I've got some ambivalence about assisted suicide and euthanasia. There are some situations where I think most people would agree it's okay to help death come. I think of a small very premature baby who clearly is not going to make it. We decide to remove her from the respirator and let mom hold her in her final moments. In such instances, it seems appropriate to me to give the baby a little morphine, to relieve any pain and perhaps to relieve any discomfort or panic as the baby feels what must be like suffocation. We know, though, that morphine depresses a baby's breathing efforts and may actually hasten death. Is it, then, euthanasia or analgesia? Mercy killing or merely pain relief?
In adult assisted suicides, I worry about possible abuses that could happen, such as children pushing it on an elderly parent they don't want to take care of; or a depressed patient doing it when he really just needs psychiatric help for his mental illness; or someone whose chronic pain hasn't been treated properly and who needs proper analgesia, not death. Jack Kervorkian - one of the true clowns of our time - demonstrated that all those things could and would occur if assisted suicide became legal.
On balance, I think assisted suicide is a step a little too far down a slippery slope for my taste. I feel bad for people who legitimately want out of this life, but if we make a mistake in assisted suicide, we can't take it back.
P.S. Check out the latest Change of Shift nursing blog carnival at Emergiblog.