While a physician-assisted suicide law is supported by California residents, some doctors remain skeptical.
California recently became the fifth state to enact physician-assisted suicide legislation with a strong support from the public but physicians who might be called upon to write the prescriptions, however, are not as certain about the law as the Los Angeles Times reports in “As California’s End of Life act goes into effect, some doctors question where to draw the line.”
Some doctors point out that the Hippocratic Oath prohibits physicians from providing poison to kill a patient. Thus, writing a prescription for a lethal dose of medication, even for a terminally ill patient, requires the doctors to break their oaths.
Many doctors also think that this has the potential to change the doctor-patient relationship in a substantial way. Doctors are normally called upon to provide ways to make their patients’ lives better not to end those lives.
The debate over physician assisted suicide is likely to be with us for a long time as advocates look to enact legislation in more states. It is unlikely to ever be an easy question to answer for either physicians or their patients.
Reference: Los Angeles Times (June 6, 2016) “As California’s End of Life act goes into effect, some doctors question where to draw the line.”