A doctor in the US state of Oregon has warned others not to follow its example in introducing assisted suicide.
In an article for The Wall Street Journal, Dr William L Toffler said he has witnessed first-hand how the law has changed the doctor-patient relationship and raised the spectre of coercion.
He also shared the moving account of the death of his wife from cancer and stressed that the end of her life was imbued with great dignity.
Fear and secrecy
Dr Toffler wrote: “Since the voters of Oregon narrowly legalized physician-assisted suicide 20 years ago, there has been a profound shift in attitude toward medical care—new fear and secrecy, and a fixation on death.”
He said “as a licensed physician for 35 years, I have seen firsthand how the law has changed the relationship between doctors and patients, some of whom now fear that they are being steered toward assisted suicide”.
As a society we should continue to reject the legalization of physician-assisted suicide as a solution to suffering.
“The final five years we both knew she would inevitably die of her cancer. At one point doctors told her that she had only three to nine months left, yet she lived more than four times as long.”
“She died peacefully and naturally at home surrounded by her family and friends. She never took an overdose, yet her death and life had great dignity”, he added.
The doctor concluded: “As a society we should continue to reject the legalization of physician-assisted suicide as a solution to suffering.
“Instead we must work to increase access to hospice and palliative care to better support those suffering from terminal illness. The sick and aging deserve better than Oregon’s mistake.”
On Friday MPs will vote on Rob Marris’ assisted suicide Bill.
Opponents of the assisted suicide Bill have set up the website notoassistedsuicide.org.uk to enable people to contact their MP ahead of Friday’s vote.