Protecting Psychiatric Patients and Others from the Assisted-Suicide Movement: Insights and Strategies

By Barbara A. Olevitch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5

Soothing Fears that Progress in Medicine Will Lead to Financial Disaster

Advocates of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia see themselves as levelheaded realists who, in reaction to medical progress, are forced by compassion and fiscal integrity to make “hard choices.”

I think that it is time to challenge this state of affairs and to see that some of the presumed realities that are driving people to the conclusion that managed dying is necessary are actually unrealistic disaster scenarios.

The argument in favor of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia comes in two forms: (1) the fear of futile pain and suffering, and (2) the fear of financial disaster.

The pain and suffering argument emphasizes the subjective state of the patients. It is maintained that many patients are being kept alive and suffering in hopeless conditions and that continued medical progress will make this problem worse. The financial argument claims that the cost of maintaining these hopeless patients is going to skyrocket, absorbing more and more of the economy.

In the next few chapters, we will take up these arguments in detail and show that the implication of disaster is based upon false premises and exaggerations.

It will be very helpful to our analysis to separate the pain and suffering argument and the financial argument. Otherwise, we run into the following difficulty: When contemplating new hopeful research and treatment directions, enthusiasm is dampened by the fear that these directions are luxuries that we cannot afford. When discussing new ways of paying for research and treatment,

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