Category Archives: Doctor-Prescribed Suicide

Momentum Shift Against Doctor-Prescribed Suicide

Not Dead Yet

Source: Washington Examiner 

By: J.J. Hanson

Momentum is finally shifting against the legalization and expansion of assisted suicide. Twenty-three states have rejected bills attempting to legalize assisted suicide since the beginning of 2017, and these bills are now considered dead for the remainder of the year.

Why such unusual bipartisan consensus? In our profit-driven healthcare system, where care is expensive and assisted suicide is cheap, patients with terminal illnesses, people with disabilities, the elderly, and the poor are in grave danger of being pushed towards a death-too-soon. Assisted suicide policy injects government bodies and insurance companies with financial incentives into every single person’s end of life decisions.

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The Oklahoman: Bipartisan Opposition to Assisted Suicide Emerges


Source: The Oklahoman

THE issue of assisted suicide is slowly becoming a cause du jour among some political activists, but it continues to face strong — and often bipartisan — resistance. That’s comforting indication that some issues transcend partisan divisions, and that lawmakers can still view issues through a lens other than party loyalty.

The latest example comes from New Mexico, where assisted suicide legislation was advanced this year. One bill passed out of committee but was defeated by a 22-20 vote on the Senate floor. Those voting in opposition included seven Democrats and 15 Republicans.

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Washington Post: The Dangerously Contagious Effect of Assisted Suicide Laws


Source: Washington Post

By Aaron Kheriaty November 20

Aaron Kheriaty is an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the medical ethics program at the University of California at Irvine School of Medicine. This piece is adapted from a longer commentary that appeared in the Southern Medical Journal in October.

The debate over doctor-assisted suicide is often framed as an issue of personal autonomy and privacy. Proponents argue that assisted suicide should be legalized because it affects only those individuals who — assuming they are of sound mind — are making a rational and deliberate choice to end their lives. But presenting the issue in this way ignores the wider social consequences.

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Orange County Register: California Assisted Suicide Bill Opens Door to Abuse

Woman with arms raised celebrates her achievement and success in the sunshine even with her disabilities in a wheelchair.

Source: The Orange County Register

By: Joseph Perkins

The (California) state Senate last week approved the so-called End of Life Act, which would allow the terminally ill to obtain lethal medications with a doctor’s prescription.

The death-on-demand law is co-authored by Sens. Lois Wolk and Bill Monning, with the tacit blessing of the California Medical Association, which previously opposed physician-assisted suicide, but now is officially “neutral” on the issue.

Wolk insists that the End of Life Act “is a compassionate addition to the existing continuum of care that may be used by modern medicine at the end of life.” Monning maintains that the legislation will allow those with terminal diseases “the autonomy to approach death on their own terms.”

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Andrew D. Sumner: Physician-assisted suicide wrong, dangerous for society

Stock Photo

Source: The Morning Call

April 24, 2015

By Andrew D. Sumner

Senate Bill 549 to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Pennsylvania has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

As a cardiologist, I read the bill with great concern. I have cared for terminally ill patients and seen the great courage, dignity and grace with which patients have successfully faced sickness and death. If passed, SB 549 to legalize physician-assisted suicide will be a great danger to physicians, to patients and to society.

Legalizing physician-assisted suicide is dangerous for physicians. Giving doctors the power to deliberately end the lives of their patients will inevitably redefine the nature of the doctor-patient relationship and will destroy essential trust and confidence.

Physician-assisted suicide is the easy option for a busy, stressed or frustrated physician. It also gives too much power to the physician. He or she would become judge, jury and assistant executioner. A physician could convince a patient that this is a reasonable step in just the way they describe their diagnosis and prognosis.

The American Medical Association in its code of ethics highlights the dangers of physician-assisted suicide: “Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as a healer, would be difficult to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”

Physician-assisted suicide is also dangerous for patients. The “right to die” will become the “duty to die” for senior citizens. Not wanting to be a burden, the elderly will take their own lives. Most people commit suicide due to depression. Depression is extremely common but treatable in the terminally ill.

Despite these facts, no independent mental evaluation is required prior to physician-assisted suicide. Most alarming is that in an economically challenged health care system, the cheapest form of health care for any end-stage illness is a handful of lethal medications.

Finally, physician-assisted suicide is dangerous for society. It creates a slippery slope.

In Europe, countries have slid from physician-assisted suicide to voluntary euthanasia, to nonvoluntary euthanasia and then to involuntary euthanasia. The “right” to die was given to the terminally ill, then to the chronically ill, the disabled, and finally to those not ill at all.

So-called safeguards do not in reality work. The Pennsylvania bill mandates that a consultant review the recommendation of the attending physician. This safeguard offers little protection because studies show that physicians only get a second opinion from other physicians who they know will endorse their decision about physician-assisted suicide.

Legalizing physician-assisted suicide would not give patients the right to die but would give physicians the right to kill.

A better alternative is to train more palliative-care physicians, insure adequate pain and symptom control at the end of life, encourage better identification and treatment of depression, promote hospice, and mobilize faith communities and others to provide emotional support to struggling patients and families.

H.L. Mencken summed it up, “There is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.”

Legalizing physician-assisted suicide is wrong. The evidence is clear. It is just too dangerous.

Andrew D. Sumner is a cardiologist who lives in Upper Saucon Township.
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