Skip to comments.Oregon Patients Prescribed Lethal Drugs for "Fear" of Pain and Loss of Dignity
Posted on 03/09/2008 10:19:30 AM PDT by wagglebee
SALEM, Oregon, March 7, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A new study shows that doctors in Oregon, where physician assisted suicide (PAS) is legal, have prescribed lethal drugs to patients not actually suffering severe symptoms of their diseases. Patients have been prescribed the drugs upon experiencing only fear of future suffering and loss of dignity in the dying process, research reveals.
The study says, "Some Oregon clinicians have expressed surprise at the paucity of suffering at the time of the request among these patients".
Under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, a terminally ill patient can request that his physician give him a prescription for a lethal dose of medication for the purpose of ending his life. Smith and other opponents of euthanasia and PAS have said that such laws, despite "safeguards" in regulations, are open to abuse and result in emotionally vulnerable patients being intimidated into making the request.
The study, from the Journal of General Internal Medicine, asked relatives of patients who died by assisted suicide in Oregon to describe the reasons for their loved-ones' requests. "In most cases, future concerns about physical symptoms were rated as more important than physical symptoms present at the time of the request," the report says.
The study backs up other reports that show fear of pain, disability and "being a burden," rather than actual symptoms of disease, is a leading motive for requests for PAS.
The study said, "Concerns about what may be experienced in the future, including physical symptoms, were substantially more powerful reasons than what they experienced at the time of the request."
The study's authors suggest that doctors receiving a request from a patient with these fears should "focus on eliciting and addressing worries and apprehension about the future with the goal of reducing anxiety about the dying process".
The study continued, "Addressing patients' concerns with concrete interventions that help maintain control, independence and self care, all in the home environment, may be an effective way to address requests for [PAS] and improve quality of remaining life."
Bioethics writer Wesley J. Smith, who was himself a volunteer in hospice, writes that a physician who accedes to requests for lethal prescriptions "is lending the weight of his or her authority to the burdens felt by the patient".
"How tragic that people in Oregon who decided on assisted suicide may have cheated themselves out of a time that, for all their fears, they might have ultimately found to be well worth the living."
The culture of death views them as "worthless eaters."
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Typical Oregon liberals. Now they want tax-payer funded suicide because they are afraid of pain. Rather, they should be afraid of death.
**”How tragic that people in Oregon who decided on assisted suicide may have cheated themselves out of a time that, for all their fears, they might have ultimately found to be well worth the living.”**
So much is happening in the medical field that this is not worth the dignity. (My opinion.)
2276 Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible.
Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.
2278 Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.
2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.
|2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.
Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.
|2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.
|2325 Suicide is seriously contrary to justice, hope, and charity. It is forbidden by the fifth commandment.
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Of course, there will be no reasonable discussion on this thread of the options in dealing with terminal illness and pain.
Having said that, at the risk of being flamed from here to eternity....the reality is that by “offering” a way out of severe pain with massive narcotics ( which may contribute to death ) available to the patient...the statistics show
1. Most people want to go on lving, even with pain, and other trauma of their illness if the fear is removed. therefore LESS people attempt suicide and may be able to go on. also, patients use LESS narcotics when given free choice for monitoring their own pain.
2. Even when patients are given medications to use as euthanasia....an extremely extremely small percentage ever use the meds.
Lets look at the overall issue to see how best to deal with the traumas of terminal illness. and lets not pretend that there is no need to address these fears cause “no one ever has to feel pain nowadays.”.( not true.)
I welcome discussion and research. that does not preclude strong value positions!
I think you may misunderstand the Oregon law. It is the Doctor who administers the drugs, not the patient. A minor quibble, true, but perhaps an important one to your argument.
Most people find it easier to have medical personnel administer serious medication.
On second thought, I may have misunderstood the law in Oregon.
IOW, if life got too bad, here's how to end your situation. What's wrong with that?
The Hippocratic Oath antedated Christ by 500 years. It specifically precluded physicians from preparing a poison or doing an abortion.
The underlying reason, even in pagan times, was that physicians would be given power over life and death which would distract them from their real job. Further, patients under their care would never know when the treatment might degenerate to a “black pill.” The pagan ancients were right and Oregon is wrong. The Dutch and others are even more wrong.
Good talent there. And so true.
If I became terminally ill and suffered from intolerable pain I would want the right to make my own decision about putting an end to it. I think it should be left up to the person whether they want to end their suffering or deal with the suffering and die a natural death. Just knowing I had the option of ending it might be enough to help me get through to the end.
Both of my adoptive parents passed after prolonged suffering which they bore with dignity and serenity.
I would have given them anything they asked for in
order to reduce or terminate their suffering. Being
good Catholics they accepted the fate that the Lord
intended. But if they chose otherwize, who but God
should judge them? On the other hand, for a doctor
to terminate a life is a repudiation of all they stand
for. But if the patient does this, themselves, knowingly,
its a mattter for them and their God, and the state should
That being said above, an excellent doctor/patient relationship prevents in most cases these issues becoming matters for the state. As you say......Butt out!
Nobody has a clue what ‘dignity’ is.
The death squad has already showed up on your thread. (Sigh)
They ALWAYS do, though this seems much milder than other times.
Which is exactly what the research and studies and the actual implementation of these laws shows.
Also, what does “die a natural death “ mean nowadays anyways.? A “do not resustiate order “ means no unusual measures....so is that a ‘natural death” or are we supposed to keep bringing the person back from the brink, and THAT is the limits on dying ?
With modern medicine the whole issue is not so simple anymore. Fifty years ago most people “just died” way before people with the same illness do now because we can keep people alive longer.
so is keeping them alive, playing God too? Hmmm.
Sorry, it’s a prescription written by the doctor but the person picks up the prescription and uses it when they decide to do so.
The problem is that this law is already being used to coerce inconvenient relatives into committing suicide, and with the rise in medical costs and decrease in human compassion, this is likely to be an increasing issue - the Netherlands has well documented problems with their euthanasia law.
We had a case a couple of years ago where the daughter was pressuring the Mom towards assisted suicide (presumably the Mom was an inconvenience/burden, or eagerness to collect her estate.
The first doctor said, rightly, the Mom was depressed and refused to do the prescription. The daughter found another doctor and the Mom was dead shortly therafter.
There are well documented ways to commit suicide that don’t involve the physician and aren’t particularly messy - a car exhaust, a plastic bag.
Hospice and a DNR works very well in my personal experience with my Dad - and DNR generally means using only measures for comfort - comfort may mean antibiotic if they have a particularly uncomfortable illness, oxygen so they can breathe more easily (not a respirator), mild sedatives for anxiety, maintaining comfort from pain, or just fluids/ice chips so they aren’t thirsty, .
People who are truly dying from long-term illness start shutting down, system by system and end up being neither hungry nor thirsty. You are right that it is sometimes not simple - particularly with something like brain injury or heart attack as to when/if to cut off support.
We prayed for our culture of death to become a culture of life during the petitions at mass this evening. I think every Catholic Church needs to insert that prayer into the petitions at every mass.
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