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Ron Jones: Leave doctors out of ‘assisted dying’ discussion

by Ron Jones, New Zealand Herald, 23 March 2017

Dr Jones is a retired doctor who “spent most of his professional life caring for women with gynaecological cancer. During this time I was never asked to deliberately end the life of one of them; my wife died of cancer in her mid-40s.”

In this opinion piece he argues that “doctors are not God, and the majority, for moral, ethical, legal and professional reasons, do not wish to become involved in killing their patients.”

This emotive subject is coloured by semantics and euphemisms. The Oxford Dictionary defines medicine as “the science or practice of the prevention and treatment of disease”. This definition does not include euthanasia.

“Medically assisted dying” is a classic euphemism for euthanasia. David Seymour’s proposed End-of-Life Choice bill included the words “medically” or “medical” 178 times. The word provides an aura of caring, respectability, trust and legitimacy.

Since there are currently no medical indications for ending a person’s life, the use of the word “medical” by legislators dishonestly transfers undue responsibility for the act of euthanasia to the medical profession.

If the draft legislation is to proceed I would recommend the complete removal of the word “medical”, replacing it with “an approved person” (to be defined). This allows the legislation to proceed independently of the medical profession.

Doctors are not a necessary step in the process, though they are a very convenient tool for legislators to abrogate their responsibility and pass it to a caring profession.

Should the MPs who pass the legislation be responsible for “pushing the needle”?

Click here to read the full article.

Click here to read an Open Letter to New Zealanders by doctors: “Doctors are not necessary in the regulation or practice of assisted suicide.  They are included only to provide a cloak of medical legitimacy.  Leave doctors to focus on saving lives and providing real care to the dying.”

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