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Minorities, the Poor and Assisted Suicide

Minorities, the Poor and Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia

Assisted suicide supporters claim it would offer a choice to people who want it. But it would actually victimize minorities and poor people. As disability rights activist Diane Coleman has observed, assisted suicide is primarily promoted by those who are “white, well-off, worried and well.”

“Choice” is an appealing word, but inequity in health care is a harsh reality. Consider the following:

* African-American patients with a broken arm or leg are less likely to be given pain medication in emergency rooms than white patients with similar injuries and complaints of pain, according to a new study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. [Reuters 12/28/99]

* African-Americans with symptoms of heart trouble are only about half as likely to be referred for the best testing and treatment as are their white counterparts. [Times-Dispatch 3/31/99; NEJM 2/25/99 ]

* African-American cancer patients in nursing homes are severely undertreated for pain – some don’t even get aspirin. [NY Times 6/17/98; JAMA 6/17/98]

* Black and poor Medicare patients are more likely than others to be discharged from hospitals in unstable condition. [Contra Costa Times 4/20/94; JAMA 4/20/94]

* African-American women receive less breast cancer screening than their counterparts of other races. [Annals of Internal Medicine 8/1/98]

* Despite equal Medicare coverage, affluent elderly white patients often receive better medical care than African-Americans or poor people of all races. [NEJM 9/12/96]

* Outpatients with cancer who went to clinics that served minority patients were 3 times more likely to be under-medicated for pain than were patients in other settings. [Annals of Internal Medicine 11/1/97]

* African-American academics who study bioethical issues have expressed concern that permitting assisted suicide, along with new limits on health care, presents new opportunities to victimize minorities: “People know they don’t get the health care they need while they’re living. So what makes them think anything’s going to be more sensitive when they’re dying.” [Detroit Free Press 2/26/97] .

* African-Americans make up 35% of reported AIDS cases, but nearly one-half of all AIDS deaths. [Los Angeles Times 10/10/99]

* Psychiatric clinicians spend less time with African-American patients than with patients of other races. [San Francisco Chronicle 5/30/96]

* African-American women die from treatable illnesses (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, etc.) at twice the rate of white women and African-American men die at a rate almost three times greater than white men.

Free Essay on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide – Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa’s Little Sisters and Euthanasia In this essay we see Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s Little Sisters of the Poor responding to the Europena Parliament’s pro-euthanasia measure. In their response is found an insight into death which the Western world lacks. The Little Sisters are knowledgeable from personal experience with the many whom they have seen die. They are also firmly rooted in a strong religious tradition. Both of these considerations make their advice the very best one can hear in the euthanasia debate. “How can the Little Sisters of the Poor, in the service of the elderly, not be concerned about the passing of the principle of euthanasia by a Commission in the European Parliament? We feel that the confusion caused by the text pertaining to the use of extraordinary means to prolong life, palliative care and euthanasia can easily mislead an uninformed public. Yet behind these extremely complicated phrases, the thought is clear: to give doctors the right to satisfy the request for euthanasia, that is to say, to take a person’s life. Human dignity does not consist in being able to choose the time of one’s death, but in being aware of the fact that one’s basic right is the right of respect for life, of respect for human dignity”(Little) The Little Sisters have 150 years of experience in accompanying the elderly up until the end of their lives, and by this experience they are authorized to make known to the public what they have seen and learned. Since their foundation, 17,080 Little Sisters have lived with the dying, and today they are in 30 countries on six continents, with 74 homes in France and Belgium, First World nations. So the dear sisters have expertise with the dying of both the Third World and our world. Making the elderly happy, that is what counts!” Mother Teresa used to say, encouraging the Little Sisters to attain this goal by employing means adapted to each person, to his/her possibilities, tastes, past life, health, etc. Making the elderly happy means believing in the value of their life, and the Little Sisters are witnesses of the extraordinary resources of the elderly. Having a center of interest, doing something they like to do, feeling useful, being able to take initiatives, to communicate, to form friendships, maintaining a facilitated relationship with the family, having contacts with youth: these are factors which provide joy and happiness.

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