In Belgium, Catherine Dopchie, oncologist and practising catholic, focuses on the reasons that led her to refuse to practise euthanasia.
Confronted with the mystery of suffering and death she felt motivated “to let go to make room for something bigger than me”. She explains that, if a doctor listens to patients and shares their emotions, that does not mean that he/she “has the answer to everything”. And “just because you haven’t got the answer to everything, that doesn’t mean you are not listening to the plea”.
Euthanasia has become “compassionate homicide”, continues Catherine Dopchie. In fact, “Compassion, by definition, makes me suffer. To kill my brother in the name of euthanasia is tantamount to considering him my enemy, the person who upsets me because of the suffering he generates in me by taking me to the limit. Euthanasia is not only a ‘serious procedure that triggers physical death’ (Corinne Van Oost), but a procedure that kills someone who is suffering”. The practice of euthanasia leads to the transgression of a fundamental ban: “Thou shalt not kill”. More than the patient, this procedure “will gradually kill the carer and the human being [that he/she is]”.
The doctor also broaches the question of sedation. She draws a distinction between temporary sedation and deep, continuous sedation. She explains that sedation must be well prepared “because this practice is difficult for carers and relatives alike. Prolonged, survival becomes synonymous with agony”. “The body must use every ounce of its strength” to respect “the person and the body”. “To succumb to this temptation to hurry death is disguised, illegal euthanasia – hypocrisy that has nothing to do with sedation”.
She concludes by explaining that, “being by the patient’s bedside without causing his/her death, we cannot force him/her to live. He/she is alive, quite simply, and calls us to be humble at his/her side: doctor and fellow-man with skills and limitations”.
“Oncologist, trained in Palliative Care (PC) in Lille, pioneer of the development of palliative care in Western Hainaut, responsible for a 6-bed PC hospital unit”.
La Libre (04/01/2016)