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multiple29-Sep-2012ethics/moralityMaarten by votes33260.9%


Should physicians be authorized to prescribe a lethal dose of a drug for the purpose of suicide?

8Yes, but only for those who are incurably sick, not for depressed people
7Yes, people should have the opportunity to take their own lives. Physicians can help them with that.
5No, facilitating people to die is not a physician's job
5I have something else to say
2No, because only God decides who dies and who does not
2No, because murder is illegal no matter what
1No, for another reason
1I have no opinion
0Yes, for another reason
0No, everything should be done to prevent people from killing themselves, not helping them

posted 29-Sep-2012 10:27am  
Putting this on physicians seems unkind to physicians.
Biggles Bronze Star Survey Creator
posted 29-Sep-2012 11:27am  
No individual doctor should be able to make this decision. Only a power-hungry, egotistical, fool of a doctor would want sole responsibility for a decision like this.

I am not entirely opposed to the idea of a doctor prescribing something to enable a person to commit suicide as long as that person was able to persuade a team of doctors, psychiatrists/psychologists, ethicists, legal experts. possibly a judge etc. that this was truly what they wanted. I would probably be opposed to it if I felt it was being made available to those who had a treatable illness (which would usually include depression) or where reasonable palliation of symptoms had not been tried first. For example, someone who was experiencing chronic pain that they felt made their life not worth living who had not had the opportunity to try the full range of pain control therapy that is available might reconsider if their pain could actually be improved.

My job is not to save lives. My job is to alleviate suffering and to do what is in the best interests of my patient. I've seen numerous cases now where withdrawal of active treatment to allow someone to die was clearly appropriate. I can also think of cases where active treatment went on for too long, but I'm struggling to think of a single patient that I have met in the last seven years who I think would have benefited from being assisted to kill themselves. That's not to say that it doesn't happen, but that it is probably rare enough that doctors wouldn't have sufficient experience to be confident they were doing the right thing.
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
posted 29-Sep-2012 11:55am  
Yes. Everyone has the right to take their own life; if a person is unable to do so personally because of severe illness or disability, then they should absolutely be able to enlist the help of a doctor. In fact, I think it is more unethical to deny them this right, since it amounts to preventing them from exercising their right to die because they have a disability. In the US at least, the Americans with Disabilities Act should cover this.
posted 29-Sep-2012 2:06pm  
Yes, with some stipulations and regulations.
posted 29-Sep-2012 2:15pm  
posted 29-Sep-2012 2:59pm  
No it is just plain wrong for doctors helping out suicide patients no way should they be authorized as Dr. Jack Kevorkian found out and is now spending time in prison
(reply to JessicaWoman99) posted 29-Sep-2012 5:39pm  
Doctor Kevorkian is no longer spending time in prison. He was paroled in 2007 and he died about a year ago.
posted 29-Sep-2012 7:13pm  
No, for me there can be no compromise when it comes to the sanctity of human life.
posted 30-Sep-2012 8:02am  
I don't see any clear answer to this.
I don't agree with either side in the absolute. I also don't love any of the compromises.
This may be an issue that is best left unexamined. Maybe it's none of my business.
We shouldn't attempt to force some generalized legal framework on to it.
I think we have or had a kind of equilibrium in which assisted suicide is illegal but very likely happens anyway yet is not prosecuted in most cases.
This ambiguous state allows for localized enforcement/judgement to be made depending on the specific case.
jettles Survey Central Subscriber
posted 1-Oct-2012 5:15am  
I believe that an adult person with a fatal disease who wishes to choose their own time to die as oppose to a lengthy painful death or a death after losing the ability to choose for yourself should be available to those people. And if the best way to do this is through a physician, then yes I do think so.
jettles Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to Biggles) posted 1-Oct-2012 5:23am  
my problem with a panel of physicians and/or judge/legal avenues is that you have now taken the "decision" once again out of the hands of the person who should be the one to make the ultimate decision. I know this is a very difficult situation but I do believe it happens more often than most people are aware. I, too, work in health care and know that in many cases we "treat" much longer than we should because we can, not because it is benefiting our patient populations.
posted 1-Oct-2012 12:59pm  
Even though i'm not against euthanaisa, but a physician's job is to cure people not to help them die. I can't imagine Euthanasia 101 as a university course.
Biggles Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to jettles) posted 1-Oct-2012 2:25pm  
I'm all for patients having sovereignty over their own bodies, and if the person could carry through their decision for themselves, then of course the ultimate decision should rest with them (assuming they have capacity to make that decision). If they need to involve other people in that decision, then unfortunately I don't think the ultimate decision can rest with them alone. As dab said, I don't think it is fair to expect someone to take sole responsibility for colluding in something like this. Would you feel comfortable prescribing something lethal for one of your patients without anybody else's input? I'm not saying it's fair for the patient but I don't see a good alternative.
(reply to Biggles) posted 1-Oct-2012 3:49pm  
Well, the solution to the specific problem you present is simply to let people have access to the drugs they need or want without having to go through physicians first. In general, I think that would be a good idea anyway, as well as the moral way to do things, but there are a few problems with it and I actually think this is one of them. Given how permanent the action is and how vulnerable people might well be subject to improper persuasion, it does seem like it might be better to put some sort of barrier in place. However, it's hard to see how literal death-panels could be a good idea either.
Biggles Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to dab) posted 1-Oct-2012 4:04pm  
I've seen many, many more people who would be in danger of harming themselves from making lethal drugs readily available than could possibly be benefited by them. And many people in the throes of illness lack the capacity to make the decision to end their life which is why access to lethal drugs would, at the very least, have to be granted on the basis of a formal capacity assessment.

I'm not talking about dedicated death panels necessarily, but I do think that it's reasonable for someone to have to jump through a few hoops to prove that they are serious about a decision like this. It's not dissimilar to the requirements placed on transgendered people before they are able to proceed with gender reassignment surgery.
(reply to Biggles) posted 1-Oct-2012 4:12pm  
Yeah, that sort of argument always sounds so reasonable and it always turns out badly.
Biggles Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to dab) posted 1-Oct-2012 4:30pm  
And letting anyone and everyone have access to drugs that will easily allow them to end their lives always ends so well.
posted 1-Oct-2012 7:20pm  
Some people are alive simply because it is against the law to kill them...we need to get rid of that law. Doctors should be able to put people out of their misery, we do it for dogs and other animals, so why not humans.
(reply to Biggles) posted 1-Oct-2012 8:44pm  
Not always, of course.
jettles Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to Biggles) posted 3-Oct-2012 10:36am  
No, I probably wouldn't but I understand their need to ask for something. Here in the US at least and maybe it is only in my hospital but that doesn't seem to be the case, we treat and treat and treat and the physician sometimes has to be pushed to discuss stopping with patients and families. I work in a children's hospital so it is families and patients. We definitely need more education for our population about end of life care and dignity at the end of life. I still find many people believing that we can cure everything if you try hard enough and the stopping is giving up. I sometimes feel like we flog our patients because we can keep things going but without any hope of changing the outcome. I have always worked in Intensive care so we see worst cases. I really am not a cynic in my job and I work hard for my patients but alas....... not everything can be cured or fixed and that doesn't mean the patients should die in pain, physical or emotional pain. And you are correct there probably isn't a good alternative.
Biggles Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to jettles) posted 3-Oct-2012 2:51pm  
I suspect we may be a little better at withdrawing treatment in the UK because there's been a big push in recent years towards recognising and managing the end of life. Still, there have definitely been cases I have seen where with hindsight, active treatment went on for too long. I think there's a lot of acceptance amongst medical doctors here that most treatment is largely palliative, but I don't think that tends to be the surgical mindset because they manage to outright cure far more of their patients than medics do. Intensive care must give you a lot of insight - so many patients are denied access to intensive care because their chances of getting better are too low, but once they are deemed suitable, it must be quite difficult to stop treating.

I think there's a lot more openness about these things than there used to be and that has to be a good thing, right?
(reply to dab) posted 4-Oct-2012 5:25pm  
Oh I forget yes your right he died Kevorkian is in the afterlife somewhere floating around?
jettles Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to Biggles) posted 6-Oct-2012 7:44am  
yes, definitely!
posted 6-Oct-2012 9:58pm  
I wouldn't be fussed if a hospital patient had control over their own IV drip. I don't like the idea of doctors wandering around hospitals delivering syringes full of death; it doesn't strike me as very Hippocratic.
posted 10-Oct-2012 8:30am  
Yes, the right to die in supported circumstances is as important as the right to live.
posted 31-Oct-2012 5:35pm  
Incurably sick, not depressed people. But I wouldn't leave it in the hands of just one physician either.
(reply to Enheduanna) posted 31-Oct-2012 5:39pm  
> Yes. Everyone has the right to take their own life; if a person is
> unable to do so personally because of severe illness or disability,
> then they should absolutely be able to enlist the help of a doctor.
> In fact, I think it is more unethical to deny them this right, since
> it amounts to preventing them from exercising their right to die because
> they have a disability. In the US at least, the Americans with Disabilities
> Act should cover this.

What kills me most (excuse the unintentional pun) is when a terminally ill person is kept alive, against his or her will. Some believe that we have no right to take life but who gave them the right to give it? If you're religious; shouldn't that be God's job?
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to Irene007) posted 1-Nov-2012 11:52am  
Exactly. I've read that in some cases the issue is that the person is depressed and that's what is driving the desire to die. And in general I think it's right to try to prevent depressed people from killing themselves. But it seems to me that it's a different thing if the person is depressed because of a terminal illness (which I think would be pretty depressing!).
(reply to Enheduanna) posted 1-Nov-2012 2:03pm  
From my experience and observations; there seems to be a kind of peace that comes right before death, an acceptance if you will. I suspect that dying is the ultimate and best release there is after we have served life's longing for life. I don't believe there's nothing after - I won't get into that now but I think the reason we can never know what's on the other side is because we'd all commit suicide to get there! Look at it this way; it can't be all that bad - everybody goes there! wink
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to Irene007) posted 2-Nov-2012 11:02am  
I think acceptance is likely in many cases, though maybe not in all. But I don't think that makes a difference in arguments about euthanasia.
(reply to Enheduanna) posted 2-Nov-2012 11:46am  
No it doesn't - it just got me thinking...

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