Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Book review: How Should We Then Die?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr Ewan Goligher
Ewan Goligher is an intensive care physician in Toronto and researcher who focuses on mechanisms of diaphragmatic dysfunction during mechanical ventilation.

I have had the pleasure of listening to several presentations by Dr Goligher and I have always appreciated his professionalism and his way of connecting to others.

Dr Goligher recently published the book - How Should We Then Die? which is a Christian response to physician-assisted death. 

Purchase - How Should We then Die? from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (Link to Purchase).

Instead of commenting on this insightful book I am sharing a few paragraphs from the book. In the chapter - Assisted Death Devalues People, Goligher writes:
In providing or administering the lethal agent, the operator inevitably expresses a belief about whether it is good for the person to exist. By intentionally causing the death of the person who has requested death from them, they show that they believe that it is good for that person not to exist. After all, we are supposed to call assisted death the right thing to do in such cases. ...

What then does this say about the value of those who receive assisted death or who are potentially eligible for assisted death in comparison to those who are not eligible? Those for whom existence is deemed optional cannot possibly have the same value as those for whom existence is deemed essential. And if he existence of some persons is regarded as optional, then they do not have unconditional intrisic value...
In the chapter titled - Escape From Despair, Goligher writes:
The desire for physician-assisted death should be understood as a cry of despair, a cry that cannot be ignored. To ignore that cry denies the worth and value of the sufferer just as much as causing their death denies that value. ...

Likewise, even if we have successfully shown that physician-assisted death is an inappropriate and unwise way to respond to suffering, out task is not complete. We have failed to truly care for our patients if we hear their cries of despair, their requests for death, and simply throw our hands up to say "Sorry, it's wrong for me to end you, so I can't help you." Rather we must probe the reasons for the request; we must understand the fears and the pain that lead to such a cry. And we must find a way to come to their aid. It remains to us to offer a better way for our fellow humans who find themselves in the crucible of suffering.
Purchase - How Should We then Die? from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (Link to purchase).


Anonymous said...

It is so encouraging to know that there are doctors out there with moral standards who are willing to speak out. Thank you Dr. Goligher.
God bless you for your courage 🕊

gadfly said...

I've read the first half of the book, and it's clearly written and well argued.