A Dance of Death

An article by Jean Echlin, A Dance of Death (via Alex Schadenberg):

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Lalonde’s bill states that “medical practitioners” will perform the death procedures. We have no right to ask our professional caregivers to provide us with death. Neither should they ever feel obliged or forced to comply with this request that goes against our essential humanity.

How would anyone know if the person coming into their hospital room with needle and syringe was intent on curing or killing?

This would destroy the trust relationship between patients, families, health care providers and institutions.

Programs of hospice/palliative care provide real hope for those with life-threatening or terminal disease. The cornerstone of excellence in these programs is the management of pain and other distressing symptoms (physical, psycho-spiritual and social). Quality end-of-life care is a priority. Unfortunately only 15 to 20 per cent of Canadians can access this care. Before any discussion of euthanasia or assisted suicide, all Canadians, regardless of age or disease, must have access to palliative care. To do otherwise simply provides a means of health care cost containment.

Recently in Oregon, Barbara Wagner, a 54 year old woman, was denied treatment for lung cancer because of cost, but was offered assisted suicide ($75) by the Oregon department of health. Barbara wanted to live. She has since died.

According to Canadian medical ethicist Margaret Somerville, “The proper goal of medicine and physicians is to kill pain. It is not their role to kill a patient with pain — to become society’s executioners — which is what euthanasia entails, no matter how merciful our reasons. Physicians (and nurses added) must provide adequate pain relief. Leaving a person in pain is really ‘torture by wilful omission.”

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Honestly, read the whole thing.

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