The idea that it would be wrong for a physician to do anything intended to kill a human being goes back before the origins of the Catholic Church. It was, in fact, acknowledged in the Hippocratic Oath, which was written centuries before the birth of Christ. The relevant passage runs as follows:
Nor shall any man’s entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to anyone; neither will I counsel any man to do so. Moreover, I will get no sort of medicine to any pregnant woman, with a view to destroy the child.
Today, of course, it has become common for physicians to play a role in ending human lives, through abortion all over the country, and through physician assisted suicide in Oregon. The latter practice is back in the news again because of the very public decision of Brittany Maynard to go to Oregon precisely in order to avail herself of physician assisted suicide, which she prefers to death by cancer.
Over at Public Discourse, Adam McLeod discusses the larger consequences of this practice. Here is one particularly important passage.
Once assisted suicide is a legal option alongside palliative care, then it is likely to displace palliative care in the market competition for resources. It is far less costly. Why should investors invest in improving palliative care, and why should insurance companies pay for it, if all of its attendant expenses can be eliminated by means of which the law approves?
When assisted suicide is a legal option, everyone has an interest in it—not only financiers, pharmaceutical companies, physicians, nurses, hospitals, and insurers, but also private caregivers, friends, and family members. For the law to authorize assisted suicide in any circumstance is for the law to communicate to citizens that assisting a suicide is an option that at least some people should consider. So, one must ask: “Why not this person beside me?”
Read the whole thing there.