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What a mindless comment. Flegel and Hébert’s editorial directs that “As physicians, we should … avoid further polarization of this important debate with our own values and ideologies.”1 Flegel and Hébert don’t seem to realize that they have just injected their own values into the debate by insisting that, in their personal opinion, only impersonal values have merit! Of course, this is central to the very issue being discussed; whether a specific value happens to be one’s own is clearly separate from its relative merit.
Most of us share the authors’ desire for honest dialogue, education and engagement. However, trying to muzzle physicians from anything beyond the physiology and basic science of dying, as the authors seem to imply, is an affront to the whole of medicine. Clinical care benefits from continual investigation, testing and discussion by physicians across the whole range of human experience. Those who spout paternalistic injunctions against personal values and ideologies artificially close discussion and polarize with values and ideologies all their own.
For the full letter, go to: www.cmaj.ca/cgi/eletters/182/9/877#574006