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Physician-assisted suicide would corrupt the profession


February 21, 2014

I am a general medical practitioner, with 30 years experience in north-central Montana, and have lived in this community for more than 20 years.

Montanans Against Assisted Suicide has decided to appeal its case with the Montana Medical Examiner Board to the Montana Supreme Court, and I am glad to see it (online at http://www.kxlh.com/news/kxlh-evening-top-news-wed-feb-21). My hope is that the appeal will end the controversy about assisted suicide possibly being legal in Montana.

My concerns about legalizing assisted suicide include that it will encourage "lazy doctoring." I say this because it is easier for a doctor to write a prescription to end the patient's life, as opposed to doing the sometimes had work of figuring out what is wrong with a patient and providing treatment. I am also concerned that legalization will give bad doctors the opportunity to hide malpractice by convincing a patient to take his or her life. Havre and the surrounding communities have been very fortunate in the quality of their doctors over the years.

The American Medical Association, Ethics Opinion No. 2.211, states: "Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks."

I agree with this statement and it is a primary reason that I am a member of the AMA. Allowing legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Montana will compromise and corrupt my profession. Legalization will also put the lives and well-being of my patients at risk.

Carley C. Robertson, MD



Reader Comments

HHS1966 writes:

I think where we differ is definition. Physician_assisted suicide requires a lethal injection or cocktail to end life. Stopping medications would let the end come sooner and the physician would not be asked or demanded to do something he/she would not want to do. Sorry for your loss. My dad was in a similar situation and it was a family decision with dad making the final call.

mybusiness writes:

I do not agree. If you have ever watched a loved one who wishes to be relieved of the uncontrollable pain and suffering,when no amount of doctoring, pills or injections help. This should be their choice not yours. Why is it ok to pull the plug, when the doctor and or family decides, but the patient does not have the right to start with? The patient should be the one to decide their quality and quantity of life.

HHS1966 writes:

Well said, Dr. Robertson. I appreciate your position. As a Christian, God is the author and giver of life, why don't we let him be the finisher also. It takes us off the hook. Ultimately the decision will be much better. The back side of health care bill are end of life issues that will put doctors on the spot to (help) because of the high costs at the end of one's life. That is where we are in America


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