Monday, March 28, 2011
The "double effect," supported by the American Medical Association, states that a doctor may prescribe pain medication to a dying patient in doses that are lethal because the intention of the doctor is to relieve pain, not end the patient's life. Palliative medicine, the specialty field that focuses on ways to alleviate pain, is often held to account by opponents of assisted suicide because of what fails to be a "bright line" during the process of dying. How much medicine is too much? Who decides? What if the patient has no advanced directive? Would they want to be in pain or to life a few hours or days longer?
A story in Saturday's The Underground, a UK publication on "Pop Culture from a Christian perspective" quotes the president of the UK Catholic Medical Association (and a lot of excerpts from the U.S. based LifeNews) on the unfounded accusation that "mercy killing" is rampant in that country. A clip from the article, below. Note the muddling of end of life issues by confusing palliative care, hospice, assisted suicide and prevalent Catholic teaching on suffering, along with a restatement of the U.S. case of Terri Schiavo: