Assisted suicide not dead yet.

Today as I was listening to the CBC it was mentioned that courts in BC are once again battling over the issue of Physician Assisted Suicide. For more reading check here. Canadians currently have a right to life, it does not follow from that right that we can decide when to end our lives. What are your thoughts on this folks?


Hendrik van der Breggen said...

Ryan Turnbull,

Thanks for bringing the important topic of physician-assisted suicide to our attention. I recently had an article published about this topic on pages 8-13 of Focus magazine (a publication of the Christian Medical and Dental Society). I hope that my article is helpful in our discussions.

Thanks again for broaching physician-assisted suicide. We definitely need to think about this topic carefully.

Best regards,
Dr. V

Ryan Turnbull said...

Interesting article, I'd never heard of that sedation treatment, I'd think that one would have to be extremely careful as to how that was applied, it could very easily become a loophole for PAS, "accidental" overdoses and such.

Hendrik van der Breggen said...

I learned about palliative sedation from my wife, Carla, when she was a volunteer caring for dying patients. The palliative care specialists had Carla and the other volunteers take a course on palliative care.

Yes, as you point out, palliative sedation has risks, e.g., being abused as a form of assisted suicide. Nevertheless, we need to operate in good faith while keeping an eye on abuse (in other words, the possibility of abuse shouldn't keep us from proper use). Happily, the mere knowledge of palliative sedation takes away fear of suffering that a terminally ill patient (and family) might have, which is a relief in itself. Also, the reality of palliative sedation diffuses arguments for physician-assisted suicide of the terminally ill which hinge on suffering as the main reason for the suicide. Ideally, it would be important to discuss this possible treatment before it's applied, so proper good-byes could be made.

The Journal of the American Medical Association has some helpful information on palliative sedation here.

I hope this information is helpful.

Hendrik van der Breggen said...

P.S. On the issue of physician-assisted suicide, I highly recommend philosopher Paul Chamberlain's book Final Wishes: A Cautionary Tale on Death, Dignity, and Physician-Assisted Suicide. The book was originally published by InterVarsity Press in 2000, and has been republished by Wipf & Stock in 2009. (Students of my Ethics course are allowed to review this book, so if you're taking Ethics, feel free to get a head start!)

Hendrik van der Breggen said...

Here is a link the CBC Radio program that you may have been listening to, Ryan: Dr. Brian's Side of the Gurney. (I couldn't resist leaving a comment on the CBC site.)