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Study Exposes Cruelty of Assisted Suicide Deaths

Our opposition often uses the “avoid suffering” argument to advance their position on Physician Assisted Suicide. The article below refutes that argument.

A new study, which compared the methods used in assisted suicide to methods of execution, has found that assisted suicide can lead to “inhumane” deaths, with some people taking as long as seven days to die.

Although one of the main arguments in favor of assisted suicide is alleviating pain and suffering, the researchers said that current techniques were falling short of the “optimum method” of ensuring a person was unconscious prior to dying in order to minimize pain and distress. The result of this, they said, was that some people risked being killed by “suboptimal, or even cruel, means,” especially the “vulnerable.” The researchers found a relatively high incidence of vomiting (up to 10 per cent), prolongation of death (up to 7 days), and re‐awakening from coma (up to 4 per cent).

 The researchers published their findings in a paper in the Anaesthesia journal, in which they argued that any decision by a society to sanction assisted dying “should logically go hand‐in‐hand with defining the acceptable method.” The huge inconsistency in methods being used to end people’s lives was further evidence that doctors have not yet agreed on the best way to carry out assisted suicide, they said.

In some US states and European countries, the most common method was a self‐administered barbiturate ingestion, which they said resulted in the person dying “slowly” from asphyxia.

In the Netherlands, a physician-administered injection combining a general anesthetic and neuromuscular blockade is permitted. The researchers said the Dutch injection technique was comparable with methods used in capital punishment in the US.

Their research also uncovered instances of severe discomfort and a prolongation of death, with some people taking up to seven days to die after the drugs had been administered.

Anaesthesia. February 20. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/anae.14532

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