Part 1: Let Everybody be Able to Find a Safe Doctor
The author prefers to remain anonymous because, as she indicates, she doesn’t want her medical condition known to her family.
My primary care physician retired, so I have to find a new one. This is an opportunity for me to pick a new one who will be safer with regard to my wish to stay alive until my body dies naturally. My state is going to impose “assisted suicide” within two years, everybody concedes, so it’s not too soon to line up a doctor who will not recommend I submit to it and who does not write fatal prescriptions for anybody.
Non-religious people like me will be especially vulnerable. Everybody faces the prospect of health care people and social workers telling us: “For people in your condition, our business is to help you die. If you are so irrational you want to commit the personal irresponsibility of living until your body dies naturally, speak to your priest.” Well, I don’t have a priest.
On the other hand, when I told a state secular right-to-life organization about my challenge described in the first paragraph, the only direction they knew to point me in was to the Catholic Medical Association. But I’m not a Catholic. I might contact that organization out of desperation (after first seeing whether the so-called reactionary branch of my own nominal religion has its own medical association), but I don’t want my “advisors” to see me as conversion material. In addition, some people are turned off by certain religious affiliations, some by all religious affiliations.
Furthermore, what opportunity is there for people who aren’t in a specific religious denomination to find out about a service run by that denomination? Has the idea of an overall directory of safe doctors never occurred to many people in pro-life offices because their own religion already provides an equivalent service? Do any of them provide such a service? By considering religious medical associations sufficient, one is cutting out many people; one is reducing the chance that more people who want to continue living after being declared death-eligible will do so. One is also reducing the chance that people who want to carry a pre-born child with a terminal illness to term or sustain the life of a severely disabled family member will actually do so.
Moreover, unfortunately, religiously-oriented pro-life people I’ve had experience with sometimes inadvertently include in their statements things that alienate me.
I have a cancer that was removed by operation but is considered likely to recur in someone my age. However, its rate of growth is not set. I hope that if it grows again, it will do so extremely slowly and take pauses of dormancy. Right now I can function normally, though I must see doctors more frequently than I had to before my diagnosis.
I have told neither my blood relatives nor most of my friends about my disease, and a major reason is that all indications point to them having the mainstream attitude that “suffering” is a capital crime and “once you start suffering, we plan to start hoping that you’ll quickly die.” Imagine one’s loved ones wishing one dead!
I certainly haven’t knowingly told clergy people of my native denomination. It has embraced death-hastening and abortion so thoroughly that I might no longer have the right to call myself a member of it. Imagine one’s clergy person telling an ill or handicapped person that it is a sin to stay alive!
Needed is a set up where everybody can find a safe doctor, clandestinely if necessary. Even if the number of safe doctors diminishes, people should be able to find the ones that remain.
Needed is a national database of life-respecting medical practitioners. Even if most of its input comes from religious organizations, it should not be identified with any one denomination, and should accept input from religiously “unaffiliated” doctors as well. It should not replace the religious directories; it should be in addition to them. It should be available in every pro-life organization’s, doctor’s, and volunteer’s office. But also, its existence should be disseminated to the general public.
Part 2: Let Everybody have a Conscience
by Richard Stith, commenting on the court decision in Ontario, Canada, to compel doctors to participate in euthanasia.
Patients’ rights as well as doctors’ rights are at stake. Patients have a right to what they consider to be a good doctor, one whose conscience does not permit him or her to participate in what the patient considers to be a heinous crime. The Ontario decision deeply undermines the doctor-patient relationship of trust.
Furthermore, not only is conscience needed in order to resist the oppression of evil societal orders, like those of the Nazis, but it also functions to undergird the legitimacy of law in daily life in a just society. Without conscience to provide deep legitimacy, all law becomes just a set of technical requirements to be ignored whenever you won’t get caught.
Why would the Ontario Court not recognize that it’s encouraging sociopathic behavior by its decision? This for me is the most interesting political and philosophical question.
For another of our blog posts on defending one’s self against euthanasia, see: