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Physician-assisted suicide is the wrong solution

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2007 - Spring


At a time when life is devalued, when people are killed over necklaces or iPods, physician-assisted suicide ill serves patients, physicians and society, said Michael H. Levy, M.D., Ph.D., during a talk at internal medicine grand rounds in January.

“If we look at physician-assisted suicide as an act of hastening death,” said Levy, vice chair of the Department of Medical Oncology at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, “then it is an act of harm. … Do we really need to kill the patient to kill the pain?”

Levy said physician-assisted suicide violates key tenets of medical ethics; erodes trust in health professionals; and diminishes what he called “the miracle of life.” It also denies a patient’s loved ones the chance to provide care at the end of life. If legitimized, he said, it could force doctors to provide a service they oppose. And, he continued, it could stifle the search for alternate ways to relieve suffering.

“I think the risk to society far outweighs the benefits,” Levy said.

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