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LETTER OF THE DAY - Make euthanasia legal in Jamaica

Published:Saturday | April 28, 2012 | 12:00 AM


Euthanasia is a health-care option that should be open to critically ill patients who want to end their suffering. The only question is: At what point is it permissible for such medical intervention?

It is my opinion that such decision should be left to the patient. It is also my viewpoint that this medical procedure to be employed by a medical practitioner be compared to a woman's decision to have an abortion.

The medical practitioner, with the consent of the critically ill patient, ought to have the right may expedite his or her demise.

On my last visit to see my health-care provider, I asked her for permission to include this provision in the 'Advance Directive' already existing in the medical records. The 'Advance Directive' stated my wish to be denied any form of 'extraordinary' medical intervention to prolong my life, and furthermore that it is my wish to have medical assistance to hasten my demise and avoid unnecessary suffering.

Judging from her body language, I don't think my request will be honoured. Furthermore, such assistance may not be legally permitted in Jamaica.

However, physician-assisted suicide, made popular by the late pathologist, Dr Jacob (Jack) Kevorkian of Royal Oak Township in Michigan, is legal in many European countries.

In the United States, there are approximately six states where euthanasia is legal: Oregon, Washington, North Carolina, Utah, Wyoming and Virginia.

Put before Parliament

Euthanasia is perhaps not done here in Jamaica, but it is an issue that should be addressed in Gordon House, because of the increasing number of patients suffering unnecessarily from fatal neurodegenerative disease, spinal stenosis, and various forms of Stage Three cancer. Many will be willing to avail themselves to euthanasia.

Legalising euthanasia will undoubtedly face opposition from the Church, and some legal experts see it as "a recipe for the abuse of the elderly and a threat to individual patient rights".


Springfield, St Elizabeth