Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Supreme Court Upholds Oregon’s Physician-Assisted Suicide Law

The Supreme Court today upheld Oregon’s 1997 law allowing physicians to aid in the suicide of terminally ill patients, a statute that the Bush administration battled furiously. The court voted 6-3, with Chief Justice Justice John Roberts dissenting along with Justices Anthony Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

What do you think about this issue? On one hand, some health care providers believe that a patient should have the right to have a physician help them to end their lives when they are near the end of a terminal disease. I recently had a patient who is in end-stage COPD and has been hospitalized several times in the last few months. She asked, "why is it we can put down our beloved pets when they are sick and we as humans cannot have the same compassion?"

On the other hand, we as doctors, NPs, and nurses take an oath to "do no harm". We are supposed to heal, not help kill our patients, besides the religious aspect of suicide and murder.

Personally, from what I've seen and experienced with death and dying, I want to at least have a choice. I think that a person should be evaluated by a team of doctors and mental health specialists to determine that a person isn't "just depressed" and have a terminal disease process with a life expectancy of 6 months or so to be able to be in control of how they depart this life.

My husband differs in his opinion. He says that we should not play God. That only he as the right to life or death.

What do you think?

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