Monday, April 22, 2024

Doctor comments on the Illinois assisted suicide proposal.

The following Letter to the Editor was published on April 20, 2024 by The News Gazette.

As a physician, I would like to share my perspective on physician-assisted suicide.

While I agree with common concerns like abuse, misdiagnosis, medication issues and lack of safeguards, I want to focus on another aspect, especially from an emergency physician’s standpoint.

With over three decades of practicing emergency medicine, I have encountered numerous patients at the end of their lives. In emergency medicine, our aim is to cure whenever possible, but above all, to provide care. Sometimes, this entails accompanying patients and their loved ones on their journey towards the inevitable end of life.

Reflecting on physician-assisted suicide, it is impossible to ignore that facilitating a patient’s death contradicts the fundamental principles of medical care, upheld from antiquity to modern medical science. It is disconcerting to see physicians suggesting or providing a direct pathway to end a patient’s life, thus neglecting their duty of care, even towards those with terminal conditions.

Physicians advocating for physician-assisted suicide lack coherence in their justifications, citing reasons such as “dying with dignity” or alleviating suffering by ending life.

Instead of delving into comprehensive approaches to pain management, addressing social support deficiencies, or exploring the psychological, spiritual and emotional aspects of patients’ suffering, they advocate for the ultimate shortcut — facilitating death as the solution.

Redirecting resources from initiatives for physician-assisted suicide toward research for better end-of-life care, enhancing mental-health resources and optimizing pain management would better serve patients and society.

We must reconsider this tragic deviation from our responsibility as healers and stewards of health care.




Anonymous said...

Thank you Dr. Tudor for speaking for the fundamentals of the art and science of medical practice and the care of vulnerable people at the end of their earthly life’s journeys! I agree with your suggestion of redirecting resources for more research on the end of life care, pain management and mental health care. We should strive to be a society defined by how we care for the most vulnerable, not by eliminating them.

James Leonard Park said...

Sometimes the doctor's duty to care will include SHORTENING THE PROCESS OF DYING.