Monday, June 21, 2021

Reject assisted suicide and improve end-of-life care in Connecticut.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The CT Mirror has published an excellent article by Dr's Andre Sofair and Barry Wu urging Connecticut to improve end-of-life care rather than legalize assisted suicide. 

Sofair and Wu argue that since the Connecticut legislature debated assisted suicide bill HB 6425 which died in committee  now Connecticut can use this opportunity to improve end-of-life care.

They offer several reasons why legalizing assisted suicide is wrong. They state:
First, our ability as physicians to determine the timing of death in the setting of illness is imperfect. Both of us have cared for patients diagnosed with “terminal illnesses” by multiple specialists who entered and eventually left inpatient hospice units to live many fulfilling years with their families.

Second, safeguards are ineffective. ...A recent medical paper even described 53 cases in the Netherlands where patients were requesting euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide for non-life threatening conditions including visual impairment, hearing loss, chronic fatigue, incontinence, or recurrent falls. In Oregon, less than 5 percent of assisted suicide cases were referred for psychiatric evaluation.

Third, medical care has improved dramatically. With advances in expert diagnosis, palliative, psychiatric, and hospice care both in the hospital and at home, we simply do not see patients who die in intractable pain or without dignity when given the appropriate medical and supportive care.

Fourth, the qualifications of a responsible attending physician are not clearly specified in the bill. This is concerning as physicians with limited experience in the practice of medicine would be able to give patients access to life-ending medication.

Fifth, physicians are obligated to care for their patients under all circumstances... Our work, as physicians, is to walk with our patients and their families, both when the patient is well and when they are ill, not to give them medications for the sole purpose of ending their lives. With regards to our responsibility to families, a Swiss study showed that 20 percent of patient relatives who died following assisted suicide in that country demonstrated full or partial post-traumatic stress disorder and 16 percent had symptoms of depression for up to 2 years following their loss, rates higher than in the general population who had suffered a natural loss. What our patients and families need is, in the words of Dr. Diane Meier a geriatrician and palliative care specialist, a, “meaningful and committed human connection-not 2 grams of secobarbital” at the end of life.
They finish their article by challenging every state to reject the legalization of assisted suicide. They state:
The practice is simply the wrong first step in a perilous direction and will make patients suspicious of our intentions at the exact time that they need us most.
More information on this topic:
  • Five reasons to oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide (Link).
  • 12 myths about about assisted suicide and medical aid in dying (Link).


dymphna said...

Only God can give life and only God can take it away!

Eunice Lozano said...

Blessings from above! Absolutely right!