The report’s executive summary was farsighted. Among its highlights: No matter how carefully any guidelines are framed, assisted suicide will be practiced through the prism of social inequality and bias; the growing concern about health care costs increases the risks presented by legalizing assisted suicide; and if assisted suicide and euthanasia are legalized, it will blunt our perception of what it means for one individual to assist another to commit suicide or to take another person’s life.

The task force, comprised of members who held different opinions on the ethical acceptability of assisted suicide and active euthanasia, unanimously recommended that existing law should not change to permit either.

The task force also answered how to provide compassion and dignity to the terminally ill: “As a society, we can do far more to benefit these patients by improving pain relief and palliative care than by changing the law to make it easier to commit suicide or to obtain a lethal injection.”

A central foundation of the medical profession lies in the physician-patient relationship. Patients place their lives in our hands, and we pledge to act in their best interest. This is best embodied in the professional oaths we take.

This critical relationship will be fractured with the legalization of assisted suicide, and is incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.

Many patients will lose trust in physicians if these practices are permitted. Every generation believes it possesses a newfound wisdom, an enlightened status that the previous generation never achieved, so the constraints of the past no longer apply. If we allow it, this false hubris will cause us to make the same mistakes that past generations have made.

In 1994, Cuomo’s Task Force on Life and the Law concluded that a change in law would be “unwise and dangerous public policy.” My hope is that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will heed the wisdom of his father and preserve the present law.

Anthony Pivarunas, D.O., is an OB-GYN physician practicing at Catholic Health.

http://buffalonews.com/2017/06/06/another-voice-1994-report-assisted-suicide-still-holds-true/