The majority of doctors and nurses involved in specialist palliative care reject the legalisation of physician assisted suicide (PAS). This book explores the reasons why the healthcare professionals who have the most experience of caring for dying patients should object to a change in the law. Debate about euthanasia and PAS often arises in response to a well publicised tragic case of unrelieved suffering. Such heart rending stories do not reflect the fact that the majority of people dying have a dignified death. There is a marked disparity between medical intuitions and the philosophers' arguments about euthanasia and PAS. It seems that part of the moral constitution of a doctor is a commitment not to intend the death of a patient and to protect them from harm. The perspective of those who are privileged to care for thousands of dying patients and their families should inform the debate about PAS.This book will enable those who are not working within palliative care to gain an insight into the scope of this speciality and to understand why legalisation of PAS should be resisted to maintain and improve care of dying patients.
Honorary Senior Lecturer in Palliative Medicine, University of Edinburgh, and former Chair of the Ethics Committee of the Association for Palliative Medicine
Background to the debate. The language of the debate. The problem of unrelieved suffering. Palliative care. Ethical arguments. Legislation in UK. Learning from experience. Physician assisted suicide in Clinical Practice. The patient's story. Positive approaches to care of the dying.