Proper palliative care makes assisted dying unnecessary

by Benoit Beuselinck, The Economist, 24 August 2018

Symptoms of physical suffering at the end of a disease can be managed with medical therapies and palliative sedation if necessary, making euthanasia unnecessary. However, the Belgian experience shows that when you allow euthanasia for severe physical suffering at the end of a disease, little by little, doctors will be asked to solve the underlying psychological and spiritual problems of their patients by administering death.

However, guiding the natural evolution of the disease towards death and administering all possible supportive care, including palliative sedation if necessary, in continuous discussion with the patient and his family, is something which is very different from the direct induction of death through active euthanasia. In the first case, we are aiming to control the symptoms, even if, by doing so, life may be unintentionally shortened. In the latter case, death is induced directly and intentionally.

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