May 24, 2022

Wire Service Canada

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Good care and palliative care don’t trust the science

Dear Director,
I would like to forcefully reiterate this: Assisted suicide and euthanasia to end life are not the answer, not even in the desperate situations that have been talked about so much for some time. Why am I reasserting this firmly? Because I consider such procedures a defeat for what is human and I think their acceptance by a doctor would be disastrous. Such a choice would make him constantly think of his job as a failure. But in recent decades medicine has made great strides and many diseases that were previously considered incurable are today becoming treatable and curable.

This opens up unimaginable prospects even for seriously ill patients. This is why in general it seems so wrong to talk about life expectancy and the ultimate insurmountable stages. Euthanasia and assisted suicide by suicide, today as in the time of Hippocrates, are incompatible with medical activity and are in conflict with those fundamental rights of liberty and conscience which physicians claim in all their legal and humane areas, as well as the duty of care, as well as required by the National Health Service, which states, in its founding law , on protecting the weak and vulnerable, the right to treatment and protection of life.

It is important to evaluate the identity and value of life, to recognize the limit that belongs to it and distinguish it, in order to protect and respect life itself in its entirety, and not to allow anyone to modify or mortify it in its temporal development. It is therefore necessary to address issues related to border situations from a courageous perspective of competent solidarity, that helps, supports and accompanies those who are forced to live in situations of marginalization, uprooting, loneliness and all situations that require existence. Hospitals need to be redesigned, so that in them not only gowns and pajamas meet, but those who turn to them are welcomed, embraced, taken by hand, comforted by passion, treated with holistic therapies, never risky and never. Stubborn, but always respectful of human dignity.

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Unfortunately, the Law on Palliative Care, the only real alternative to attested lethal solutions, is largely unworkable after nearly twelve years, despite being passed according to three very clear core principles: protecting patient dignity and independence without any discrimination; protect and enhance the quality of life to its end; Appropriate health and social support for the patient and family. You, the director, remembered this in dilaogo with Marco Capato, one of the promoters of the referendum on the legality of killing the party to which he agrees. Remarkably, on that occasion the Coscioni advocate launched a call for a common commitment to the true implementation of the Palliative Care Act. Priorities cannot be reversed. And this battle of civilization, in which many, even all, participate, should be the only reasonable priority.

In fact, Law 38 of 2010 was ignored while, on the other hand, corporate economic logic prevailed in the healthcare organisation, forgetting that before any motive to rationalize care or earning opportunities, there are mandatory needs for patients. As a physician, and especially on behalf of the Catholic Doctors whom I represent, I hold myself in the trenches against euthanasia and assisted suicide and against any abandonment of treatment. Doctors are not required to cause or cause death. Against this clumsy attempt, many physicians, and certainly Catholic physicians, point to the primacy of conscience.

Any health worker who induces or acts to end a person’s life betrays their own mission to remain close to the patient, indicating the proportionality of care, evaluating and administering it on a case-by-case basis. Humanity, care, science and competence must travel together, never separated, to make medicine an art comprising the mind and heart, combining knowledge, compassion, professionalism, piety, competence, and empathy.

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President of the Italian Catholic Doctors Association (AMCI)