Physician Assisted Suicide
1. A request for assisted Suicide is typically a cry for help. It is in reality a call for counseling, assistance, and positive alternatives as solutions for very real problems.
2. Suicidal Intent is typically transient. Of those who attempt suicide but are stopped, less than 4 percent go on to kill themselves in the next five years; less than 11 percent will commit suicide over the next 35 years.
3.Terminally Ill patients who desire death are depressed and depression is treatable In those with terminal illness. In one study, of the 24 percent of terminally ill patients who desired death, all had clinical depression.
4. Pain is controllable. Modern medicine has the ability to control pain. A person who seeks to kill him or herself to avoid pain does not need legalized assisted suicide but a doctor better trained in alleviating pain.
5. In the U.S. legalizing "voluntary active euthanasia [assisting suicide] means legalizing nonvoluntary euthanasia. State courts have ruled time and again that if competent people have a right, the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment requires that incompetent people be "given" the same "right."
6. In the Netherlands, legalizing voluntary assisted suicide for those with terminal illness has spread to include nonvoluntary euthanasia for many who have no terminal illnesses. Half the killings in the Netherlands are now nonvoluntary, and the problems for which death in now the legal "solution" include such things as mental illness, permanent disability, and even simple old age.
7. You don't solve problems by getting rid of the people to whom the problems happen. The more difficult but humane solution to human suffering is to address the problems.
My name is Carlos F. Gomez, and I am honored to have been asked by this committee of congress, at the invitation of Representative Hyde, to testify before you on this controversial issue of assisted-suicide.
Before beginning, I would like to preface my remarks with one disclaimer. I am currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine, on the faculty at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Additionally, I serve as Medical Director of our in-patient hospice and palliative care unit. Moreover, I serve on the board of our local hospice organization, Hospice of the Piedmont, where I also serve as Associate Medical Director. Though my work with these organizations has greatly enhanced nd deepened my commitment to the care of the terminally ill, I in no way claim to speak for or on behalf of any of the institutions for which I serve. The opinions expressed below and in my written testimony are entirely my own.
Ladies and gentlemen of this committee, I am a physician who spends a significant part of his working day caring for terminally ill people and their families. It is work which I find ennobling, enriching, rewarding, and -- unfortunately -- sorely underrepresented in my profession....