End-of-Life Activist: Doctors Shouldn’t Help Patients Die

Publish Date:: 
Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - 3:30pm

A physician at the forefront of palliative care has taken a strong stand against the “right to die.”


Dr. Ira Byock, Professor of Medicine and Community & Family Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, asserts that physician-assisted suicide is wrong both morally and socially.


He agrees with supporters of the Death with Dignity movement who say that dying in America isn’t easy. Often, terminally ill patients suffer through their last days in tremendous physical pain.


But Byock argues that legalizing assisted suicide does nothing to fix the real problem with healthcare in America: not enough doctors or nurses are trained in hospice and palliative skills.


Byock says it’s becoming easier to qualify for assisted suicide than it is to get into hospice care. This sends a message that it makes more sense to kill people than it is to give them the tools to be able to manage the end of their life.

And that, he says, is “a socially erosive response to a basic human need.”

Byock also worries that legalizing aid in dying could take our country down a slippery slope to euthanasia for patients with manageable illnesses. Or worse, doctors are the ones who ultimately decide which lives are worth living.


Instead of advocating for death, Ira Byock believes that physicians should receive more training in how to help patients at the end of life — and that hospice care should be made more accessible to all.


Dr. Ira Byock will be the keynote at the Best Care Possible: Clinical and Cultural Leadership in the 21st Century workshop on June 16, 2016. The activity will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at CSUMB Salinas City Center. This activity is for Clinicians & Faith Leaders. For more information, visit https://hgfbyock.eventbrite.com.


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