In italics below are two quotes from a recent (the only date given is 2011) article in Current Oncology, entitled “Legalizing Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: the Illusion of Safeguards and Controls”, by a J. Pereira. It is available online at www.current-oncology.com/index.php/oncology/…/645. The article is useful for defining the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide (pas), as well as for explaining how the patient protections promised by the proponents of euthanasia and assisted suicide have been eroded over time in places where these are legal. Because VT is considering assisted suicide, and because the VT proponents are promising that they will not seek to legalize euthanasia, we have chosen only quotes referring to assisted suicide. We urge everyone to read the whole article to check the references it cites and to get a more complete picture of the dangers of legalizing either or both. A future posting will give a case study to show why we believe that it is impossible to draw a clear line between euthanasia and pas. We will also be posting more quotes from the article in the next few days.
1. All jurisdictions except for Switzerland require a consultation by a second physician to ensure that all criteria have been met before proceeding with euthanasia or pas…In Oregon, a physician member of a pro-assisted suicide lobby group provided the consultation in 58 of 61 consecutive cases of patients receiving pas in Oregon. This raises concerns about the objectivity of the process and the safety of the patients, and raises questions about the influence of bias on the part of these physicians on the process.
2. Oregon requires that a patient be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist for treatment if the prescribing or consulting physician is concerned that the patient’s judgment is impaired by a mental disorder such as depression. In 2007, none of the people who died by lethal ingestion in Oregon had been evaluated by a psychiatrist or a psychologist despite considerable evidence that, compared with non-depressed patients, patients who are depressed are more likely to request euthanasia and that treatment for depression will often result in the patient rescinding the request. In a study of 200 terminally ill cancer patients, for example, the prevalence of depressive syndromes was 59% among patients with a pervasive desire to die, but only 8% among patients without such a desire.