Joseph Nasca M.D. is the head of Vermont Alliance for Ethical Health Care, an organization of health care professionals formed to fight the legalization of assisted suicide in Vermont.
March 23, 2011
I am writing as a physician who has practiced in Franklin County since 1991, as a pharmacist who practiced here from 1983 to 1988, and as an executive board member of the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, VAEH, a grassroots organization of physicians, nurses, pharmacists and counselors who oppose bill H.274 which seeks to make physician prescribed suicide legal in Vermont.
In the midst of all the health care debate now going on, considering a bill to end one’s life by prescription is abhorrent to many of us in the healing professions. VAEH supports the excellent hospice care and palliative care available in all areas of our state; in fact Vermont is a national leader in this area. We support the efforts like those being considered in the Vermont House under bill H.201 that would make good end of life care more available.
All physicians are taught “primum non nocere,” to “First do no Harm.” The act of writing a prescription so a patient can go home and commit suicide is inconsistent with the ethical practice of medicine.
Lastly, the Vermont way of caring for one another does not include assisting someone in the act of suicide. The excellent physicians, nurses, pharmacists and others who labor for the welfare of their patients do not include a prescription for death among their duties to their patients.
We understand and recognize that this issue is being played out on a national stage and that outside interests and funds are making their way to Vermont. Let’s not let these outside interests determine the “Vermont way.”
To learn more see VAEH.org.
Dr. JOSEPH NASCA