The View from Hell

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States Coerce Their Citizens By Prosecuting Their Doctors

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In the UK, Dr. Iain Kerr, a family physician, was suspended from his practice for six months for prescribing 30 tablets of the sleeping pill sodium amytal to an elderly, ill adult patient at her request.

The patient did not use the pills to die, but disposed of them when she found out Dr. Kerr was being investigated for acceding to her request. She later committed suicide using a much less reliable drug cocktail consisting of Temazepam, antihistamines and painkillers.

Dr. Kerr told the General Medical Counsel:

I think when dealing with someone holding a rational view of the circumstances in which they want to end their life, it was my duty to at least consider whether he or she had a reasonable opinion and that it was my duty to assist if I thought I agreed with that patient’s assessment.

Prosecuting physicians who risk sanctions to respect the choices of their patients and treat them as rational adults is yet another way in which governments act coercively to prevent suicides, without addressing the suffering that causes suicides in any way.

It is unfortunate that the General Medical Counsel felt the need to sanction Dr. Kerr for his act. But he may stand before any man or god, confident that his action was the morally correct one and the one most respectful of humanity.

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Written by Sister Y

July 25, 2008 at 1:19 am

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