I am so very sad and shocked to hear the fears of the writer making inaccurate statements about using Med- ical Assistance in Dying as budget control.
As a palliative care physician for 25 years, first in the Lower Mainland and then here, I initially had all the same fears as I watched Oregon and Washington states legalize physician assisted suicide (PAS) about 20 years ago. They have been carefully and closely studying the effects of this since then. However, all those fears were not true and reality has been the opposite – the palliative care service is better in those areas where physician assist- ed death has been legalized. This is also the truth in other countries in the world including The Netherlands so I am not sure where the letter writer has heard this misinformation, because there is no evidence of this.
In fact, I think palliative care is better in areas with legalized physician-assisted death because more people are openly talking about death and dying including their wishes. For so many years, dying has been a closeted topic, and the feeling among many health care providers in the past was that if people died, then we as a medical profession have failed.
While we definitely need better training and financial support for palliative care, MAiD is not an excuse for worse palliative care, nor a way to reduce budgets. I also really want people to under- stand that few people choose MAiD as an option as I have also heard fears that as soon as a person will go into an extended care unit, a hospital or a hospice, that they will somehow become victims
of heartless caregivers just wanting to do them in. Nothing could be further from the truth. The people I work with daily are passionate about re- ally caring for all the patients and families of patients com- ing close to the ends of their lives. It is simply important that people be allowed the legal choices that they have. I encourage the readers out there to check for yourselves about the conditions that patients need to meet before they are allowed to have MAiD. Please see http://bit. ly/2mJXQHV
Dr. Barbara Fellhau, Comox