23 Mar Letter to the editor: No place for physician-assisted suicide – News-Sentinel.com
As a physician, I was very encouraged to see the Indiana State Medical Association (ISMA) not only reject physician-assisted suicide but positively reaffirm its long-standing opposition to the practice of helping to kill your patients. Physician-assisted suicide has no place in society and cannot become a role of the physician. The cure for suffering is not to eliminate the sufferer. We live in a time during which the government and insurance companies are continuously attempting to find ways to control the cost of health care in America. We also know that a great deal of medical dollars are spent at the end of life. Physician-assisted suicide quickly becomes a thinly veiled attempt at cost control.We have seen this already in Oregon with the patients that were told that their insurance would not pay for cancer treatment but rather would pay for assisted suicide drugs. Any expansion of physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia would further marginalize the vulnerable patients in our society, especially the poor and those with disabilities.
For the last 2,500 years, physicians have professed the Hippocratic Oath, which explicitly forbids physician-assisted suicide. The cornerstone of medical ethics, “primum non nocere” (first, do no harm) is essential to the physician’s role as healer. Patients deserve physicians who will always seek to heal and never to intentionally shorten their lives.
By utterly rejecting physician-assisted suicide, the ISMA reaffirms its dedication to excellent, quality and professional care that is rooted in the respect for the lives of all Hoosiers.
Andrew J. Mullally, M.D.