According to a recent study, a large majority of doctors and other health workers who care for the terminally ill oppose all active forms of euthanasia. In a timely survey, The Human Life Research Institute (H.L.R.I.) determined that 74 per cent of those health care professionals who responded to their questionnaire felt that any direct action undertaken to terminate a patient’s life was unethical.

This study confirmed what many had long suspected – that those who work closest to the terminally ill are the ones most vigorously opposed to active euthanasia. The majority of those in favor of its legalization likely have no experience with the pain control of terminally ill patients.

Subsequent study showed that 49 per cent of the workers also felt that legalized euthanasia would diminish the trust that patients have for their doctors and nurses. Moreover, 90 per cent said that if euthanasia were ever legalized, health care professionals should have the right to refuse to take part in the practice.

These and other revealing results were published in a new report by H.L.R.I. called Public Policy, Private Voices: The Euthanasia Debate. Included with the results were several strong recommendations. Among the most notable are:

•    existing laws against euthanasia should be maintained
•    medical professionals should promote greater public awareness that pain can be controlled in almost all terminally ill patients
•    the government should support research into the field of pain control
•    physicians should be educated in the most modern methods of pain control

Health care professionals are the ones who are the closest to the day-to-day suffering of terminally ill patients. Many feel that it is time that their experienced voice should be heard in this volatile euthanasia debate.