Death and Dignity

As euthanasia gains traction in Western culture, people are finding it harder to locate alternative forms of end-of-life care and treatment, or palliative care.

Palliative care aims at keeping a patient comfortable as they approach death.  Active treatment of whatever conditions have brought them to this point are discontinued, acknowledging that nothing more can be done medically to save the person.  Instead emphasis is placed on keeping them comfortable.  Sometimes this can involve heavy pain killers and sedatives such as morphine.  But the intent, medically, is not to cause death, but allow the patient’s own condition to bring them to death.

It may seem like a small distinction these days, but traditionally it is anything but.  The Hippocratic Oath specifically forbids doctors from actively assisting their patients to die, a tenet that has stood the test of time for over 2300 years, but now is considered outdated.  Why bother keeping someone comfortable and allowing them to die naturally when you can expedite the process?  Why allow someone to die when you can kill them more efficiently, on a scheduled time-table, and with very little medical knowledge or patient care and counseling?

It would seem that the right to die, adopted under the pretext of allowing people to choose to die with dignity, is actually preventing people from dying naturally with dignity.  Rather than adding another option for people with terminal disease, it may actually be reducing the number of options for such people.  Especially when insurance gets more active in the game.  Why bother paying for days or weeks of palliative care when someone who is obviously going to die anyways could die much sooner, and therefore much more  economically?

Your freedoms, right?  Or are they?

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