Update On Assisted Suicide And Euthanasia

Pro-life Healthcare Alliance

The Prolife Healthcare Alliance maintains that assisted suicide and euthanasia are unacceptable in all circumstances. Laws permitting medical killing devalue human life, deny patients the possibility of remission or recovery, and pose threats to patients whose lives are viewed by others as no longer worth living. Furthermore, such laws continually chip away at prohibitions against homicide and suicide as they are expanded to cover more and more classes of people. Also, while medical professionals may not be forced to kill patients themselves, they will be coerced to refer patients to doctors willing to put patients to death.

A stalwart defense of life must be mounted wherever and whenever assisted suicide and/or euthanasia legislation is introduced. We must educate the public about the dangers of such legislation and encourage legislators to reject these anti-life measures. If there is a coalition to resist assisted suicide and euthanasia legislation in your state, join it. If there is not one, form one. "Right to die" activists are wasting no time. We must be prepared to meet them head on and defeat their detestable agenda.

Hawaii: March 23rd, the Hawaii House Health Committee recommended delaying a bill to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia (SB 1129, SD 2) with a vote of 7-0. This means the bill is probably dead for the year--a huge, hard-fought victory! The well-organized effort to defeat the bill rallied the people of Hawaii. Those who showed up to oppose the bill outnumbered proponents by at least 4 to 1. http://www.hawaiiagainstassistedsuicide.org/2017/03/we-won.html

Kansas: A resolution (Res. No. 5010) being debated in the Kansas House and Senate "strongly opposes and condemns physician-assisted suicide" and then states the legislature's reasons: "the legislature has an unqualified interest in the preservation of human life"; "anything less than a prohibition [of assisted suicide] leads to foreseeable abuses and eventually to euthanasia by devaluing human life, particularly the lives of the terminally ill, elderly, disabled and depressed whose lives are of no less value or quality than any other citizen of this state"; "assisted suicide eviscerates efforts to prevent the self-destructive act of suicide and hinders progress in effective physician interventions, including diagnosing and treating depression, managing pain and providing palliative and hospice care"; and "assisted suicide undermines the integrity and ethics of the medical profession, subverts a physician's role as healer and compromises the physician-patient relationship." The PHA encourages everyone, and especially all Kansans, to urge members of the Kansas Legislature to support Resolution No. 5010.

Oregon: Two decades ago, Oregon was the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide (PAS). Since then, Washington, Vermont, California, Colorado and Washington, DC have followed suit and, currently, many states have PAS bills on their dockets. And now, "right to die" activists in Oregon are set to lead the way to legal acceptance of active euthanasia. Legislators in Oregon have introduced Senate Bill 893. Section 3 of this bill reads:
An expressly identified agent may collect medications dispensed under [Oregon's Death with Dignity Act] and administer the medications to the patient in the manner prescribed by the attending physician if:
1. The patient lawfully executed an advance directive in the manner provided by [Oregon's Death with Dignity Act];
2. The patient's advance directive designates the expressly identified agent as the person who is authorized to perform the actions described in this section;
3. The patient's advance directive includes an instruction that, if the patient ceases to be capable after medication has been prescribed pursuant to [Oregon's Death with Dignity Act], the expressly identified agent is authorized to collect and to administer to the patient the prescribed medication;
4. The medication was prescribed pursuant to ORS [Oregon's Death with Dignity Act; and
5. The patient ceases to be capable.

Other U.S. States: Excerpts from the March 16th report by Barbara L. Lyons, Director of Patients Rights Action Fund Coalitions:
From the people on the ground in New Mexico yesterday: "Amazing! Bill died in senate tonight 22-20!" This was one of the hardest fights in the country and the bill is now dead. Kudos to New Mexico opponents.
The Maryland Senate bill was withdrawn, making it dead for the session. However, the House bill remains and is being monitored. Congratulations to the coalition for an outstanding job in a Compassion and Choices priority state.
Bills are now dead in Mississippi, Utah, Tennessee and Wyoming.
States to watch this spring: Hawaii (in dire condition) and Nevada (fight just beginning).
Other states to watch throughout the year: New York, New Jersey, and Maine.

Canada: In 2016, Canada approved a "Medical Aid in Dying" law that permits both assisted suicide and euthanasia. The National Post now reports that some physicians who originally agreed to participate have withdrawn their names from the "voluntary referral list of physician's willing to help people die." In Ontario, according to this report, 24 doctors have asked to be permanently removed from the list and 30 are on temporary hold. "Some doctors who have helped the gravely ill end their lives are no longer willing to participate in assisted death because of emotional distress or fear of prosecution if their decisions are second-guessed, ..." http://news.nationalpost.com/news/0227-na-euthanasia

Alex Schadenberg, director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said, "It's counter-intuitive to the human person to kill someone." He predicts "there will only be a few doctors in Ontario doing this euthanasia, or in Canada doing it, and all the other doctors will be forced to refer patients to them. And it doesn't take a lot of doctors to kill people."

New Zealand: In June 2015, New Zealand's High Court denied a terminally ill woman's request for a doctor's help to end her life. The court ruled there was no such right under existing law. Subsequently, Labour MP Maryan Street and the Voluntary Euthanasia Society presented a petition to parliament to legalize doctor-assisted suicide. In response, the New Zealand government's Health Select Committee launched an inquiry. Mercatornet recently published a report regarding the amazing number of submissions--21,435--from citizens in response to this government inquiry on assisted suicide and euthanasia. The vast majority of respondents voiced strong opposition to the legalization of medical killing. Dr. Jane Silloway Smith, the Auckland-based Director of Every Life Research Unit, analyzed the submissions and found, "The most commonly cited reasons for opposing euthanasia were:
1. That it is important that the law protects human life
2. The dangers legalised euthanasia pose to vulnerable people
3. That modern palliative care can address pain and suffering
4. The dangers legalised euthanasia would pose to the elderly, in particular
5. That it is important that we live in a society that gives care and support to those who are suffering
6. The mixed messages that legalising euthanasia would send about suicide being a solution to suffering"
Dr. Silloway concluded, "The petitioners asked, the Committee sought submissions, and the public has spoken: 3 out of 4 Kiwis say no to euthanasia." [Emphasis added.]

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