Last updated on February 16th, 2022 at 02:18 pm
Less than two weeks ago, at the end of the debate that took place in the House of Lords, which, together with the House of Commons, forms the parliament of the United Kingdom, Lord Forsyth, a member of the Conservative Party, Peer of the Kingdom, decided to withdraw the amendment he had proposed that would have introduced the so-called “assisted suicide” in the text of the Health and Care Bill, that would reorganize part of the British health care system.
The reason for the renunciation is one of form, rather than substance, and the nullity derives from purely procedural matters, certainly not from the content of the amendment. In fact, there is already a text, currently under consideration by the parliament, specific on the subject, namely the Assisted Dying Bill, advanced by Baroness Meacher.
Yet, there are those who are diametrically opposed to “assisted suicide,” to euthanasia, to the hoaxes behind the misleading label “good death.”
The Association of Palliative Medicine (APM), for example, rings alarm bells when it points out that the public is “scared” because of the behavior of the media, which pay inordinate attention to tragic and traumatic cases of suffering in the context of the end of life, ignoring instead the many positive results, in alleviating and soothing the pain of terminally ill patients, of palliative care delivered properly.
A survey of nearly 300 association members released in late January found that the vast majority of physicians working in palliative care, at 87%, believe that the media is unlikely to report cases of positive application and use of palliative care. Because of this, “[…] there is a high level of misunderstanding by patients and families with respect to palliative care, which may be exacerbated by the public discussion of assisted suicide/euthanasia.”
Narrative focused on negative outcomes scares away vulnerable patients
The president of the APM, Dr. Amy Proffitt, said that physicians who provide palliative care confess to being “deeply concerned” about how “grossly misleading” some of the reports on the quality of end-of-life care in Britain are. “Stories that tell ‘good’ deaths, explain available treatments and how to access end-of-life care are largely sacrificed, in favor of those that focus on negative outcomes, which unfortunately are scaring away vulnerable patients,” she added.
Patients and families are confused
Sixty-seven percent of physicians interviewed during the survey stated that patients and families often “[…] confuse palliative care with euthanasia, especially when it comes to the use of injectable opioids.” One of them said, “Palliative care is already equivalent to euthanasia in the mind [del pubblico]: they associate syringe pumps with euthanasia and this is a myth we need to [sfatare] daily when interacting with patients and their families in the hospital.”
Palliative care physicians oppose euthanasia
This is the key question: already in 2020 a survey conducted by the British Medical Association (BMA) showed that 84% of physicians who offer palliative medicine would not be willing to perform euthanasia on a patient.
Catherine Robinson, the spokesperson for Right To Life UK, a pro-life charity and focal point for the cross-party Parliamentary Intergroup for Life, said, “[…] it is so easy for the public to get the wrong idea about what palliative care actually involves. The point is not to end the patient’s life, as in assisted suicide and euthanasia, but to manage the symptoms as much as possible and ensure the patient […] as peaceful and dignified a death as possible.” He concluded, “[…] an excessive focus on tragic deaths and end-of-life suffering can lead to the perception that there is no hope and create the false choice between a painful, prolonged and unnecessarily unpleasant death and assisted suicide or euthanasia. But this is not the case at all. Good palliative care is, or should be, an option for all of us at the end of our lives.”