure she lived for 4 more years and was able to see her daughter graduate from high school. He snarled at me that he wouldn't have done that procedure if he had it and that he would have just gone on a long trip. What an awful thing to say when I just said she got to spend more time with her daughter. She got to do a lot of things in those years. He would have wanted her to go ahead and die and would have influenced her to do that.

I don't think we should play God even with our own lives. And doctors are not always right because they are not God.

Thank you!