New paper examines law, ethics in end-of-life medical care
Sept. 27, 2019
NEW YORK — Today, World Youth Alliance (WYA) announced the release of a new white paper on assisted suicide and euthanasia, authored by WYA’s Director of Advocacy Nadja Wolfe and Director of Partnerships Hrvoje Vargić. The paper examines critical legal, ethical, and medical aspects of assisted suicide and euthanasia, practices which are the subject of growing advocacy movements that often obscure serious risks.
“From a European perspective, where we have several countries that have adopted these practices, we can see that physician assisted suicide has expanded far beyond the original limitations in place,” said Hrovje Vargić, co-author of the paper. “Today, someone can request lethal medications due to mental health conditions or otherwise manageable illnesses, even if they are a teenager. This fundamentally changes the role of the doctor and the doctor-patient relationship, putting already vulnerable people at risk.”
The white paper examines those risks, looking at the ways in which the practices undermine, rather than support, patient autonomy, as medical professionals decide which conditions justify ending someone’s life. These judgments are susceptible to family pressure, and can reflect stigma and discriminatory attitudes about living with disability.
“As many disability rights activists have pointed out, it is wrong to offer some people suicide prevention and others suicide assistance,” co-author Nadja Wolfe stated. “Measures, such as strengthening doctor-patient relationships, excellent palliative care, and holistic psychosocial support, ensure that everyone receives care in line with her dignity.”
“WYA members understand that each of us has dignity simply because we are human,” said WYA President Lord Pomperada. “Promoting and protecting this dignity, including for those who are seriously ill, is a core part of our mission. We are pleased to launch this white paper to equip our members, especially those pursuing careers in medicine, to stand up for dignity at the end of life.”