Today, California joined Vermont, Oregon, Montana, and Washington as the fifth state to allow physician-assisted self-termination by prescribing life ending medications. Click the image for the story from which this excerpt is taken:
As written, the law requires two doctors to agree, before prescribing the drugs, that a patient has six months or less to live. Patients must be able to swallow the medication themselves and must affirm in writing, 48 hours before taking the medication, that they will do so.
How have we come from the moral outrage over Dr. Jack Kevorkian to legislation legitimizing this practice? I don’t know. But I do have some misgivings.
Firstly, doctors are not gods and they cannot reliably predict who has six months or less to live. These probabilistic statements are impossible to make. Witness President Jimmy Carter who had metastatic melanoma to his brain only to be eradicated by immunotherapy that restored his immune competency.
Secondly, the involvement of physicians, who get paid by the health care system, sets up a conflict of interest situation when health plans might easily want to switch from paying for experimental or comfort care to expediting the end-of-life option. Physician-assisted suicide has long been practiced on a case-by-case sub rosa level with the anguish and personal involvement of an ethical and involved personal physician. Now it reeks of some kind of “death panel” and that should concern us as a society and consumers of so-called “health care”.
Thirdly, there can always be cures from science or by the patients themselves who can use their own innate capacity to heal. Consider the “incurable” disease of PMR, which causes chronic debilitating pain; and consider this anecdotal evidence of improvement in my webinar.
In this scene from Star Trek, actor Deforest Kelly (as Dr. McCoy) recalls the tragedy of his father’s assisted suicide just a short time after the “incurable and fatal” condition of his suffering was cured by science:
Dr. McCoy and his Father (Physician Assisted Death)
So how did we get to legislation protecting a new generation of would-be Kevorkians when that used to be such a negative association? As you will read in this blog, the job of physician has always been a sort of slow-motion suicide counselor and the physician has always held hopelessness to be its core belief. Allopathic medicine has misconceived life as the slow and inevitable decay of the body to be clumsily and fecklessly managed with newer pharmaceuticals. All attempt at using natural means such as diet, mindset, alternative therapies, and herbs have been marginalized as a matter of near religious fervor.
I am grateful that my perspective on the hopelessness of life and the merits of trying to stay young and healthy have shifted because this new legislative fig leaf is not a boon to patients but rather an uncovering of the dark subtext of much of what passes for the healing arts.
Life is a precious gift meant to be savored until the bittersweet end with loved ones. It is not something that you have two bureaucratic physicians agree is hopeless and worthy of ending with a pill.
Late Fragment (by Raymond Carver)
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
3 thoughts on “June 9th, 2016 – Physician Assisted Suicide legalized in California”
After 42 years maintaining peoples lives with ventilators and adjunct therapies I disagree with your concept that ending ones life voluntarily is bad -a sell out. Many can’t spend $25,000 on what may be considered a quack drug. Dignity is gone with tubes everywhere and pain racks the body. People need a choice. JP
Dear JP, thanks for your comment. Perhaps you misunderstood my intended meaning. I am not opposed to physician assisted suicide per se. I am concerned about the ramifications of having insurance companies get involved because they pay doctors and pay to keep so-called terminal patients alive. I don’t know what you mean by $25,000 but the cost to be on adaptogens could be as low as $400 a year if you take generics. So better to keep people’s stem cells from eroding and ending up on ventilators. It is sad that the FDA won’t approve autologous stem cell use but they approve stem cells to treat dead people. Clearly sickness is a business and rather than keep people sick for as long as is profitable, our society should keep people healthy for as long as possible.
Thanks for the reply. Clearly sickness creates a business and doctors often become primarily businessmen . I heard conversations at the ICU desk over decades on how to shelter wealth. The odd impression I gained was doctors very often refused to consider new facts because they had invested so much time learning the required and retired factoids. That is why I was excited with the news of telemares in 2007 and began with product B when Jerome introduced it to me some time ago. I just began taking TA65 250 last week. The $25,000 mentioned above was the TA65 price when I first read about it. I did not sign up for Recharge because it has not been made clear to me by literature what it is. I realize you have a problem with the FDA and therefore constrained. Thank you for your continuing work. JP