Thursday, January 7, 2010

Palliative care blog shares concerns for people with disabilities

A palliative care blog recently commented on my statement concerning the increased incidence of euthanasia in the Netherlands.

The blog stated:
Alex Schadenberg from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition blogged about the rise in deaths from euthanasia and physician assisted suicide in the Netherlands. He questions the lack of information about babies who die under the Gruningen protocol or the prevalence of disabilities or dementia in those who die from euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. Obviously you can tell by the name of his group where he stands, but I think these questions are important regardless of where you stand on this issue and as a matter of public policy in balancing the protection of some with the freedoms of others.

Link to the blog: http://www.pallimed.org/2010/01/palliative-care-grand-rounds-vol-21.html

I thank the writers of the blog for bringing up the issues in an honest manner, but I question their understanding of what euthanasia actually is.

The blog states:
"regardless of where you stand on this issue and as a matter of public policy in balancing the protection of some with the freedoms of others."

Since euthanasia is giving the physician the right to directly and intentionally take the life of their patient, therefore it really isn't an issue of freedom, but rather an issue of when physicians believe it is OK to kill and when they don't believe it is OK to kill.

3 comments:

John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

FYI...might be interested in the radio show I did recently re: Dr.-Assisted Self-Murder in Montana;comments welcome.

http://www.iotconline.com/radio/aview/TAV%20DrAsstMurder_Jan7.mp3

John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com

Communications Director, Institute on the Constitution

Host, “TheAmericanView” radio show

Recovering Republican

JLof@aol.com

Christian Sinclair, MD said...

Alex,

Thanks for commenting on the post. If you have any concern about understanding the definition of euthanasia, I would encourage you to look at other Pallimed posts over the past 5 years on the subject.

Palliative care physicians have a very good understanding of euthanasia and are more well versed on the subject than any other physician discipline since patients, family, and staff often bring up the concern/request about any hastened death. Knowing where the line is legally and ethically and what crosses that line is important in good legal and ethical medical care.

If my point was not clear, my reference to 'freedoms of others' was to the common argument of those wishing to hasten death medically. They will often refer to the freedom to decide what is done to their body. I was not referring to the freedom of the physician.

The point of writing that sentence was actually to dissuade any person who is agreeable to the legalization of euthanasia to dismiss your questions solely based on the fact you are writing from a euthanasia prevention viewpoint. Your questions are important to those on both sides of the argument. A rarity in such hotly contested issues.

Thanks again for commenting on your blog and I would encourage you to comment on Pallimed as well.

Alex Schadenberg said...

Thank you Dr. Sinclair:

Your comments are well taken.

To clarify my concern: Most people refer to the act of euthanasia as a freedom to decide for the patient. But since the act is done by the physician, therefore the patient's freedom is an illusion at best.

Your clarification was excellent. I will be happy to follow the Pallimed posts in the future.