Qual­ity of life is big­gest fac­tor

Los Angeles Times - - SUNDAY OPINION -

Re “Se­nate OKs as­sisted sui­cide bill,” June 5

Pre­vi­ously, I wrote in a let­ter pub­lished in The Times con­cern­ing the plight of the fam­ily of brain-dead teen Jahi McMath that there are “no an­swers that are go­ing to please ev­ery­body” and that con­cerns over dig­nity and re­spect are para­mount. Hotly de­bated SB128, Cal­i­for­nia’s as­sisted sui­cide bill, presents sim­i­lar bioeth­i­cal is­sues.

Per­mit­ting ter­mi­nally ill pa­tients to end their lives with pre­scrip­tion drugs presents a plethora of moral and eth­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing dis­tin­guish­ing be­tween “sanc­tity of life” and “qual­ity of life.” The no­tion of sanc­tity of life can be viewed as a ba­sic duty to pre­serve life and de­rives from the­olog-ical per­spec­tives. It con­sid­ers preser­va­tion of life as the high­est value.

In con­trast, the no­tion of qual­ity of life ap­plies to cir­cum­stances in which the obli­ga­tion to pre­serve life may no longer ex­ist. In an ef­fort to rec­on­cile these po­si­tions, it is nec­es­sary to con­sider the pa­tient’s pur­pose­ful “mean­ing” and pur­suit of his or her life goals.

An over­rid­ing con­cern, a la Jahi and Brit­tany May­nard, is the con­di­tions un­der which peo­ple live rather than whether they live.

Richard Boudreau, MD Ma­rina del Rey The writer is a bioethi­cist at Loy­ola Mary­mount Univer­sity.

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