Doctors should save lives, not end them
Regarding Christina Thomas' letter “Legalize physican-aided suicide” : Killing patients has never been a part of the ethical framework of the medical profession going back to the Hippocratic Oath. It has no place in either civilized society or the medical profession as it often targets those who are sick and disabled, those very persons society should be committed to compassionately assisting. Often one hears the reason for allowing this barbaric practice is excruciating untreatable pain that candidates for assisted suicide must endure. This is myth-making on the part of advocates. Doctors are capable of treating pain effectively.
The disability community is very concerned about this push to legalize the practice of killing patients. The advocacy group Not Dead Yet reminds us that many disabled persons live very meaningful and useful lives. Consider the brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking who has lived with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) for over 50 years. Also, in some European countries where euthanasia is legal, individuals have been euthanized by their own requests not for terminal illlnesses but because of grief over the death of a loved one, depression and nonterminal illnesses.
Sadly, some will always find a way to commit suicide. Why would Pennsylvanians want their doctors, those responsible for their healing and comfort, to be co-opted to become their killers? Thomas' own professional organization, the American Nursing Association, opposes this practice.
Dr. Ralph A. Capone
The writer is a physician board-certified in hospice and palliative care and a bioethics instructor at St. Vincent College.