How should professionals in palliative care and the medical field respond to the growing topic of physician-assisted suicide? This is the question being asked more and more as the debate on assisted suicide rapidly gains traction. Dr. Diana Barnard sees the argument as an opportunity to improve end-of-life care, saying that it “brought with it a whole parallel movement to try and more broadly look at the needs of people facing serious illnesses at the end of their lives”.
Boosting Awareness of Palliative Care
Regardless of their position, many healthcare professionals have agreed, “the recently reignited national debate over physician-assisted suicide will boost awareness and use of palliative care and hospice care”. Both types of care focus on patients and loved ones to ease pain for chronic or end-of-life conditions. Many supporters and opponents of the issue say that there is hope that “palliative care can improve quality of life for suffering patients and may reduce their desire to ingest lethal medication”. However, not all are so optimistic. Some don’t see the connection between the growth of palliative care and the discussion of physician-assisted suicide. Some are steadfast in their beliefs that “there are patients who will still seek the death-with-dignity option, regardless of the quality of their care”.