UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS IN DEFENSE OF THE DIGNITY OF NATURAL DEATH

  1. In view of the intense pressures being exerted on Spanish public opinion to induce it to consent to the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia, it is necessary to defend the dignity of natural death as the end of every human life.
  1. The life of a human being is inviolable due to its intrinsic dignity, a dignity which can not be subject to gradations since it is universal, independent of the age, health or autonomy situation of an individual; a dignity which is radically linked to the fundamental rights of all human beings.
  1. That dignity, which is inherent to every human life, entails the right of every person to life, a right that cannot be waived. It is the inexcusable duty of the government to protect it and to take care of it, even when the person, its holder, seems not to value it.
  1. In compliance with this duty, the most responsible governments recognize the right of every person to the most advanced health treatments. It is contradictory to accept this and to deliberately promote the ending of the life of those who may arrive at situations of weakness, dependency on others, and/or terminal disease.
  1. A person’s supposed right of “self-determination” to do whatever he/she likes with his/her life is in conflict with the right to life, a right that cannot be waived. To use that right to decriminalize assisted suicide and euthanasia is not justified, it could even endanger the life of persons who hope to survive until their final hour arrives naturally.
  1. Euthanasia (understood as the deliberate act of putting an end to the life of a person because of his/her own petition or because of a third person’s petition), and assisted suicide are ethically and morally reprehensible. However, this does not mean that it is necessary to practice any type of therapeutic obstinacy to extremes that are not be justified by medical practice.
  1. Palliative care, as well as comprehensive attention to the terminally sick, which help the patient in the last period of his/her life, constitute options of assistance compatible with an ethical conception of the dignity of dying.
  1. It is necessary to promote palliative medicine which is accessible to every person, which provides specialized knowledge and the latest breakthroughs in medical and psychological care. It is also necessary to promote emotional and spiritual support adequate to the sick and his/her environment during the terminal phase, the environment, consisting of home, family, and friends, being of great importance.
  1. Health professionals must always respect human life and its evolution towards natural death. The reversal of the value of healing or alleviating as the essential principle of Medicine and its substitution for one of provoking death may open ways with unpredictable limits. Science and Medical Practice increasingly have more and better instruments to act and to discern; it is the right of every person to claim they are used in favor of human life.

 

We call citizens, and especially public authorities, to recognize the dignity of natural death. A society that accepts the ending of the life of some persons because of the precariousness of their health and through the actions of third persons is offending itself by considering the life of some sick or intensely handicapped persons unworthy.

We encourage persons, institutions, media and others to support the present manifesto.

 

Madrid, Sept. 23 2008

 

Signed by:

César Nombela Cano

Full Professor of Microbiology

School of Pharmacy

Complutense University of Madrid

 

Francisco López Timoneda

Full Professor and Chief of Anesthesiology, Reanimation and Pain Therapy

San Carlos University Hospital

Complutense University of Madrid

 

José Miguel Serrano Ruiz-Calderón

Associate Professor of Philosophy of Law

School of Law

Complutense University of Madrid

 

Elena Postigo Solana

Assistant Professor of Bioethics and Philosophic Anthropology

School of Medicine

CEU-San Pablo University of Madrid

 

José Carlos Abellán Salort

Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Law and Bioethics

School of Law and Business Sciences

Francisco de Vitoria University of Madrid

 

Lucía Prensa Sepúlveda

Associate Professor of Anatomy and Human Embryology

School of Medicine

Autonomous University of Madrid