Pledge for life sought

By 
  • January 6, 2009
{mosimage}The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Physicians for Compassionate Care (PCC) in Oregon have teamed up to create an online campaign to allow people — physicians especially — to pledge their ethical regard for life.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition in Canada , said the pledge is not intended to bind anyone to a set of principles, but offer them encouragement and support for their ethical choices.

“It’s a way for people to say ‘whatever faces me I’m not going to back down,’ ” he said.

The “Take the Pledge” campaign, at www.take-the-pledge.com , is a simple page with three short statements to which viewers can agree to by clicking on “yes” and submitting. They can request a formal hard copy of the pledge to display visibly in the home or in the workplace — “something they will be proud to put up,” Schadenberg added.

The pledges are:

  • I will treat the sick according to my best ability and judgment, always striving to do no harm. Whenever I care for a terminally ill patient, I will provide optimal comfort care until natural death.
  • I will also support my patients’ wishes not to prolong the dying process with futile treatment. I will never give a deadly drug to anyone even if asked, nor will I suggest suicide.
  • I will always affirm and guard these ethical principles with integrity, recognizing that every human life is inherently valuable.

The pledge, launched this fall, will soon be translated into French, Spanish and German. Schadenberg said that if enough people take the pledge, the PCC might consider creating a network of physicians to refer interested patients to — for people wanting to see a doctor who practises similar ethics.

“The PCC exists so (physicians) can support each other and have their rights protected,” he said. “In Ontario, like in Oregon, internally there are situations where physicians are feeling pressured.”

He said doctors need to make a conscious decision to say “this is wrong” when faced with the option of terminating a patient’s life.

The PCC is an association of physicians and health professionals who promote the physician’s task as one to “to heal when possible, comfort always and never intentionally harm,” according to its web site.   

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