I APPLAUD the viewpoint of Jeff Jacoby in “What about do no harm?” (Op-ed, Oct. 17) which reminds us of the medical tautology that “prescribing death is not a doctor’s role.”
As health care providers for patients suffering from terminal illness, many of us have the privilege and responsibility of caring for patients and their families during the most difficult chapter in their lives. We are charged with using the means at our disposal to improve physical and emotional well-being and to maximize comfort, even in situations where we cannot extend life.
In contrast, there is no medical license to shorten life, to determine when life is worthy of termination; physicians do not have any more entitlement than others to make such assessments. Would we permit a “terminally ill” patient to walk into a gun shop with a note from her doctor prescribing a weapon to end her life? I am no more entitled to provide a murder weapon that any non-physician, and legislation should protect rather than expose vulnerable individuals.
In a culture where our moral compass is already so far askew that we struggle daily to teach our children right from wrong, “Death with Dignity” drags us closer to “Death to Morality.”