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Posted Thu Jul 26th, 2012 8:55am Post subject: Suffering

I’ve been nursing for more than 30 years and for over a decade have worked in palliative care. Throughout my career there have been encounters with health professionals whose religious beliefs clearly affect their attitude to medical intervention and symptom relief. This has been apparent across many healthcare genres, from obstetrics and neonatology to disability and aged care.

It seems that the belief in a creator or supernatural force who is responsible for the giving and taking of life, and also the belief that suffering can be a positive experience, influence whether the staff member is motivated to consider the patient’s quality of life, or contrastingly promote ‘life at any cost’.

Doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and politicians (for example the Australian politician Kevin Andrews and his Medical Treatment Act 1988. Please refer to discussion in this link: ) who are under the influence of a religious doctrine have surely contributed to many people living lives fraught with pain, or existing at a level incompatible with their ability to enjoy life.

It is distressing when a death-denying philosophy results in individuals being subjected to unnecessary treatment, or sub-optimal palliative care is imposed due to doctors and nurses who are tentative in administering appropriate medications. Empirically there seems a predominance of roman catholics involved in palliative care.

Countless people throughout the world are undoubtingly suffering due to the influence of religious doctrines.

Is it possible that this topic could be considered for public debate?

Thank you.

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Posted Mon Nov 19th, 2012 7:35am Post subject: Suffering

Hello Joede
Thank you for a most interesting comment. I, too, have wondered why an experience we must all endure at some point, and hopefully later rather than sooner, is almost forced to be a sad and distressing one, and perhaps very painful, due primarily to the religious-based views of death and dying and, of course, the non-empirically supported afterlife. What a shame that we cannot begin a debate on the issue that will force others to give individuals a little more freedom to choose their own ending. I fear that will not come until religion is toppled from its summit. The cracks are there, and being chipped away at by atheists of all descriptions, but such a widespread and ubiquitous notion will not go easily into that dark night.

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