Friday, January 23, 2015

Physician-Assisted Suicide: Hospice-Palliative Volunteers' Opinions (Research, Video 2:58)

Hospice-palliative volunteers bring a unique perspective to the ongoing debate about physician-assisted suicide. Already legal in several states (Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico), the law requires that the terminally ill must be of sound mind when requesting assisted suicide, as confirmed by a doctor and other witnesses. The main difference between euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is that the latter requires the patient, not a doctor or someone else, to self-administer the medication and decide when to do that. Despite fears that the assisted suicide law would be used inappropriately by many people not showing good care or judgment, that has not been the case.

Research on physician-assisted suicide included two groups consisting of Canadian in-home hospice-palliative volunteers and members of the community. Participants responded to 15 items about physician-assisted suicide. Differences of opinion were revealed in both groups. Additional questions confirmed the following about the majority of volunteers and community members:

     1)   They support legalizing physician-assisted suicide.
     2)   They would choose hospice-palliative care over physician-assisted suicide                 for themselves if they were terminally ill.
     3)   They think Canadians should place more priority on developing hospice-                   palliative care rather than on legalizing physician-assisted suicide.

In America, physician-assisted suicide has also sparked debate widely in various states. Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She decided to move from California to Oregon because doctors there are allowed by law to prescribe life-ending medication to patients who are older than 18 and have been given less than six months to live. She has taken that medication. This video features her story along with pros and cons of the physician-assisted suicide debate:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

1 comment:

  1. I am not a supporter of PAS itself, but I do have to acknowledge that it should be the right for people to choose given their unique situations. Its also important that we keep the dialog open for discussion and learn. I think the conversation makes our Palliative and Hospice options even stronger ones when we educate and get people into the conversation. @bretttr