Sen. Ghazala Hashmi’s (D-Chesterfield/Richmond) bill to legalized euthanasia in Virginia (under the Orwellian title of “medically assisted death”) is of grave concern. There are three critical errors.
(1) Foundational to the practice of medicine is to first: do no harm. The goal of medical professionals is to restore health whenever possible. If there is a medical issue where that is not possible, then practitioners provide compassionate care. COM is “coming alongside,” PASSION is “suffering.” Compassion is coming alongside one’s patient during suffering. It is NEVER to end, or knowingly assist in ending, a patient’s life. To do so would destroy the trust patients place in their physicians as bringers of healing, not bringers of death.
(2) Palliative care has advanced remarkably and with it the ability to ensure that a patient does not experience pain that is “too much to bear.” This type of compassionate and engaged palliative care routinely occurs in homes, nursing homes and hospitals across the US.
(3) A patient with “terminal” illness is incredibly vulnerable. Under the guise of “autonomy,” giving the patient the “right” to end their life has the potential to create a sense of “duty” to die for the benefit of others. That is a burden that should never be placed on a vulnerable patient. As healthcare professionals, we strongly oppose this legislation.
Richmond Council of the Christian Medical and Dental Association
James C. Anderson, MD
John D. Bowman, MD
E. J. Read, Jr. MD
John A. Harler, MD
Wilson C Merchant, III MD
Mark D. Townsend, MD, MHCM
William Angus, DDS
Scott T. Armistead, MD
This letter was also submitted to The Richmond Times-Dispatch