Dear NJ AAPS Members and Friends,
Earlier this week the NJ Assembly passed A2270 which would legalize physician assisted suicide.
The bill now moves to the NJ Senate and we urge you to ask your Senator to oppose this bill. CLICK HERE to find your Senator's contact information. AAPS Past-President Dr. Alieta Eck's letter to the Senate follows below.
To: Members of the NJ Senate
Re: Death With Dignity Bill to legalize Physician Assisted Suicide
On November 13th, the NJ Assembly voted to pass A2270, the Death with Dignity Bill. I urge the NJ Senate to vote “No” when it comes before them.
I am a physician in private practice and served as President of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons in 2012. This organization was founded in 1943 to preserve the private patient-physician relationship. It is our belief that physicians have earned the trust of their patients, and a patient should never have to wonder whether the physician is coming to improve his life or end it.
Physicians who have taken the Oath of Hippocrates know that it is their solemn duty to respect all human life. Every unique person has a different course in life, and it is our role to minimize suffering wherever possible.
Depression, terminal illness and financial issues can lead to despair, and rather than helping see a reason to live, it would be a violation of good medicine for a physician to assist his patient in the irreversible course of assisted suicide. There is never enough evidence to insure that there is not a hidden coercion on the part of family members who do not have the best interest of the patient at heart.
We physicians have learned how to save lives, and we use our training and experience to determine when the process of dying has begun. At that point we do not want to employ heroic measures, as this would only prolong suffering. There is often a fine line between allowing a patient to die a peaceful death and making that death happen.
It is always dangerous for the government to intervene in any way other than to promote the culture of life. Instead of legalizing physician-assisted suicide, we need to promote all avenues of improving mental health. And in the case of a patient who has entered into the dying process, the physician needs to supervise the compassionate, life-affirming programs of hospice and palliative care.
Thank you very much for giving careful consideration to these viewpoints.
Alieta Eck, MD