SCOTUS Opens This Week: Topic MD Ass't Suicide

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Annie, Oct 3, 2005.

  1. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    As noted, this is primarily a state's rights matter:

    http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/merc...s/california/northern_california/12804424.htm

     
  2. Mr. P
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    Mr. P Senior Member

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    Geeeeeeeeezzzzzz, what a way for Roberts to start a new job!
     
  3. speederdoc
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    speederdoc Member

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    My feelings are very mixed on this issue. Both sides make compelling arguments imo. If physician-assisted death is allowed, there needs to be extraordinarily stringent restrictions and safeguards placed on its use. I really would prefer that it not be allowed, which is the ultimate safeguard on preventing misuse.

    There are always ways to ease and even hasten patients' deaths without actually causing them.
     
  4. no1tovote4
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    no1tovote4 VIP Member

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    While I would prefer to 'die with dignity' rather than suffer for a long period I still don't believe that physicians should do this. I think it is a mistake to begin allowing such directed action to cause the death of a person by physicians.

    We can see the problems that will arise in the future by looking at many of the European nations that allow such things to take place. Especially among those where the goverenment covers insurance cost. Many times it becomes legislated when you will die rather than it being a choice of the patient. In the Netherlands there was a doctor that got away with killing babies after birth because they were malformed and their lives would be "hell" (as well as expensive).
     
  5. speederdoc
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    speederdoc Member

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    Those are some of the potential problems (this is another example of the "slippery slope"). A good physician and appropriate hospice care can enable patients to die with dignity and limited discomfort. I prefer to let a higher power than myself decide when it is someone's time to die. It's my job to decide when death is imminent and unpreventable, and make the process easier.

    Here is a related post I made on another board a while back:

    One thing I tell family members, if applicable, is that "he went quickly, without suffering." I don't think it is much consolation to those who haven't seen someone die slowly, with pain, but I tell them anyway. It's horrible how the most common cancers in men (prostate) and women (breast) both tend to go to the bones and cause unrelenting pain. Lung cancer is just as bad, if not worse, because those patients are often gasping for breath AND in pain.

    Oncologists do not like to discuss "end-of life issues" for the most part, I guess they see it as failure, or maybe they just repress it. When a terminal patient is near death, and they haven't been educated on their options, it is often left to me to help them through the process. The big question is always ventilator or no ventilator. Of course it is ridiculous to put a terminal patient on a ventilator so they can die in even more discomfort, and take longer to do so. But the (sometimes) tricky part is deciding when to give up all hope for cure or prolongation of life and focus on comfort.

    Giving up is not easy for some of these fighters, but eventually there comes a time. A recent patient of mine, a 44 year old woman, had breast/lung/liver/bone cancer, breathing (gasping)with only one lung (the other was filled with tumor and had long collapsed), exhausted all chemo options, too short of breath to lie down for radiation, couldn't hardly swallow (tumor squishing her esophagus), horrible pain. She was clearly dying, and was miserable. After a long discussion with her and her husband, they decided to focus on comfort rather than "cure." There is no cure for someone in that condition, except death. The nurses kept asking me, "Aren't you going to intubate her (put a breathing tube in)? She can't breathe! She's going to die!" All I could say was, "Yes she is. Give her some more morphine."

    I have had one or two nurses refuse to give morphine because they did not want to "cause a patient's death." They made me give it myself. They do not understand that you are not causing anyone to die, you are helping them through the process. I have never killed anyone, but I have hastened a few deaths in the course of easing some suffering, and I am proud of that.

    I don't think any physician wants to administer a lethal dose of medication, it is specifically against the Hippocratic Oath (so is abortion by the way, but that's another story):

    http://www.med.umich.edu/irbmed/eth...ippocratic.html

    Morphine is a wonderful drug, however, and ideal in many situations. If the patient and family understand that it will help their pain and may hasten their death (slows/stops breathing in high doses), and they want it given, then it should be given. There is no law against that. We don't need more laws, we need more reasonable physicians and nurses.
     
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  6. Hagbard Celine
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    Hagbard Celine Senior Member

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    I think there is a very good argument for doctor assisted suicides. Especially for those with terminal diseases. What's the basis for keeping this illegal?
     
  7. Nuc
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    Nuc Senior Member

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    Why should the doctors assist? Why not just do it yourself? The only negatives are that insurance sometimes doesn't pay out, and some religions consider suicide a sin.
     
  8. Mr. P
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    Mr. P Senior Member

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    Well, no need for me to post..you have said exactly what I've been composing this morning..If I were in the Docs' shoes I think I'd do the same. Then again, it is an end run around the issue, isn't it?

    This is such convoluted subject I think we must, in order to discuss it reasonably, take it one step at a time piece by piece..what do you think?
     
  9. Mr. P
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    Mr. P Senior Member

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    Every see the mess on the walls from a 12 gauge? :rolleyes:
     
  10. ScreamingEagle
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    ScreamingEagle Gold Member

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    God bless you for your good work. Death is not always easy and is hard for many to acknowledge but like you said, it can be made easier without deliberately killing the person and allowing them to go when they need to go. I agree that to have physicians deliberately put patients to death is wrong, and totally against their Hypocratic oath.

     

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