Euthanasia safeguards will prevent elder abuse
As a physician, I would like to congratulate Daniel Wood on his very thorough review of the complex issues surrounding euthanasia [“ Whose death is it anyway?”, November 18-25]. Physicians, as well as promoting a healthy life, should try and give patients a dignified death at the end of life. Over the last 40 years, there have been great advances in palliative care services.
Mr. Wood extensively quotes Prof. Eike Kluge, who states that the medical profession has a “self-interested opposition to legal assisted suicide”. This is not the case.
However, the decision as to when a person can be actively “put to sleep” is a societal one and not one most people would want their physicians to make without proper safeguards and input from family and other professionals, as well as the patient. In Oregon, this has been done.
No one wants Dr. Harold Shipman in B.C. Dr. Jack Kevorkian served eight years in jail of a 10-to-25-year sentence for his promotion of euthanasia. Remember November 1997, when 60 policemen descended on Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Halifax to charge Dr. Nancy Morrison with first-degree murder after she was reported as six months previous having given a choking man some potassium to ease his dying, as no other medications were helping his pain.
When Canadians as a majority are ready to accept euthanasia and the appropriate safeguards against abuse are in place, physicians will also be ready. In my opinion, Prof. Kluge’s vilification of physicians is unnecessary.
> John Sehmer, M.D. / Vancouver