TO THE EDITOR:
In March 1996, an overwhelming majority of Rhode Island legislators voted to ban physician assisted suicide (PAS). Only one senator voted in favor of it. Yet today, “right to die” folks in our legislature continue their promotion of death of the innocent as a solution to problems. Sponsors of this PAS bill are many of the same legislators who in 2019 legalized killing of the unborn up to birth as the extreme answer to a problem pregnancy.
Ending a patient’s life is a decision that most health care professionals realize they have no right to make. Doctors should never be forced to participate in killing. Medical professionals/organizations oppose PAS as “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.” They know it would corrupt the medical profession for a patient’s trust in their doctor is based on a code of medical ethics which calls them to heal not to kill. We know that killing the innocent is morally wrong and are called to do better. How we care for the weak and vulnerable among us points to what is most noble and dignified about our humanity. True mercy allows us to ease suffering and affirm the dignity of a life at every stage of its development.
Palliative care such as that provided by hospice, affirms life. It is meant to relieve suffering and improve the quality of life and regards dying as a normal, natural process. It neither hastens nor postpones death but rather provides relief from pain while integrating psychological and spiritual care for the patient, and a support system for the family of the dying person. No amount of medical intervention can replace the compassion and love that a dying person needs and deserves. This is the true prescription for “death with dignity.”
Faith tells us that each of us is a unique unrepeatable act of God’s creation and as such, very valuable. The moment of death is not our decision but ultimately that of the one who created us. Scripture warns us not to call evil good. This bill is not about “compassion and dignity” —but about actively and intentionally killing the innocent…. And there is a huge moral gap between the two.
Maria Parker, MBA, Westerly