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Is medically assisted death a special obligation?
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  • Published on:
    Care or Kill?
    • Anne Williams, General Practitioner Scottish Council on Human Bioethics

    Rivera Lopez in his astounding article [1] proposes the duty to kill and is happy not to consider the counter arguments, but just follow his line of thought!!
    He is among those prepared to cross the line of taking a life or at least consider such acts in theory. His view demonstrates a very restricted outlook on life, seeing nothing beyond the concrete. It seems a bit drastic or simplistic to get rid of problems by getting rid of the people who have them. If treatment or life itself is burdensome, it can be lightened in many more caring ways. As a GP, I see what a dying person can give to others and the intangible benefits of suffering; in bringing of the family together, acknowledging the heartbreak and drawing out good in others by accompanying and self-giving. I have also seen destruction of the joy in a family by suicide and the feeling of failure among those left behind. Human dignity is found in being supported and loved, not being killed.
    Another consideration is that we do not know how those who cross the line will bear up psychologically after many years of this justified killing. Doctors in Ontario, where euthanasia has been permitted by law last year, are backing out as they find that they “go through one experience and it’s just overwhelming, it’s too difficult, and those are the ones who say, ‘take my name off the list. I can’t do any more.’ ” [2] Are we prepared to risk making killing part of the medical practice and wait to see the damage?

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.