LETTER: Euthanasia cartoon falls flat

A doctor’s responsibility is to help his patient to the best of his judgement and ability, says Saanich doctor

The cartoon showed a man with a stethoscope standing at the bedside of a person reaching out, saying, “I know you are in unbearable pain that can no longer be alleviated … But I gotta level with you:  assisting with your suicide would make me feel really uncomfortable.”

A doctor’s responsibility is to help his patient to the best of his judgement and ability.  If a doctor feels that a patient has pain that he can no longer alleviate by drugs, the doctor can ask for help.

In my experience the Palliative Care Team will answer a telephone call within an hour, and they are very good at helping a patient manage pain.

The Criminal Code prohibits physician-assisted death. If Canadians want their doctors to assist with suicide, they need to change the law — get the federal parliament to pass a bill indicating that a doctor can help a person commit suicide, specifying the conditions under which such “help” can be provided.

Dr. Bill Cavers is a Victoria area GP currently serving as the president of Doctors of BC.

In his article “Doctors’ attitudes shifting on physician-assisted suicide,” on page 381 in the October 2014 British Columbia Medical Journal (BCMJ), he reviewed that the General Council of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) just passed the following motion on end-of-life care by an overwhelming majority: “The CMA supports the right of physicians, within the bounds of existing legislation, to follow their conscience when deciding whether to provide medical aid in dying as defined in the CMA’s policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

Dr. Robert Shepherd

Saanich