One of the most insidious and selfish arguments of assisted suicide advocates is that pain control hastens death so that it is no different than assisted suicide. This can keep patients from accepting aggressive pain control and doctors reluctant to prescribe it. Pain control experts, such as my co-author of Power Over Pain: How to Get the Pain Control You Need, Dr. Eric Chevlen, has long contended that this isn’t the case. But now, that message is getting wider reportage. From the story:
The findings show, [Dr. Declan]Walsh said, that “morphine can be used safely even in patients who are very ill to relieve pain, and that physicians need not be as concerned about the use of the drug in that situation as we have been traditionally taught. This is all contingent on morphine being prescribed correctly.”
Excellent. People deserve to have their pain treated. And while it is true that any medical treatment can have unwanted side effects, sometimes including death, worrying about “hastening death” should not be part of the equation when treating severe pain.
Now, will the assisted suicide advocates please shut up about this issue? Don’t count on it.