Human Exceptionalism

Gynecologist Assists Suicide for Person with Neurological Disease

This is so typical. A Swiss gynecologist death doctor named Alois Geiger admits helping with the suicide people outside his medical specialty. He is a gynecologist. From the column:

Should one not be allowed to make use of medical means to release oneself from suffering? The wish to commit suicide is most understandable when it develops over time, rather than overnight. Only a doctor with a medical practice can prescribe strong sleeping medication. For me there is no question about writing such a prescription in a tragic situation, knowing that it cannot help his illness but will help him realise his wish for a self-determined suicide…

The other day a patient came to me suffering from a spreading neurological disease that was increasingly paralysing his muscles. He lived alone, had no family responsibilities. As a doctor I have seen many people in worse conditions and who none the less were ready to carry on living with their suffering and disabilities. Is it my right, or even my duty as a doctor to turn down a prescription for NaP for this man and make it very difficult for him to end his life–just because somebody in a similar situation is prepared to live longer? Does the opinion of other people overrule one’s own sense of worth?

Just now, there was another conversation with him. He is not wheelchair-bound yet. With a stick he can still climb a few stairs. He is missing everything that he has lost through illness–his career, his walking, climbing, driving a car. He will not be able to take care of himself much longer, already depends on outside help. And there is the nub–he does not want to be ever more dependent on other people…He needs me for that slip of paper. Is it correct to deny him the indisputably most humane means to determine the end of his life? If I do not help him, do I not play God, taking away from him the option of a gentle and, in his eyes, a rational death?

So, Geiger helps kill patients whose conditions are outside his area of specialty based on ideology and his determination that the suicide is rational. Death on demand

This is pure Kevorkianism, a doctor consulted, not for treatment or palliation, but death. Recall that Kevorkaian was a pathologist who never treated a living patient after his medical residency. Yet, he was a doctor and he believed that gave him the authority to decide who to allow access to assisted suicide–even though he hadn’t the slightest idea about new techniques that might help the patient not want to die.

In Oregon, we see a similar phenomenon, doctors prescribing to patients who they have not cared for with condition outside their specialty, consulted for the sole purpose of getting the coveted signature on the prescription pad. There is an oncologist, a favorite of Compassion and Choices (formerly Hemlock Society) who assists the suicides of non cancer patients, for example, I recall one specifically had Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The media should make a stink! But they won’t. They are in the tank. And as the Fourth Estate snoozes away or roots for the new compassion to take hold in Washington State with I-1000, people who might have been helped to live are abandoned onto death. And the same doctor shopping will happen there too if the initiative passes, but all we will hear are that things are peachy keen.

That’s what happens when the intrinsic value of human life loses its potency as a fundamental principle of society.