By RYAN WICKER
Today, dozens of doctors and allied health professionals from across New York State are in Albany to make the medical case against legalizing physician-assisted suicide. The medical professionals are meeting with elected representatives concerning the adverse impact assisted suicide would have on the medical profession.
Dr. David Kim, New York State Director of the American Academy of Medical Ethics (AAME), noted: “The New Yorkers most at risk from this legislation are the countless individuals who don’t have financial resources or health insurance, who may not have loving families, or good doctors; the elderly patients who may be suffering from depression; and people with disabilities who are already marginalized and discriminated against in our system of health care. These are some of the medically vulnerable people I serve in New York City and I don’t want to abandon them and their families when they are looking to me in their greatest need for support and loving care.”
Dr. John O’Brien of the Catholic Medical Association of Syracuse said: “For me to assist a patient in their suicide would undermine the trust and respect society has grown to expect from physicians. Not only for that patient, but every patient in my care. How could I logically, ethically and morally treat one patient while assisting another to commit suicide? How physicians respond to patients’ request for lethal drugs can have a profound effect on their patients’ choices as well as on their views of themselves and their inherent worth.”
Dr. Shari Falkenheimer, AAME member and ethicist, contends: “There are ethical concerns about the potential for the legal acceptance of suicide, even in limited areas, that makes the essence of this legislation problematic. This isn’t really about legally giving patients the ‘right to die’; this is really about legally enabling physicians to kill.”
Dr. Michael Brescia, Executive Medical Director of Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, said: “With appropriate pain management and palliative care, we can prevent patients from saying ‘I want to die.’ We need to better train medical professionals in palliative medicine and maximum symptom control in order to relieve terminal patients of their physical suffering. We need to provide more aid-in-living, rather than so-called ‘aid-in-dying’.”
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