A tale of two cities

There are two different societies, inhabited by two very different types of medical professionals, that emerge in the euthanasia debate.

The first is one where medical professionals look at the state of palliative care, which they describe as “underfunded from the start” and concede that access to, and quality of palliative care are “patchy.” 

They look at the state of aged care in the country, and acknowledge that “while their staff do an amazing job, they are overworked and often poorly trained in palliative care for the dying.”

But instead of advocating for more funding and better access to and quality of palliative care, they accept the status quo as unchangeable.  Instead of advocating for more assistance for and training of those working in aged care homes, they want to relieve these overworked staffers by offering lethal drugs to some of those in their care.

The second type of society is one where palliative medicine specialists advocate for every person to have access to palliative care, and for their care needs to be fully met regardless of where they lived.  It is a society where “compassion” is defined as a “whole-of-society response” that supports each person to live as well as possible in the face of death.

It is one where palliative medicine specialists reject the claim that euthanasia should be legalised as a solution to “inadequacy and inequity of palliative care and inadequate aged residential care staffing”; which sees the offer of premature death in response to poor funding as “callous and unacceptable,” rather than compassionate; which just wants the resources to provide the right care and medicine to their patients.

If euthanasia is legalised, the first of these societies will begin to take hold.  If it is rejected, the latter will be the one that prevails.

At the end of your life, or at the end of the life of a loved one, which society would you prefer to live in?