Originally published July 31 2015
Handicapped people concerned that legalization of physician-assisted suicide would eventually target them for "voluntary euthanasia"
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The so-called "death with dignity" movement faces mounting challenges from a growing segment of society that sees it as a slippery slope towards "voluntary euthanasia." Patients who perceive that their quality of life is irrevocable might opt to end their lives prematurely, for instance, or physicians might encourage them to do so out of fear of chronic pain or disability, even if such outcomes never actually materialize.
The problem with ill patients choosing to end their own lives is that nobody can predict the future, not even doctors who give terminal diagnoses that may or may not come to pass. Such is the case of Chastity Phillips, who in 2002 was told that she had a 50 percent chance of surviving surgery for chondrosarcoma, a malignant bone cancer. At the time, Phillips' doctors told her that she only had six months to live, but 13 years have since passed and she's still alive and thriving.
Many others have similar stories of recovery that don't match what their doctors predicted, and yet the national conversation seems to be moving towards expanding the reach of "death with dignity" legislation to allow more patients to opt for voluntary suicide. Where does society draw the line, and to what extent should someone in chronic pain be allowed to decide his or her own mortality?
These are among the questions being asked as groups on both sides of the argument push for increased patient protection, albeit from different philosophical perspectives. For groups on the opposing side of the "death with dignity" argument, though, the answer is simple: Assisting patients with killing themselves grants physicians God-like status by allowing them to decide whether a patient lives or dies.
"The risk of mistake and coercion and abuse are really too great," suggests Diane Coleman, founder and CEO of Not Dead Yet, an advocacy group that works on behalf of the disabled to protect them against physician-assisted suicide.
"Death with dignity" legislation promotes careless attitude towards death, putting the elderly and disabled at riskThen there's the issue of "voluntary euthanasia," which is what opponents to "death with dignity" legislation warn will be the eventual outcome of such policies. Not knowing how individual patients will respond to treatment, some medical practitioners may actually encourage patients who might otherwise recover to end their lives - or worse, patients could even be coerced by doctors into killing themselves.
If a patient self-perceives herself as being handicapped or otherwise limited in quality of life, for example, she might feel as though all hope is lost and opt to just end it all. And in the hands of the wrong physician, such a decision might be supported, encouraging a culture of medicine where assisted-suicide and euthanasia are considered viable "treatment" options when certain health conditions become too difficult for patients.
"Assisted suicide is a deadly mix with our profit-driven healthcare system," contends Second Thoughts, a Massachusetts-based advocacy group that's been fighting "death with dignity" in the Bay State since 2011. "Assisted suicide saves insurance companies money."
Second Thoughts also presents other arguments against "death with dignity" legislation including the fact that it provisions for more abuse of people with disabilities, including the elderly. Mistaken diagnoses are also prevalent, which makes "death with dignity" legislation a threat to anyone who might become a victim of the corrupt medical system.
"Everyone already has the right to refuse treatment and get full palliative care, including, if dying in pain, pain-relieving palliative sedation," adds the group.
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