I know so many people who are strong in their faith. Our belief systems guide us and help us through some of the most difficult times. However, if you are the family of a loved one who is suffering from a life-threatening illness or disease, would you consider aid-in-dying? What if you cannot find a healthcare provider willing to help?
According to an article published by PBS.org, even those states that have legislation in place to allow aid-in-dying, patients who choose to may not be able to end their lives.
The reason is “that many local health care providers refused to participate in the state’s End of Life Options Act.”
“Across California — and in the five other states where medical aid-in-dying is now allowed — access is not guaranteed, advocates say. Hospitals, health systems and individual doctors are not obligated to prescribe or dispense drugs to induce death, and many choose not to. Most of the resistance comes from faith-based systems. The Catholic Church has long opposed aid-in-dying laws as a violation of church directives for ethical care. But some secular hospitals and other providers also have declined.”
It is one of those extremely controversial topics involving faith. However, there are always two sides to every coin. On one side, you have the patient who has consciously chosen this option for several reasons: to avoid a prolonged and painful dying experience, to avoid the family having to witness a painful deterioration of their loved one and to possibly reduce the healthcare costs of a prolonged dying process. On the other side, you have the healthcare professionals who cannot, according to their beliefs, actively take the life of or assist in ending the life of another human being.
“I believe that there is still a strong taboo against talking about death openly in the medical community. It feels like a threat to what we are trained to do: preserve and extend life,” Lee said, “adding that doctors have a moral obligation to address end-of-life concerns.”
The article mentions that there are organizations that can assist with navigating the rules in several states. They can also assist with finding providers willing to write the prescriptions for lethal drugs. For some families, this is actually a blessing:
“Within weeks, (mom) was examined by two doctors who confirmed that she was terminally ill and mentally competent. She received a prescription for the lethal drugs and on Aug. 17, ate a half- cup of applesauce mixed with Seconal, a powerful sedative. Within 20 seconds, she fell asleep,” (daughter) recalled. “Within a really short time, she stopped breathing. It was amazingly peaceful.”
In a recent class on pain management, the instructor said, “Pain is whatever the patient says it is.” You cannot know exactly what another person feels physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Respect each other’s decisions and feelings while embracing your own.
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