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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Physician Assisted Suicide?

Toh Puay San & Stanley Yeo, a DPP and a University Don has written a paper arguing their case for decriminalizing Physician Assisted Suicide(PAS). Now that is something new especially coming from people who are supposedly on the side of the gahmen (although they were writing in their own capacity).

Singapore already has the Advance Medical Directive (AMD) so do we need the PAS? And then there is Euthanasia. Of course in Singapore and in most part of the world, euthanasia is illegal but what if we extend the debate beyond PAS to euthanasia?

So what is the difference between these 3?

In YourSingapore, AMD is where a person "sign a legal document in advance to inform the doctor treating (in the event said person become terminally ill and unconscious) that he/she do not want any extraordinary life-sustaining treatment to be used to prolong the life." The tricky part here is the word 'extraordinary'. Just who decide what is extraordinary? And isn't the doctor here already practicing some thing like that without the AMD? Just how often do we hear of doctor telling the family to bring the patient home to 'die' peacefully or to stop administering oxygen....... And if a person did not make a AMD and fell critically sick later, then what? So the AMD is a useless piece of crap, a half past six measure that pleases nobody.

The Dictionary Online defines Euthanasia as "the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable , esp. a painful, disease or condition". Simply put, it means mercy killing which is tantamount to murder in most places.

On the other hand, PAD is "The voluntary termination of one's own life by administration of a substance with the direct or indirect assistance of a physician" re: Medicine

But put simply,
In AMD, somebody kill you by not saving you or withholding treatment
In Euthanasia, somebody kill you by an injecting a death inducing drug into you
In PAS, somebody kill you by giving you the 'poison' or drug and you kill yourself with it.

I am not going to argue for or against these. There is a very well documented article here looking at the debate from all angles. So really what's the difference? I only know that when it comes to my turn to go, I want to go painlessly and without causing prolong suffering to loved ones and without chalking up humongous cost which could have been best left for dependents. And when that day come, I hope it will really be possible for me to do so.

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