Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia violate the sanctity of human life, so I oppose both.
People living with terminal illness deserve more than the offer of a physician to facilitate their death. They merit true compassion. Accessing expert palliative (hospice) care and comfort care — treating the symptoms and making the patient as comfortable as possible during the natural dying process. Palliative (hospice) care differs from acute care in that it becomes appropriate when aggressive therapies are no longer beneficial to the patient and there is no longer an attempt to cure the disease.
Barriers need to be removed that prevent patients from receiving available treatments for pain and other symptoms — not alleviate the safeguards that protect patients from psychological or financial coercion to choose an untimely death. The goal should not be to legalize physician-assisted suicide but rather to adequately provide available means of care so that patients and their families do not feel the need to consider an early death.
Social acceptance of physician-assisted suicide sends the message that some lives, especially those of elderly, disabled and dependent citizens, have less value, and are not worth living.
The practice of physician-assisted suicide creates a duty to die. Death may become a reasonable substitute to treatment and care as medical costs continue to rise. The patient, and the family members may be encouraged to use this option and be pressed to do so, to alleviate this burden, on the hospital or nursing home, as much as on the one suffering.
Better medical alternatives exist to physician-assisted suicide. However, they are not brought to the light as much as they should, family members need to be more engaged, and aggressive in becoming informed to the resources available. Today's pain management techniques can provide relief for up to 95 percent of patients, thus offering true death with dignity.
Physician-assisted suicide often ignores anxiety, depression, and family problems, which is a legitimate cry for help.
Physician-assisted suicide gives too much power to doctors, threatening patient autonomy by allowing physicians to decide whether a patient lives or dies. This is occurring now in the Netherlands, Europe.
The practice of physician-assisted suicide threatens to destroy the delicate trust relationship between doctor and patient – a relationship based on the patient's belief that his or her physician will pursue the goal of protecting life.
Physician-assisted suicide opens the door to euthanasia. Then, when this boundary is overstepped, where is this going to lead? Where will this mindset go next? Who else will be termed "better off dead?"
"In a society as obsessed with the costs of health care and the principle of utility, the dangers of the slippery slope... are far from fantasy...
Assisted suicide is a half-way house, a stop on the way to other forms of direct euthanasia, for example, for incompetent patients by advance directive or suicide in the elderly. So, too, is voluntary euthanasia a half-way house to involuntary and non-voluntary euthanasia. If terminating life is a benefit, the reasoning goes, why should euthanasia be limited only to those who can give consent? Why need we ask for consent?"
It must be recognized that assisted suicide and euthanasia will be practiced through the prism of social inequality and prejudice that characterizes the delivery of services in all segments of society, including health care. Those who will be most vulnerable to abuse, error, or indifference are the poor, minorities, and those who are least educated and least empowered. This risk does not reflect a judgment that physicians are more prejudiced or influenced by race and class than the rest of society - only that they are not exempt from the prejudices manifest in other areas of our collective life.