Dr. Philip Dreisbach, a California oncologist and hematologist, recently wrote an excellent and compelling piece on the dangers of physician assisted suicide. Unfortunately, the article remains locked behind the Wall Street Journal’s pay wall. Allow me then to highlight a few sections of Dr. Dreisbach’s writing, quoting from it more extensively than I normally would.
He skillfully moves back and forth between highlighting problems specific to California’s recently enacted assisted suicide law and addressing larger issues with the very notion of physician assisted suicide.
Killing is never medical care. There is no circumstance when any compassionate, competent physician would prescribe a deadly drug to any patient. If “medical practice” has any meaning, it definitely does not include using drugs to willfully kill a patient or for a physician and pharmacist to supply a lethal drug so that a patient can kill himself.
This is a vitally important point. Physician assisted suicide violates the Hippocratic Oath and its primary commitment to do no harm. Assisted suicide is totally incompatible with the practice of medicine.
In addition, legalizing assisted suicide undermines the viability of suicide prevention efforts by sending a mixed societal message, namely, that there are situations in which suicide is acceptable.
I want to be clear: suicide is not the answer, no matter what the situation. Please reach out for help. You’re not alone. Confidential help is available for free. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Make no mistake, behind the push for assisted suicide is a powerful, well organized, well funded, and highly manipulative campaign.
One must ignore the false rhetoric, the clawing propaganda, used by the death-by-drugs advocates. Terms like “death with dignity” and “compassion in dying” are meant to obscure the fact that these death-march ideologues are targeting the doctor to become an instrument of death.
Ultimately, assisted suicide leaves some of the most vulnerable among us unprotected. How long will it be before for-profit healthcare and insurance companies see physician assisted suicide as an inexpensive alternative to providing services to those whose treatment is most expensive?
And physician assisted suicide heightens the risk of coercion by family or friends who seek financial gain and other benefits to those left behind. In fact, Dr. Dreisbach points out that under California law, “heirs and the owners of caregiving facilities [are allowed] to formally witness such requests [for assisted suicide], even though the probate code does not even accept ‘interested’ parties as witnesses to a will.” This is why he and five other physicians have sued to try and block California’s assisted suicide law on equal protection grounds.
Equal protection is not a mindless bumper-sticker slogan. It is a pillar of state and federal constitutions and must not be corrupted. Under the law, equal protection must apply not only to the healthy and able but to the most vulnerable—the unhealthy, the disabled, the elderly—and all who might fall victim to those peddling physician-assisted killing.
If you have access to the Wall Street Journal, I encourage you to read the entire piece: “Why Are They Trying to Make Us Kill Our Patients?” by Philip B. Dreisbach, July 24, 2016
Wall Street Journal, please make this article freely available to everyone!
For more on assisted suicide and euthanasia see our statement, “Why the CBC Opposes Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” and download our one page PDF, “What’s Wrong with Physician Assisted Suicide?“