Searehing for the Sanctity of Life.

Position:MEDICINE & HEALTH - Physician-assisted suicide and abortion

Life is precious and fleeting. Once gone, you cannot get it back. The recent news has presented two ends of the spectrum: physician-assisted suicide and abortion.

Years ago, people found Dr. Jack Kevorkian's "death machine" ghoulish. He likely was well-meaning but misguided. Now, physician-assisted suicide is culturally acceptable and legal in several states. New Jersey is the latest to jump on the bandwagon that includes Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Montana. Maine's bill has made it to the governors desk.

Physician-assisted suicide (aka aid in dying or death with dignity) has an oft-used abbreviation (PAS) to mask a deed that runs counter to the command in the Oath of Hippocrates not to harm patients. Some reasonably argue that it is harmful to refuse to follow a patient's request to be irreversibly put out of his or her misery, but when does relieving pain--whether physical or emotional--transition into hastening death?

Some of these suicide laws have a requirement for counseling, but this can be merely one visit with a psychiatrist or psychologist. Moreover, the death may not be so dignified. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands found complications in seven percent of assisted suicide patients, including failure to remain unconscious, extreme gasping for air, vomiting, and muscle spasms. Physicians had to complete the procedure.

Did the cultural acceptance of physician-assisted suicide lead an Ohio critical care doctor to take it upon himself to end some of his patients' lives? His defense to the indictment on 25 counts of murder was that he was providing "comfort care" with massive amounts (up 10 to 40 times the therapeutic dose) of fentanyl. Merely because the patients were receiving palliative care did not mean they consented to lethal overdoses. Keep this in mind as Obama-Care --yes, it remains the law of the land --steers us toward hospice in our later years.

Simultaneously, several states have passed or introduced laws prohibiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Rep. Ilhan...

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