By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC
This pro doctor-prescribed death meme is so old and tired: Pain control can lead to a sooner death, hence it is no different than assisted suicide. And now, in the Canadian attempt to impose assisted suicide by judicial fiat, a pro assisted suicide lawyer cross examined a palliative care expert to “force” him to admit that palliative seadation can lead to an earlier death. From the Canada.com story:
Dying British Columbians can receive “palliative sedation” that may speed up death, a Vancouver doctor testified Tuesday. Dr. Douglas McGregor, the regional director of palliative care for Vancouver Coastal Health, appeared Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court, which is hearing a constitutional challenge of the province’s law banning assisted suicide. McGregor told the Vancouver courtroom that he has given palliative sedation to six or seven dying patients at a Vancouver hospice.
He said it is usually given to a patient who has days or hours left to live and wants to be “comfortable” — free of pain — until death. But under questioning from lawyer Joe Arvay, McGregor admitted palliative sedation can hasten death because of dehydration. Arvay, who is representing a woman with a terminal illness, questioned McGregor about the process that renders the patient unconscious.”(Death) can happen,” McGregor conceded. “One thing we try to avoid is killing the patient,” he told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith.
Big deal. So what? Who cares? Irrelevant.
Palliative sedation, when used in proper cases ,is a legitimate medical treatment. Like any legitimate medical treatment, it can have the unintended side effect of hastening death. That doesn’t mean it is the same as euthanasia. Indeed, open heart surgery can, and does, hasten death every day when patients die on the table.
If that isn’t euthanasia–and I don’t know anyone who would say that a patient who died during surgery was euthanized–then palliative care isn’t the equivalent of euthanasia either. Such sophistry! Good grief.