Bioethics Discussion Blog: The Ethics of Assisting a Peaceful Death When There is No Peace

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Monday, July 24, 2006

The Ethics of Assisting a Peaceful Death When There is No Peace

Is there ever a time, is there ever conditions which could lead physicians to a permissible and direct assisting the death of their patient? Read the article by Mary Faith Marshall in the Summer 2006 issue of The University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics “Bioethics Examiner” about the patient deaths at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans and the accusation by the Louisiana Attorney General of a physician and two nurses as intentionally causing the deaths during the emotional and physical ravages of the consequences of Hurricane Katrina.


Read
Mary Faith Marshall’s thoughts and then come back and write your thoughts here. We don’t know all the facts. We can only imagine. But then, after all is known, could assisting death, under some circumstances, be acceptable? ..Maurice.

2 Comments:

At Monday, July 24, 2006 8:02:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

Dr. Bernstein, I can't judge another person's actions ... much less their motivations. I'm trying - as I have been since the first tentative reports of "mercy killing" came in after Katrina - to not make assumptions.

I understand that there is a growing movement in the medical profession toward the acceptance of "assisted suicide" under certain circumstances, and since we've had this conversation before, I realize that you and I disagree on the subject.

While I don't know what I would have done in the positions which Mary Faith Marshall describes, I don't think that mercy killing would have been one of the actions which entered my mind. I see mercy killing as a misguided act of disordered compassion ... and even more so when it's committed by the healing hands of a physician. The very thought seems to dismay and darken my respect for those in the profession ... and shatters the trust I've built over a lifetime.

There are other answers besides taking people's lives ... and the physician who can administer a fatal dosage of morphine can just as easily administer a lesser dosage which would remove the pain, or even remove consciousness, if necessary.

Primum non nocere ... I know it's not really part of the oath, but it certainly is a sacrosanct part of the essence.

 
At Wednesday, July 26, 2006 11:37:00 AM, Blogger Hans G. Engel, M.D. said...

Assisted suicide is a most difficult decision to make. For some time I have been a strong supporter of the "Compassion and Choices" organization. During all my practice days I met patients, as well as my mother and my loving ladyfriend, who asked for my help to end their painful and inevitable end. Since it was against the law, I was too cowarly to acceed to their wishes.
The laws in Oregon, Holland and other entities provide severely critial laws concerning assisted suicide.
Under rare circumstances (such as a patient with unquestionable terminal cancer, in pain difficult to control and unable to function physically, yet mentally alert, asking repeatedly for early death), it seems to me that the ethical decision by the physician should be to follow the patient's order.

 

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