Aid-in-Dying is Not Suicide

I was interested to read Christopher Flanders’ letter on behalf of the Hawaii Medical Association in response to Civil Beat’s Oct. 5, 2012, article, “New Aid-in-Dying Service Gets Inquiries.” Flanders was responding to the piece’s closing question, “Is the aid-in-dying movement a humane approach to a difficult subject, or is it a violation of ethical standards?” I appreciate this opportunity to keep the issue of end-of-life choice in the forefront for healthy discussion.

I believe Flanders is correct when he states that, “The physician’s primary obligation is to advocate for the individual patient.” That is why I, and the majority of Hawaii physicians as well as state residents, feel that physicians should help their terminally ill patients achieve a peaceful death when patients request it and when options for recovery are nil.

Aid in dying is widely supported in the medical community precisely because it empowers physicians to respect the wishes of their patients. The American Medical Women’s Association, the American Medical Student Association, and the American Public Health Association all support terminal patients’ right to choice at the end of life.

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