1. I suppose that’s a comforting position to take, but it doesn’t really speak to the nature of suffering, and it doesn’t speak to a patient’s wish to be treated with dignity and to be heard. We talk about ethical principles of beneficence and non-maleficence, that death is deemed the worst possible outcome that should be prevented at all costs. Well, I beg to differ. There are many people for whom death is not the worst thing that could happen to them. In fact, prolonging their dying is the worst thing that could happen to them, and the notion of healing in that environment strikes me as a bit of a one-sided understanding of the relationship.

    — Judith Schwarz on the American Medical Association’s definition of physician-assisted dying as incompatible with the role of the physician as healer

  2. End-of-life Care

    Judith Schwarz

    Fresh Air

  1. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act has been around for 14 years now and the … primary reasons for patients asking their physician for this prescription have remained consistent over all of those years. It’s not about pain; pain can actually be managed … that’s not why people want to hasten their dying. They do [it] because they’re not able to do any of the things that they’ve always enjoyed doing — that give them any kind of pleasure. They can’t do those things anymore. And they have a complete loss of autonomy, they’re dependent upon other people to care for them, and they feel that they’ve lost all dignity. You have to understand, Terry, this doesn’t matter for everybody, but for those people that it does matters to, it matters profoundly. This is really what we really think of … as sort of existential distress — the meaningless of having to just wait for this death to occur.”
- Judith Schwarz on existential distress and medical prescriptions to hasten dying

    The Oregon Death with Dignity Act has been around for 14 years now and the … primary reasons for patients asking their physician for this prescription have remained consistent over all of those years. It’s not about pain; pain can actually be managed … that’s not why people want to hasten their dying. They do [it] because they’re not able to do any of the things that they’ve always enjoyed doing — that give them any kind of pleasure. They can’t do those things anymore. And they have a complete loss of autonomy, they’re dependent upon other people to care for them, and they feel that they’ve lost all dignity. You have to understand, Terry, this doesn’t matter for everybody, but for those people that it does matters to, it matters profoundly. This is really what we really think of … as sort of existential distress — the meaningless of having to just wait for this death to occur.”

    - Judith Schwarz on existential distress and medical prescriptions to hasten dying

  2. End-of-life Care

    Judith Schwarz

    Fresh Air