Ethics: Many Physicians Would Assist Patient Suicide if Legal

If physician-assisted suicide were legal, 36% of physicians would be willing to prescribe medication to hasten a patient's death. The investigators found that 3.3% of the physicians reported that they had written at least one prescription to be used to hasten death, and 4.7% said that they had administered at least one lethal injection. Interestingly, Catholic physicians were least likely and Jewish physicians or those with no religious affiliation were most likely to be willing to provide assistance or to have actually done so.

N Engl J Med 1998;338:1193-1201.

COMMENT: It seems quite clear that our culture is gradually shifting toward euthanasia. I suspect it will not be very long before it will actually be legal for physicians to participate in this process. I really had no idea that such a high percentage of physicians were already participating in euthanasia already. This is really another sad commentary on the general decline in the morals of our current culture. By nearly every measurable standard we are in rapid ethical decline. I believe the most significant confirmation of this impression is the lack of outrage at the sexual behavior of our president.

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