A bill to legalize physician assisted suicide in Hawaii has been put on hold — for now.
The assisted-suicide bill in Hawaii was just deferred. We may see it threaten patients again in coming years. I offer my comments as a psychiatrist, and as a clinical expert on suicide.
Assisted-suicide is, at the very least, a medical procedure unlike any other. A surgeon hopes that his patients will wake up again, and be alive to critique him. A living patient is a complaining (and perhaps a litigious) patient.
A dead patient is a patient who by definition cannot complain — a point never lost on pirates (“Dead men tell no tales”) or on the Mafia. In fact, there is probably something profound in the old Jewish idea of glorifying God through our kvetching.
To bring the point back to doctoring: Imagine, if you will, a procedure where a patient cannot complain afterwards. Picture a procedure whose purpose is to end complaining, precisely by taking away a patient’s ability to complain.