U.S. psychiatrists speak out against euthanasia
    December 30 2016 by Kiley Crossland, WORLD News Service

    The largest organization of psychiatrists in the world has rejected its members’ involvement in euthanasia for non-terminally ill patients.
     
    The American Psychiatric Association (APA) assembly and board of trustees approved a position statement in December for the organization’s 25,000 member psychiatrists, stating, “A psychiatrist should not prescribe or administer any intervention to a non-terminally ill person for the purpose of causing death.”
     
    Although euthanasia, where a doctor administers a life-ending drug, is not legal in the United States, five states have laws allowing physician-assisted suicide, where a doctor prescribes a lethal drug for patients to take themselves. And although those states currently require the patient have a terminal illness, critics argue the path to providing assisted suicide to those with mental illness or “unbearable suffering” is a slippery slope.
     
    “So far, no other country that has implemented physician-assisted suicide has been able to constrain its application solely to the terminally ill, eventually including nonterminal patients as legally eligible, as well,” said Mark Komrad, a member of the APA Ethics Committee, according to reporting by BioEdge. “This is when psychiatric patients start to be included.”
     
    Canada legalized euthanasia in June and initiated a review of extending the law to minors and “requests made by individuals with mental illness as their sole underlying condition.”
     
    In Belgium, which has the most liberal euthanasia laws in the world, it is now commonplace for doctors to euthanize people with mental illness, including depression and dementia. From 2014 to 2015, doctors euthanized 124 patients with “mental or behavioral disorder,” 3.1 percent of the 3,950 cases in those two years.
     
    The practice of euthanizing people with no terminal illness has come under scrutiny, especially in the psychiatric community. Karl Benzio, a psychiatrist and member of the Christian Medical and Dental Association, said the APA’s statement doesn’t go far enough. Benzio is the founder and clinical director of Lighthouse Network, a Christian addiction and mental health helpline.
     
    Benzio said the APA statement was a “passive endorsement” of physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients – something he called a “diplomatic straddling of the fence.”
     
    “We are here to heal,” said Benzio. “When someone is suicidal, we are going to help them.”
     
    He agreed it is only a matter of time before the standard for who qualifies for physician-assisted suicide in the United States expands to someone with “unbearable suffering.”
     
    “It is dangerous to give anyone the right or power to kill another person, especially when that criteria of what defines the victim keeps changing. The physician is often the last voice protecting the vulnerable population,” Benzio said.
     
    If the APA does not expand its position to include all patients, Benzio would at least like it to attempt to influence legislation in the United States to mandate a required psychiatric evaluation before any patient is allowed to commit physician-assisted suicide.
     
    “We are the suicidologists,” said Benzio. He argued it would be malpractice not to call a cardiologist for a patient with a heart attack. Why, then, can a doctor in the United States prescribe life-ending drugs to a person wishing to die without consulting a psychiatrist?
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Kiley Crossland writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville. Used with permission.)
     

    12/30/2016 10:28:18 AM by Kiley Crossland, WORLD News Service | with 1 comments
    Filed under: American Psychiatric Association, Assisted suicide, Euthanasia




Comments
Bradley Williams
The Oregon model assisted suicide bills are insidious at best. I understand since I cared for my wife during her 18 month decline. I learned that you can work on 4 hours sleep a night.
Welcome to the Oregon experience.
Some doctors coerce patients. The following classic letter from an Oregonian is an example.
"Dear Editor,
Hello from Oregon.
When my husband was seriously ill several years ago, I collapsed in a half-exhausted heap in a chair once I got him into the doctor's office, relieved that we were going to get badly needed help (or so I thought).
To my surprise and horror, during the exam I overheard the doctor giving my husband a sales pitch for assisted suicide. 'Think of what it will spare your wife, we need to think of her' he said, as a clincher.
Now, if the doctor had wanted to say 'I don't see any way I can help you, knowing what I know, and having the skills I have' that would have been one thing. If he'd wanted to opine that certain treatments weren't worth it as far as he could see, that would be one thing. But he was tempting my husband to commit suicide. And that is something different.
I was indignant that the doctor was not only trying to decide what was best for David, but also what was supposedly best for me (without even consulting me, no less).
We got a different doctor, and David lived another five years or so. But after that nightmare in the first doctor's office, and encounters with a 'death with dignity' inclined nurse, I was afraid to leave my husband alone again with doctors and nurses, for fear they'd morph from care providers to enemies, with no one around to stop them.
It's not a good thing, wondering who you can trust in a hospital or clinic. I hope you are spared this in Hawaii.
Sincerely,
Kathryn Judson, Oregon"

Doctors are human too. My brother had a stroke that rendered his right arm useless and his speech impaired. He asked me to contact his doctor to explain that he did not need the antidepressants that the doctor had prescribed for him because he was not depressed. The doctor's response was "Would not you be depressed in his condition?"
We trust our doctors but we do not want to tempt them with the power to coerce their patients to cut short their life with legal assisted suicide.
All Oregon model laws including UT, CA, DC and Colorado's non transparent Prop 106 simply allow killing by forced euthanasia, putting us all (all ages) at risk of exploitation by the medical industrial complex, organ traffickers, predatory heirs and "new best friends". Insidious at best.
Respectfully,
Bradley Williams
President MTaas.org
12/30/2016 4:21:00 PM

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