Physicians Aren’t Supposed to Kill their Patients

With the California legislature currently debating the legalization of physician assisted suicide, it’s significant that today’s Los Angeles Times profiles Dr. Ira Byock, the author of a number of books on end of life issues including Dying Well and The Four Things That Matter Most.

In the profile Byock says:

Physicians aren’t supposed to kill their patients.

Even with safeguards in place, assisted suicide puts vulnerable people at risk.

Approving the practice [of physician assisted suicide] sends a message that it makes more sense for the medical system to kill people than to do the hard work it must to make end-of-life care more effective and humane.

Compassion and Choices has created new meanings for the word ‘dignity:’ You have to die with your boots or your makeup on to be dignified. That makes me cringe. I think it’s an exercise in marketing that is devoid of social value.

As I say, it’s significant that the Los Angeles Times has published this profile. But I cannot help but wonder if this profile and these ideas will get the hearing they deserve.

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