NO ON PROPOSITION 106 (2nd week)

NO ON PROPOSITION 106 (2nd week)


For the next couple of weeks I would like to print the words of our fellow parishioner, Dr. Michael Napierkowski, M.D. FACS talk that he gave a couple of weekends ago regarding voting NO on Proposition 106.

Soon, we will once more be given the opportunity to vote, to make our voices heard regarding the future of our nation and our state and local communities. I urge you in the strongest possible terms, when that time comes, to oppose Proposition 106, the ballot measure which would legalize physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia in Colorado.

As a physician who has spent the last 26 years of my life learning and applying the knowledge and skills necessary to cure illness and to alleviate pain and distress and who treats patients with incurable cancer regularly, I implore you not to confound the notion of eliminating suffering with that of eliminating those who suffer. We must not allow the culture of death to be given a greater foothold in our state.


2.- Legal safeguards will not prevent the invariable abuse of such a law, as family members or those otherwise emotionally or financially invested in a patient’s illness, suffering, and demise, (including members of the care team) will undoubtedly exercise undue influence in the decision process. Despite an odd confidence to the contrary expressed by many of those who advocate for laws such as these, doctors and medical professionals are hardly objective arbiters of knowledge and facts regarding the fate and prognosis of a patient with any given diagnosis. Any honest physician will acknowledge having been not just wrong, but horribly wrong about any number of cases of patients who were expected to die but did not, or never to recover but did.

Furthermore, sociology has demonstrated that medical professionals are far more fearful of death, dying, and suffering than laymen, so their input the assessment of such patients should never be misunderstood as objective, rational, or removed from all emotional entanglement. To the degree that laws such as these rely on the opinion of “medical professionals,” as so on, therefore, we can be sure that mistakes will be made with regularity. BUT—once death has been prescribed and administered, the cure or antidote will never be forthcoming.

3.-  Assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, death is not the only avenue of relief for those who are suffering. Numerous dedicated professionals commit themselves full-time to the art of alleviating the pain and disability of chronic conditions and terminal illnesses alike. A legal commitment to and advocacy for being rid of the infirm and dying will not only disregard the viability of these other, reasonable options, but will invariably undermine the efforts of those who seek to investigate, provide, and perfect these treatments. In other words, once assisted suicide has been established as our culture’s preferred or admired way of addressing suffering, even those who choose other approaches will be left with fewer and lesser options.