for Physicians Opposing Senate Bill 128,
now before the California Assembly,
To Legalize Physician-Assisted Suicide
Whereas, Senate Bill 128, now before the Assembly of the State of California:
- Forces Doctors to Violate Their Hippocratic Oath: The universal ethical standard established by Hippocrates states "I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel... with purity and holiness I will pass my life and practice my art." Senate Bill 128 licenses physicians to directly violate the Oath held sacred to the practice of medicine by providing a platform for their being aides in dying.
- Discriminates Against the Medical Professional: It violates the freedom of a physician’s conscience and the freedom of the physician to practice medicine in a moral and ethical manner as set forth in the Hippocratic Oath. For over two millennia the medical ethic, mindful that the power to cure is also a power to kill, has held as an inviolable rule, “Doctors must not kill.” This core tenet as well as other tenets of the oath represent long-standing ethical traditions foundational to promoting the science and art of medicine and the betterment of public health overall.
- Distorts the Fundamental Principles of Healing: Supporting the legalization of physician assisted suicide subverts what is the heart of medicine, namely, healing. Doctors cannot heal by assisting patients in killing themselves or by killing them. It is right to seek to eliminate disease and alleviate pain and suffering; it is not right to seek to eliminate the patient or fulfill such desires of consumer-patients. The practice of medicine is not a morally neutral act of mere technical skill and Physician Assisted Suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as a healer. Mandating doctors to assist in killing threatens to fundamentally corrupt the defining goal of the profession of medicine and perverts the medical profession by transforming the healer of human beings into a dispenser of death.
- Undermines the Doctor-Patient Relationship of Trust: It threatens to fundamentally distort and collapse the doctor-patient relationship, greatly reducing the patient’s trust of their doctor and the doctor’s undivided commitment to the healing of their patient. The foundation of trust is considered vital to the therapeutic process and the physician’s ability to provide optimal treatment recommendations. Trust placed by the patient in their physician will be seriously breached if the patient fears their physician might encourage, and actively facilitate, their death. The ever-present question now thrust upon an already distraught patient becomes “Is my doctor comfortable with causing my imminent death? Can I trust my doctor to want me to live?”
- Is Morally Deceptive and Devoid of Ethics: This bill presents as a new medical practice what until the present day has always been considered murder. In deciding that a treatment is useless, physicians must not be coerced into deciding or implying that a patient is worthless. This bill promotes a shameless lack of honesty by obliging the physicians to falsify the Death Certificate of a patient. Section 443.7(B) states that the “cause of death listed on an individual’s death certificate who uses aid-in-dying medication shall be the underlying terminal illness” instead of the immediate cause which was the consumption of lethal medication. This means physicians are being asked to state an untruth and literally lie on an official medical document.
Whereas, I, a physician in good standing within the Medical Community, and a medical professional that upholds and reaffirms the Oath of Hippocrates, do state and affirm that physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as a healer to provide for their patients appropriate medical care and well-being.
Whereas, Senate Bill 128 will facilitate a new era in which patients will not be safe from having their “right to die” exercised for them, thus endangering the weak and vulnerable, corrupting the practice of medicine and altering the sacred doctor–patient relationship. It would compromise the family and intergenerational commitments as well as betray human dignity and equality before the law.
Therefore, the undersigned, in solicitude for my sacred profession, that of my colleagues’, and the welfare of all patients, respectfully urges the California State Legislature to reject and abandon consideration of California Senate Bill 128.