Friday, December 12, 2008

Euthanasia #7 - are we missing the point??

Well, it looks like we're jumping right back into the euthanasia debate. The Straits Times carried a Saturday special report on the issue, and Sandra Davie posted something in her blog...

The debate is important to have....but sadly it is beginning to sound tired,...kinda like a broken record that does not go anywhere.

People's positions get hardened around extreme and unrealistic positions. There are deliberate obfuscations so that it seems like everyone is playing in their own soccer fields. There is a general confusion about the AMD which is unfortunate as it is in a totally different playing field. Then there is the almost deliberate blurring of the line between murder and euthanasia, as if it is something done with the patient's full and informed consent. Sadly, after a protracted period of these confused meandering, the government will step in and proclaim that there is enough public debate, and that adequate public opinion has been sought, then proceed to implement its agenda.

How sad. How tragic.

I believe, if the discussions are to be meaningful:

a] The topics and definitions need to be carefully and clearly circumscribed. We need to deal with each problem clearly and specifically.

b] The main points of contention must be clearly identified and dealt with. In this regard, I see one of the major sticking points is the apprehension that the essentially noble idea, will eventually be abused, and extended to less noble ends. In the ST report, bioethicist Margaret Sommerville pointed out this 'slippery slope'. She says, "Once euthanasia is legalized, its availability expands.". She is right.

The government, and proponents of euthanasia must therefore spell out how this creeping availability, and extensions of the application of the euthanasia principle, can be managed and controlled.

c] The government must make more effort to manage the perception that this is somehow linked with the commercialization of health care. Why now?? It didn't help that this was brought up almost in the same breath as the organ trade issue. The public should be rightly concerned that euthanasia is only being surfaced now as an alternative medical option, just when there is this massive national push to establish Singapore as a 'grandmother of all medical hubs'.

If legalized, euthanasia should never ever be part of any activity associated with commercialized medicine. And it should never be offered to anyone who is a non citizen

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