Reflecting on the Hippocratic oath, the great anthropologist Margaret Mead said that the decision of physicians to stop killing was crucial to modern medical care. By advocating for physician-prescribed suicide, we abdicate our responsibility to patients and turn the medical profession upside-down [“Assisted-suicide bill debated in Albany,” News, April 24].
In Oregon, the first state to allow physician-assisted suicide, providers have noticed that patients are losing faith in the medical system. Seriously ill patients are requesting second and often third opinions for some treatments because they have become suspicious of doctors. “Medical aid in dying” is assisted suicide. The New York State Court of Appeals investigated and ruled so in a unanimous decision last year.
Instead, our community should help doctors and nurses alleviate suffering, not encourage them to eliminate the person. The provision of suicide would weaken the support of hospice services that already need a boost.
The greatness of a civilization is measured by how well we care for the vulnerable. The premier medical system of the 1920s was in Germany. But there, physicians began to accept euthanasia, then the killing of disabled children, and then invented the gas chamber to kill the mentally ill. Later, when the Nazi party came to power, the new government took advantage of the already existing philosophy and technology.
We should not grant a profession or a government that authority.
Dr. Paul Carpentier, West Islip
Editor’s note: The writer is medical director of the Long Island Gianna Center for Women’s Health and Fertility in Babylon.
Thank you to Dr. Yale Rosen of the advocacy group Compassion & Choices for differentiating between medical aid in dying and assisted suicide [“Nuance and the ending of one’s life,” Letters, May 3]. Your explanation helped me clarify my feelings on the subject and made it much easier for me to support the proposed medical-aid-in-dying law in New York.
Cheryl Garber, Jericho