.- The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the nation’s only assisted suicide law gives it the opportunity to protect patients, preserve physicians' role as healers, and send a life-honoring message to the culture, says the Christian Medical Association.
The court is expected review whether the federal Controlled Substances Act should only be used for legitimate medical purposes or, as in Oregon, as a lethal prescription for suicidal patients.
"The Court has an opportunity to insure that patients receive truly compassionate care and pain relief by limiting physicians' use of narcotics for healing, not death," said Dr. David Stevens.
The medical doctor pointed out that the Hippocratic oath asserts a physician’s role is to use treatment to help the sick, never to injure or wrong them.
The oath also asserts: “I will not give poison to anyone though asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a plan.”
"You only have to look at some of the abuses patients have suffered in financially driven healthcare systems to understand what can happen when cheap assisted suicide is offered as an alternative to true comfort care,” said the executive director of the 17,000-member medical association.
“Do you think the state of Oregon might have a financial interest in choosing cheap suicides for citizens whose care would otherwise be paid for through Medicaid?” suggested Stevens.
Stevens said there is a need for proper palliative care and pain management, adding that physicians must be empowered to “administer truly pain-relieving doses of narcotics. Stevens also warned of the negative messages assisted suicide sends about the value of life.
"What message do we want to send about suicide to our young people, the disabled community, our aging parents and grandparents? Do we really want the government condoning and promoting suicide? Do we want to reinforce the fear that the infirm are no more than a burden on the healthy? Do we want to reduce the value of life to what's going on in our bodies?” he asked.
"We need to send a message that even in our darkest hours, life is still worth living, that loved ones will come alongside to help, and that doctors will treat pain effectively and compassionately, not with a lethal prescription."