On May 2, 2018, Medical Director, Family Physician, Hospitalist, and recent accountable care organization medical director, Paul A. Carpentier, MD, West Islip, NY 11795, submitted the following testimony to the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Health on proposed legislation that would legalize physician-assisted suicide. The following is Dr. Carpentier’s testimony:
Dear Assembly Representatives,
I will be brief because I’m sure that you have many pages to review.
Thus, I will put my points in bulleted format.
The proposed concept of physician assisted suicide is a tremendously bad idea because the proposal:
- Violates the Hippocratic Oath;
- Scandalizes the true meaning of compassion;
- Weakens hospice resources;
- Increases suicide in the community;
- Disproportionately takes advantage of poor black people;
- Facilitates financial abuse by families;
- Sets doctors in the proscribed position of judge, jury and executioner;
- Was unanimously ruled by The New York State Court of Appeals that “medical aid in dying” is nothing more than a euphemism for killing;
- Eliminates the vulnerable from society’s concern, and thus
- Weakens civilization;
- Is unnecessary, according to palliative specialists and good primary care doctors;
- Defeats this solution: True compassion and comfort care;
- The way we think becomes habits, then standards, then duty;
- Undermines our principles – Jimmy Carter and Abraham Lincoln stated that when the going gets rough, we need to then hold to our principles more than ever;
- Changes the relationship between doctors and patients;
- Includes restraints that will be ignored in practice – as evidenced in Oregon;
- Promotes lying by Doctors;
- Lessens doctors’ responsibility toward those patients who do not want suicide in spite of their medical team’s recommendation;
- Destabilizes the medical principles, established more than 2000 years ago, that led to the development of the world’s 1st hospitals, our brilliant and altruistic medical schools, and our excellent modern medical innovations;
- And decreases the trust of the citizens for the medical system.
Imagine, if you will, that we legalize assisted drowning. Obviously, we would want the lifeguards to do it, because they know the most about drowning. But then, further imagine, that your family is at the beach and the lifeguard in the tall white chair is known to participate in assisted drowning. How much would you trust that lifeguard with your grandchildren’s lives? And how much would you trust the system that is advocating for lifeguards?
This legislation is proposing not just an option—it changes everything.