Euthanasia and Senicide
All relationships in a society are affected when society abandons infirm elderly persons and treats them as expendable. The Eskimo tribes that practiced senicide also were often obliged by the need for good hunters to practice female infanticide; more fortunately situated inland Eskimos, such as the Ihalmiut, who practiced neither, had a sense of their own antiquity, were more socially cohesive, and appear to have led happier lives (Mowat).
Americans are not, nor even with an increase in the elderly population are they likely to be, in the desperate situation of the Shoshone or the Ahnta. Providing the care needed by elderly persons who are seriously or terminally ill will, however, require improving the education of physicians in palliative care, removing regulations that restrict the ways in which physicians can treat pain, widening the availability of hospice care, fostering proper reimbursement for end-of-life care, and passing better-crafted surrogacy laws that, while protecting incompetent patients, also permit proxies to see to it that inappropriate treatments may be withdrawn from them. If all this is done, assisted suicide and euthanasia will not seem a necessary option to elderly patients and the issue of legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia will become less relevant.
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