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Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Assisted Suicide Answers: Part 1

08/24/2016 | Comments

I watched a loved one die in tremendous pain: I don’t want to die that way myself. 

In the past, some people did die in physical agony, since doctors didn’t yet have the means to alleviate suffering. Those means are now available.  Unfortunately, few medical schools offer courses in this area.

Those who’ve gotten up-to-date training in pain management know these techniques are highly effective.  Oncologist and pain specialist Dr. Eric Chevlen says that, even in rare cases when pain can’t be completely controlled, it can be reduced to 1 or 2 on a scale of 10…comparable to what we feel after shoveling snow. (Even Hemlock founder Derek Humphry admits virtually all pain can now be controlled.)

Those who are suffering need doctors who will kill the pain, not the patient. 

I think assisted suicide is especially important for cancer patients who are suffering.

In truth, cancer patients who’ve had significant pain in the last 24 hours are less likely than other cancer patients -- or the general public -- to favor assisted suicide.  (They may suspect that, with legal medical killing, those in the health-care system may not focus sufficient resources on pain relief or palliative care.)

This means that the only indication for assisted suicide which receives even close to majority support is the one rejected by the very patients who are actually experiencing the problem.

While some cancer patients might get relief, bone-cancer patients endure awful, untreatable pain. 

Although such pain requires multiple strategies and concerted effort by doctors, it can be significantly relieved.  Dr. Robin Bernhoft’s brother died of multiple myeloma which destroyed his spine and ribs.  (Bernhoft says it was the worst case he’d ever seen.)  But since the Mayo Clinic doctors treating his brother were true palliation experts, he was kept “very comfortable and very alert” throughout his illness. 

Just because a pain is untreated does not mean it is untreatable.

I don’t think people should be forced to stay alive.

Many think PAS is needed so patients won’t be cruelly kept alive by the latest technology.  But the law already allows patients to reject unwanted treatment…even if doing so increases the likelihood of death.

Neither law nor medical ethics requires that “everything be done,” against a competent patient’s wishes.

I’m opposed to government-mandated suffering.

To call opposition to medical killing “government-mandated suffering” is like calling bans on selling contaminated food ‘government-mandated starvation.’  Laws against assisted suicide prevent abuse and protect people from unscrupulous doctors and greedy heirs. They don’t make anyone suffer.

If we say suffering entitles someone to be killed, we’ll have to allow it for chronic as well as terminal illness, for emotional as well as physical pain, for incompetent as well as competent patients, etc.   (Wherever PAS has been legalized, there’s been this ever-expanding ‘pool’ of those eligible to be killed.)

I think I should be able to take a pill and slip peacefully away, surrounded by my loved ones.

This romantic scenario is part of the pro-euthanasia sales pitch.  But it’s not accurate. Ninety-nine percent of Oregon’s PAS deaths were caused by Secobarbital or Pentobarbital.  While the usual therapeutic dose for these barbiturates is 100-200 mg, the PAS dose is 9000-10,000 mg.  (Every one of those 90-100 capsules has to be emptied and mixed with something like applesauce.  It’s terrible-tasting, so you have to add lots and lots of sugar.  And all of the deadly mix has to be swallowed within two minutes.)

After ingesting the drugs, the victim may regain consciousness and suffer nausea, vomiting, or seizure. She may go into coma. (Dutch euthanasia activists admit such complications occur in one of five cases.)

I think the terminally ill, the elderly, and the disabled deserve a choice to die.

Choice is an appealing word, but health-care inequality is a harsh reality.  In this cost-cutting age, presenting all ‘options’ doesn’t mean patients can access them.  Like Oregon’s Medicaid recipients, patients may be denied coverage for physiologically-beneficial care but told insurance WILL pay for PAS.

It will always be quicker, easier -- and cheaper -- to kill than to care.

Addressing the issue of ‘choice’ from a personal perspective, Dana Palmer, who has Brittany Maynard’s brain cancer, says legal medical killing actually takes away a crucial choice…the choice to fight and live.  What it does, instead, is put the power in the hands of profit-driven doctors or over-burdened caregivers.

Suicide is always an awful tragedy to be prevented, not an admirable ‘choice’ to be celebrated.

I don’t understand why people are so concerned about somebody else’s personal decision.

While only a small number of people actually want PAS, legalizing the deadly practice will affect all of us.  With health-care rationing, widespread elder abuse, skyrocketing suicides, economic woes, and divisions of race, gender, religion, and class, PAS would be very bad medicine…and even worse public policy.


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