BY: Dr. Ralph A. Capone
Pittsburgh Tribune Review
In response to the news story “Efforts to introduce ‘Death with Dignity’ laws in Pa. stall”: Enshrining a new right in Pennsylvania, the right to assisted suicide, would involve an act unachievable without third-party assistance. And so, the medical profession will be enlisted, willingly or not, and reverse the tradition of 2,500 years (Hippocratic Oath) where physicians are never to kill or intend the death of those they are charged with caring for.
While there are compelling moral and religious reasons not to legalize such killing, instead consider only the common good. The potentially harmful impact on the doctor-patient relationship should give all Pennsylvanians pause before calling on or encouraging their representatives to pass this legislation.
At an individual level, we trust our doctors and confide in them. Such fidelity benefits the patient and society. This must never be weakened or tampered with by expanding physicians’ scope of practice that gives them the option to kill or to assist in killing patients.
Finally, on a global level, the medical profession should seek to (and be greatly encouraged to) do more research on how to improve pain treatment and how to holistically care for suffering patients, both physically and mentally, whether they are terminal or not.
Legal sanctioning of assisted suicide in Pennsylvania is both unnecessary and dangerous.
DR. RALPH A. CAPONE
*The writer is a physician board-certified in hospice and palliative care and a bioethics instructor at St. Vincent College.