Monthly Archives

October 2016

CONSPIRACY THEORY – ACT leader says police euthanasia raids 'politically motivated'

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Stuff 18 October 2016
Family First Comment: Ha ha ha ha! Protecting vulnerable people from people pushing suicide is not ‘politically motivated’, David.
Police raids on a group of elderly suspected to have illegally imported euthanasia drugs have raised questions over political motivation, ACT leader David Seymour says.
Two elderly Wellington woman were the subjects of a police raid earlier this month, and police have confirmed a Lower Hutt woman was arrested and faces two charges of importing a class C.
There are claims that “Operation Painter” was targeted at members of a global group called Exit International.
Euthanasia campaigner and Exit International director Philip Nitschke said the raids were “designed to intimidate and frighten”.
Seymour, who has a members bill in the ballot that would legalise euthanasia – has questioned whether police were acting on the tipoff of someone who was ideologically opposed.
He said it raised “serious questions” about police treatment of a politically sensitive issue.
Elderly women in police euthanasia probe
NZ City 18 October 2016
Police have seized items from the homes of elderly women in Wellington and Nelson which has sparked criticism of political interference from a voluntary euthanasia group.
A shop-bought helium balloon kit was taken from 76-year-old Nelson woman Patsy McGrath, who has long campaigned for euthanasia, on Friday, the Voluntary Euthanasia Society says.
The balloon kit was seized because police believed it was “evidence in respect of a suspected crime: aiding and abetting suicide”.
“Neither NZ police nor NZ #euthanasia society get it – end of life choice is a right, not just a medical privilege!” he said.
ACT Party leader David Seymour has described the police action as gratuitous.
“Surely the police understand there’s a formal political process currently underway around the Voluntary Euthanasia Society’s petition?” he said.
“Even if it’s just one group that’s been targeted, there’s a concerning possibility that other assisted dying campaigners will feel intimidated, with less confidence to campaign publicly.”
Parliament’s health committee is hearing submissions on public attitudes to voluntary euthanasia.
However, Family First’s Bob McCoskrie says police are “absolutely correct” to shut down Exit International’s operations here.
“Nitschke promotes suicide, has left a trail of destruction, and is evidence of just how far some euthanasia advocates will take an assisted suicide law if it was ever introduced,” he said
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Compassion and Choice DENIED [Full Film]

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Compassion and Choice DENIED explores the effects efforts to legalize physician assisted suicide have on those who are living with terminal illness but who do not want “aid in dying.” The film features Stephanie, a wife and mother living with a terminal diagnosis. She has experienced first-hand the dangerous effects of California’s recent legalization of physician assisted suicide.

The dangerously contagious effect of assisted-suicide laws

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Washington Post 20 November 2016
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.

What if it turns out that the individuals who make this choice in fact are influencing the actions of those who follow? Ironically, on the same day that Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide in California last month, an important study was published by British scholars David Jones and David Paton demonstrating that legalizing assisted suicide in other states has led to a rise in overall suicide rates — assisted and unassisted — in those states. The study’s key findings show that, after controlling for demographic and socioeconomic factors and other state-specific issues, physician-assisted suicide is associated with a 6.3 percent increase in total suicide rates. These effects are greater for individuals older than 65 (for whom the associated increase was 14.5 percent). The results should not surprise anyone familiar with the literature on the social contagion effects of suicidal behavior. You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide.
Consider what social scientists call the Werther effect — the fact that publicized cases of suicide can produce clusters of copycat cases, often disproportionately affecting young people, who frequently use the same method as the original case. The name comes from Goethe’s 18th-century novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther,” in which the protagonist, thwarted in his romantic pursuits, takes his own life with a pistol. After the publication of this immensely popular book, authorities in Germany noted a rash of suicides among young men using the same means. This finding has been replicated many times since in rigorous epidemiological studies, including research demonstrating this effect following cases of doctor-assisted suicide.
Because this phenomenon is well validated, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the U.S. surgeon general have published strict journalistic guidelines for reporting on suicides to minimize this effect. It is demoralizing to note that these guidelines were widely ignored in the reporting of recent instances of assisted suicide, with the subject’s decision to end his or her life frequently presented in the media as inspiring and even heroic.

Elderly raided for suicide drugs as police conduct anti-euthanasia operation

By | Recent News

Stuff 17 October 2016
Two elderly Wellington women with suicide drugs have been pounced on by police, who are conducting a national operation thought to be targeting a euthanasia group.
Police have confirmed a Lower Hutt woman was arrested and faces two charges of importing a class C drug as part of an “ongoing investigation”.
It is understood a second elderly woman was also involved in the October 7 raid, part of what police are calling Operation Painter, and that one of the women spent the night in a police cell.
Exit International director Philip Nitschke said police raided several elderly members of his group as part of a world-first clampdown on his organisation.
​”It is ludicrous to try to argue that these raids are in the best interest of the Exit members raided,” he said.
“They are clearly designed to intimidate and frighten, and send a message that the elderly are not to have control over their own death.”
Police have repeatedly refused to say what the drug was, the age of the arrested woman, or when she would appear in court. They have also refused to comment on claims they had got hold of Exit’s membership list and were working their way through it.
Nitschke said the police operation was a “proactive” attack on euthanasia on a scale not seen in any country in which Exit operated, and the Lower Hutt case was the first charge of its kind in New Zealand.
“It is a bit of a series of attacks on Exit. This is quite a unique development.”
He said it appeared a police task force had “infiltrated” Exit, whose members have an average age of 75, as they cracked down on people wanting the option of dying on their own terms.
Pentobarbital, which has the trade name Nembutal and is the euthanasia drug of choice for Exit International, cannot be legally obtained in New Zealand, but can be imported from overseas.
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, it is classified as a class C drug, and the maximum penalty for importation is eight years in jail. That compares with penalties of about 10 years in jail for anyone assisting another in suicide.
Nitschke was not aware of any previous cases of New Zealanders being charged for importing Nembutal. During the past 20 years, only four Australians had been charged.
Each Australian case had resulted in a fine, but no conviction.
Euthanasia advocate Lesley Martin, who served half a 15-month jail sentence for helping her terminally ill mother to die, said Nitschke was a “rogue and a maverick”, who was undermining the campaign to legalise euthanasia.
She claimed Exit operated at the fringes of the law, and said there was a divide between Exit and the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (VES).
“[Exit] just say stuff the law, we will provide the method and means for people to do it themselves …
“It’s just the same old, same old – he’s still not helping the overall situation of legitimising and legalising euthanasia.”
VES spokesman Dave Barber was at pains to distance the society from Exit, but was surprised at the police raids.
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Police Correct To Protect NZ’ers From Dr Death

By | Media Releases

Media Release 17 October 2016
Family First NZ says that the police are absolutely correct to be raiding and shutting down the operations of Philip Nitschke aka Dr Death in New Zealand.

“Nitschke promotes suicide, has left a trail of destruction, and is evidence of just how far some euthanasia advocates will take an assisted suicide law if it was ever introduced. Vulnerable people are being exploited by his agenda and the police need to protect NZ’ers from him. The suicide prevention messages will be completely undermined if he is not stopped,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

In 2014 Nitschke came under fire from two Australian suicide prevention organisations, Beyond Blue and the Black Dog Institute, after his involvement in the suicide of a physically healthy 45-year-old Australian man, Nigel Brayley. Complaints have also been made regarding the suicides of Erin Berg, a 39-year-old mother suffering from post-natal depression who died an agonizing death from euthanasia drugs; Lucas Taylor, a 26-year-old suffering from hidden depression; Gillian Clark, a 47-year-old who was undergoing medical tests; and Joe Waterman, a physically healthy 25-year-old, among others.

The 2015 Victorian state government inquiry into end-of-life choices found that young and physically healthy people were killing themselves using a drug recommended by euthanasia groups – the same drug being recommended in NZ. The majority of those suicides were young people who were physically healthy, but mentally ill.

A Wellington woman ended her life with Nembutal in 2008, after receiving advice on how to obtain it from Dr Nitschke. She was a life-member of EXIT and was suffering from depression, but was physically fit and not suffering a terminal illness. Australian Susan Potts was 89-years-old, fit, physically mobile, and by all accounts living a happy and enjoyable life; unencumbered by the illness and disease that plague many others her age. Nitscke met Susan before she died and admits to assisting her and ‘thousands’ of others to access the drug they need to kill themselves painlessly.

The Medical Board of Australia has imposed 25 strict conditions on Philip Nitschke, known as Doctor Death. The board believes he “presents a serious risk to public health and safety.”
“Nitschke defends the right of someone to take their own life, even when fit and healthy. New Zealanders reject this destructive message and the police are to be congratulated on exposing and removing this risk to vulnerable NZ’ers,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Nitschke’s promotion of euthanasia places large numbers of vulnerable people at risk – in particular those who are depressed, elderly, sick, disabled, those experiencing chronic illness, limited access to good medical care, and those who feel themselves to be under emotional or financial pressure to request early death.”

Dutch may allow assisted suicide for those who feel they have 'completed life'

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The Telegraph 12 October 2016
Family First Comment: No slippery slope? In your dreams!
The Dutch government intends to draft a law that would legalise assisted suicide for people who feel they have “completed life”, but are not necessarily terminally ill, it said on Wednesday.
The Netherlands was the first country to legalise euthanasia, in 2002, but only for patients who were considered to be suffering unbearable pain with no hope of a cure.

In a letter to parliament, the health and justice ministers said details remain to be worked out but that people who “have a well-considered opinion that their life is complete, must, under strict and careful criteria, be allowed to finish that life in a manner dignified for them”.

The proposal is likely to provoke critics who say Dutch euthanasia practice has already expanded beyond the borders originally envisioned for it, with “unbearable suffering” not only applying to people with terminal diseases, but also to some with mental illnesses and dementia.
The euthanasia policy has widespread backing in Dutch society, and cases have risen by double digits every year for more than a decade as more patients request it and more doctors are willing to carry it out. Euthanasia accounted for 5,516 deaths in the Netherlands in 2015, or 3.9 percent of all deaths nationwide.


Euthanasia ‘Slippery Slope’ Confirmed in Netherlands

By | Media Releases

Media Release 13 October 2016
Family First NZ says that the Netherlands has confirmed just how slippery the slope is relating to so-called safeguards around assisted suicide. The Dutch government has just announced that it intends to draft a law that would legalise assisted suicide for people who feel they have “completed life”, but are not necessarily terminally ill.

“Countries which have legalised euthanasia speak about stringent conditions and strict safeguards, but the reality is quite different from the rhetoric. There is a slippery slope, and the Belgium and now the Dutch experience is perfect evidence of this. There are no effective safeguards. The descent down the slippery slope is inevitable,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The Netherlands are simply following the trend in Belgium. A Belgium Senator admitted that during the debate on the passing of child euthanasia laws, euthanasia supporters talked about children with anorexia, mental illnesses, and children who were simply tired of life. Belgium is unable to control or prevent the abuse of the existing law. Now they have expanded it to impact children. A recent documentary in Belgium featured a doctor killing a healthy young woman who was struggling with mental illness.”

Professor Theo Boer was a member of the Dutch Regional Euthanasia Commission for nine years, during which he was involved in reviewing 4,000 cases. He admitted to being a strong supporter of euthanasia and argued that there was no slippery slope. However, by 2014 he had a complete change of mind, regretted that he had made a terrible mistake, and even warned the United Kingdom Medical Council against following the Dutch example.

“To legalise assisted suicide / euthanasia would place large numbers of vulnerable people at risk – in particular those who are depressed, elderly, sick, disabled, those experiencing chronic illness, limited access to good medical care, and those who feel themselves to be under emotional or financial pressure to request early death. Patients will come to feel euthanasia would be ‘the right thing to do’, they have ‘had a good innings’, and they do not want to be a ‘burden’. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is unlikely to go back in again.” says Mr McCoskrie.

“As American lawyer and author Wesley J Smith says, once killing is seen as an appropriate answer in a few cases, the ground quickly gives way, and it becomes the answer in many cases.”

Family First is calling on ACT’s David Seymour to focus on providing a palliative care regime in New Zealand that is fully funded and world class and is a clear alternative to assisted suicide – and not to remove the protection for vulnerable people, including children.

Oregon State Assisted Suicide Reports Substantiate Critics’ Concerns

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Not Dead Yet 4 October 2016
One of the most frequently repeated claims by proponents of assisted suicide laws is that there is “no evidence or data” to support any claim that these laws are subject to abuse, and that there has not been “a single documented case of abuse or misuse” in the 18 reported years. These claims are demonstrably false.
Regarding documented cases, please refer to a compilation of individual cases and source materials pulled together by the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund entitled Oregon and Washington State Abuses and Complications. For an in-depth analysis of several cases by Dr. Herbert Hendin and Dr. Kathleen Foley, please read Physician-Assisted Suicide in Oregon: A Medical Perspective.
The focus of the discussion below is the Oregon Health Division data. These reports are based on forms filed with the state by the physicians who prescribe lethal doses and the pharmacies that dispense the drugs. As the early state reports admitted:
“As best we could determine, all participating physicians complied with the provisions of the Act. . . . Under reporting and noncompliance is thus difficult to assess because of possible repercussions for noncompliant physicians reporting to the division.”
Further emphasizing the serious limits on state oversight under the assisted suicide law, Oregon authorities also issued a release in 2005 clarifying that they have No authority to investigate Death with Dignity case.
Nevertheless, contrary to popular belief and despite these extreme limitations, the Oregon state reports substantiate some of the problems and concerns raised by opponents of assisted suicide bills.
Non-Terminal Disabled Individuals Are Receiving Lethal Prescription In Oregon
The Oregon Health Division assisted suicide reports show that non-terminal people receive lethal prescriptions every year.
The prescribing physicians’ reports to the state include the time between the request for assisted suicide and death for each person. However, the online state reports do not reveal how many people outlived the 180-day prediction. Instead, the reports give that year’s median and range of the number of days between the request for a lethal prescription and death. This is on page 7 of the 2015 annual report. In 2015, at least one person lived 517 days; across all years, the longest reported duration between the request for assisted suicide and death was 1009 days. In every year except the first year, the reported upper range is significantly longer than 180 days.
The definition of “terminal” in the statute only requires that the doctor predict that the person will die within six months. There is no requirement that the doctor consider the likely impact of medical treatment in terms of survival, since people have the right to refuse treatment. Unfortunately, while terminal predictions of some conditions, such as some cancers, are fairly well established, this is far less true six months out, as the bill provides, rather than one or two months before death, and is even less true for other diseases. Add the fact that many conditions will or may become terminal if certain medications or routine treatments are discontinued – e.g. insulin, blood thinners, pacemaker, CPAP – and “terminal” becomes a very murky concept.
The state report’s footnote about “other” conditions found eligible for assisted suicide has grown over the years, to include:
“. . . benign and uncertain neoplasms, other respiratory diseases, diseases of the nervous system (including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease), musculoskeletal and connective tissue diseases, cerebrovascular disease, other vascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, gastrointestinal diseases, and liver disease.”
Overall in 2015, 7%, or 68 individuals, had conditions classified as “other”. In addition, it should be noted that the attending physician who determines terminal status and prescribes lethal drugs is not required to be an expert in the disease condition involved, nor is there any information about physician specialties in the state reports.
The Only Certifiers of Non-Coercion And Capability Need Not Know the Person
Four people are required to certify that the person is not being coerced to sign the assisted suicide request form, and appears capable: the prescribing doctor, second-opinion doctor, and two witnesses.
In most cases, the prescribing doctor is a doctor referred by assisted suicide proponent organizations. (See, M. Golden, Why Assisted Suicide Must Not Be Legalized, section on “Doctor Shopping” and related citations). The Oregon state reports say that the median duration of the physician patient relationship is 12 weeks. Thus, lack of coercion is not usually determined by a physician with a longstanding relationship with the patient. This is significant in light of well-documented elder abuse-identification and reporting problems among professionals in a society where an estimated one in ten elders is abused, mostly by family and caregivers. (Lachs, et al., New England Journal of Medicine, Elder Abuse.)
The witnesses on the request form need not know the person either. One of them may be an heir (which would not be acceptable for witnessing a property will), but neither of them need actually know the person (the form says that if the person is not known to the witness, then the witness can confirm identity by checking the person’s ID).
So neither doctors nor witnesses need know the person well enough to certify that they are not being coerced.
No Evidence of Consent or Self-Administration At Time of Death
In about half the reported cases, the Oregon Health Division reports also state that no health care provider was present at the time of ingestion of the lethal drugs or at the time of death. Footnote six clarifies:
“A procedure revision was made mid‐year in 2010 to standardize reporting on the follow‐up questionnaire.  The new procedure accepts information about time of death and circumstances surrounding death only when the physician or another health care provider is present at the time of death.  This resulted in a larger number of unknowns beginning in 2010.”
While the only specific example mentioned is the “time of death,” other “circumstances surrounding death” include whether the lethal dose was self-administered and consensual at the time of death. Therefore, although “self administration” is touted as one of the key “safeguards”, in about half the cases, there is no evidence of consent or self-administration at the time of ingestion of the lethal drugs. If the drugs were, in some cases, administered by others without consent, no one would know. The request form constitutes a virtual blanket of legal immunity covering all participants in the process.
Pain Is Not the Issue, Unaddressed Disability Concerns Are
The top five reasons doctors give for their patients’ assisted suicide requests are not pain or fear of future pain, but psychological issues that are all-too-familiar to the disability community: “loss of autonomy” (92%), “less able to engage in activities” (90%), “loss of dignity” (79%), “losing control of bodily functions” (48%), and “burden on others” (41%).
These reasons for requesting assisted suicide pertain to disability and indicate that over 90% of the reported individuals, possibly as many as 100%, are disabled.
Three of these reasons (loss of autonomy, loss of dignity, feelings of being a burden) could be addressed by consumer-directed in-home long-term care services, but no disclosures about or provision of such services is required. Some of the reported reasons are clearly psycho-social and could be addressed by disability-competent professional and peer counselors, but this is not required either. Moreover, only 5.3% of patients who request assisted suicide were referred for a psychiatric or psychological evaluation, despite studies showing the prevalence of depression in such patients.
Basically, the law operates as though the reasons don’t matter, and nothing need be done to address them.
The Oregon assisted suicide data demonstrates that people who were not actually terminal received lethal prescriptions in all 18 reported years except the first, and that there is little or no substantive protection against coercion and abuse. Moreover, reasons for requesting assisted suicide that sound like a “cry for help” with disability-related concerns are apparently ignored. Thus, the data substantiates problems with the implementation of assisted suicide laws and validates the concern that the risks of mistake, coercion and abuse are too great. Well-informed legislators on both sides of the aisle should vote against assisted suicide bills.


The Alternative to Physician-Assisted Suicide: Respect Human Dignity and Offer True Compassion

By | Recent News

Heritage Foundation 18 May 2015
Family First Comment: Ryan spoke at our Forum last year. This is a superb article.
Allowing physician-assisted suicide (PAS) would be a grave mistake for four reasons, as explained in a Heritage Foundation Backgrounder, “Always Care, Never Kill.”[1] First, it would endanger the weak and vulnerable. Second, it would corrupt the practice of medicine and the doctor–patient relationship. Third, it would compromise the family and intergenerational commitments. And fourth, it would betray human dignity and equality before the law. Instead of helping people to kill themselves, we should offer them appropriate medical care and human presence.
This Issue Brief focuses on alternatives to physician-assisted suicide. People seeking PAS typically suffer from depression or other mental illnesses, as well as simply from loneliness. We should respond to suffering with true compassion and solidarity. For those in physical pain, pain management and other palliative medicine can manage their symptoms effectively. For those for whom death is imminent, hospice care and fellowship can accompany them in their last days. Anything less falls short of what human dignity requires. The real challenge facing society is to make quality end-of-life care available to all.

Mental Health and Palliative Care: True Compassionate Treatment

Instead of embracing PAS, we should respond to suffering with true compassion. Most people seeking PAS suffer from depression or other mental illnesses, physical illness, or simply loneliness. Dr. Aaron Kheriaty notes:

Suicidal individuals typically do not want to die; they want to escape what they perceive as intolerable suffering. When comfort or relief is offered, in the form of more-adequate treatment for depression, better pain management, or more-comprehensive palliative care, the desire for suicide wanes.

Rather than helping suicidal people to kill themselves, we should offer them treatment and support. For those in physical pain, palliative care and other pain management can manage their symptoms effectively. For those for whom death is imminent, hospice care and fellowship to accompany them in their last days is what a true death with dignity looks like. Victoria Reggie Kennedy has said it best:

My late husband Sen. Edward Kennedy called quality, affordable health care for all the cause of his life. [PAS] turns his vision of health care for all on its head by asking us to endorse patient suicide—not patient care—as our public policy for dealing with pain and the financial burdens of care at the end of life. We’re better than that. We should expand palliative care, pain management, nursing care and hospice, not trade the dignity and life of a human being for the bottom line.

Palliative care focuses on improving a patient’s quality of life by alleviating pain and other distressing symptoms of a serious illness. Palliative care is an option for people of any age at any stage in illness, whether that illness is curable, chronic, or life threatening.
When a patient receives a terminal or life-altering diagnosis, the subsequent life changes are not limited to the medical challenges. Patients encounter the physical trauma of the medical diagnosis while also experiencing psychological difficulties, social changes, and even existential concerns. In Oregon Health Authority research, 91 percent of those who were assisted with suicide cited loss of autonomy as their motivation to end their lives, and 71 percent cited loss of dignity as their motivation. Only 31 percent cited inadequate pain control. These needs require different forms of care. Palliative care seeks to take into consideration every facet of the patient’s situation—with professionals who can attend to all aspects of the patient’s needs.
The most common structure in which patients receive palliative care is in hospice. Hospice care can be provided in patients’ homes, hospice centers, hospitals, long-term care facilities, or wherever a patient resides. By rejecting PAS and committing to palliative care and hospice care, we can better people’s lives at the end of life. As Dr. Leon Kass notes:

We must care for the dying, not make them dead. By accepting mortality yet knowing that we will not kill, doctors can focus on enhancing the lives of those who are dying, with relief of pain and discomfort, moral and social support, and, when appropriate, the removal of technical interventions that are merely useless or degrading additions to the burdens of dying.

Regrettably, palliative care is not as widely available as it should be. The United States has only one palliative care physician for every 1,200 persons living with a serious or life-threatening illness. Even with the aging population, only 63 percent of hospitals report a palliative care program.
In order to increase the availability and understanding of palliative care, medical schools should ensure that students are trained in managing pain and other common distressing symptoms and that they learn how to talk to patients about palliative options at the end of life. As Drs. Hendin and Foley note, when there is a lack of comprehensive support for patients with terminal or life-altering diagnosis, “the focus shifts away from relieving the distress of dying patients considering a hastened death to meeting the statutory requirements for assisted suicide.” This we must resist.

Conclusion: Always to Care, Never to Kill

Doctors should help their patients die a dignified natural death, but doctors should not assist in killing or self-killing. Physicians are always to care, never to kill.
Physician-assisted suicide endangers the weak and marginalized in society. Where PAS has been allowed, safeguards that were put in place to minimize this risk have proved inadequate and over time have been weakened or eliminated altogether.
Introducing PAS changes the culture in which medicine is practiced. It corrupts the profession of medicine by permitting the tools of healing to be used as techniques for killing. It also distorts the doctor–patient relationship by reducing patients’ trust of doctors and doctors’ undivided commitment to the healing of their patients. Physician-assisted suicide also creates perverse incentives for insurance providers and the financing of health care.
Worse yet, PAS negatively affects our entire culture. The temptation to view elderly or disabled family members as burdens will increase, as will the temptation for elderly and disabled family members to view themselves as burdens. Instead of solidarity through civil society and true compassion, PAS creates quick-fix, discriminatory, and lethal solutions.
The most profound injustice of PAS is that it violates human dignity and denies equality before the law. Every human being has intrinsic dignity and is the subject of immeasurable worth. No natural right to PAS exists, and arguments for such a right are incoherent. A legal system that sought to vindicate a right to assisted suicide would jeopardize the real natural right to life for all of its citizens.
For all of these reasons, citizens and policymakers need to resist the push for physician-assisted suicide.
About the Author
Ryan T. Anderson, PhD, is William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center, of the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity, at The Heritage Foundation.

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Patients Rights Action Fund – Videos

By | Recent News

Luke’s Story

You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide.
“Every suicide is tragic – whether you’re old or young, healthy or sick, your life is worth living,” says Luke Maxwell, 19, who survived an attempt to take his own life.
John’s Story: Beyond Independence

Born without arms, John Foppe speaks to a way of life beyond independence, namely inter-dependence: Together we are more. Assisted suicide sells everyone short, so in times of illness or disability, he encourages us to “step into life!”
Dr Brescia

Dr. Brescia is a kidney doctor with decades of experience with treating life-threatening illness. He has developed breakthough technologies that took “terminal” out of thousands of people’s diagnosis. With assisted suicide laws relying heavily on correct diagnosis and prognosis, which are so often wrong, how can we risk a person’s life on a guess?
Man of Steel

JJ’s family moto is “You can’t hurt steel.” When he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most aggresive form of brain cancer, he fights for his wife, his son, and his life.
The Scooter

Because of his illness, Bill had lost his mobility and, therefore, his connection with family and community. Not being able to go to his grandson’s baseball games was more than he could bear. He no longer had the zest for life and requested assisted suicide from his doctor. His doctor, however, had an alternate solution, one that “made him fun again;” and all it took was a scooter….
Jeanette’s Story: 15 Years Later

In 2000, when Oregon resident, Jeanette Hall, had less than a year to live, she asked her cancer doctor for the pills to commit suicide. Dr. Kenneth Stevens got to know her better and inspired her to consider treatment. The tumor just “melted away” and now — 15 years later — Jeanette says: “It’s great to be alive!”
Pulling Back the Curtain on Assisted Suicide

In 2000, when Oregon resident, Jeanette Hall, had less than a year to live, she asked her cancer doctor for the pills to commit suicide. Dr. Kenneth Stevens got to know her better and inspired her to consider treatment. The tumor just “melted away” and now — 15 years later — Jeanette says: “It’s great to be alive!”
The Death Penalty

The same drug being used on death row, is being used in assisted suicide.
And these Barbiturates are not always a peaceful death…They have been termed “cruel and unusual” punishment by the courts for the worst criminals.
Barbiturates are the most common substances used for assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington. Overdoses of barbiturates are known to cause distress and have associated issues: extreme gasping and muscle spasms can occur, while losing consciousness, a person can vomit and then inhale the vomit, panic, feelings of terror, and assaultive behavior take place from the drug-induced confusion, failure of the drugs to induce, unconsciousness, a number of days elapsing before death occurs or death does not occur.
Maggie’s Story

Maggie was diagnosed with brain cancer and strongly opposes assisted suicide. Hear this story of a strong woman with much left to give to her family and society. She has a powerful story of hope and courage – and that no doctor can put a timetable on anyone’s life.

Hope was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a potentially deadly form of brain cancer and told she only had a short time to live…that was 8 years ago. She wants to get married, see her son grow up, and someday see her grandchildren. If assisted suicide were normalized as part of health care, it would have an impact on what thousands like Hope, in seemingly dire circumstances, decide to do. Assisted suicide advocates have romanticized deaths like Brittany Maynard, but there is a different side of the assisted suicide story that particularly impacts those living with a disability, serious illness, without access to top medical care or depression.
As Aaron Keriaty M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Program of Medical Ethics at UC Irvine has noted, “Once we adopt the principle that suicide is acceptable, then the fences erected around it—having six months to live, or having mental capacity, for example—are inevitably arbitrary. These restrictions will eventually be abandoned, as the situation with assisted suicide in Belgium and the Netherlands demonstrates: to cite just a few examples, in Belgium assisted suicide has been granted to a man with ‘untreatable depression’ and to a prisoner suffering ‘psychological anguish’; in the Netherlands, assisted suicide has been granted to a woman because she did not want to live in a nursing home.”
Barbara Wagner

Barbara was sick. She had terminal cancer and was told she had less than six months to live. Instead of providing treatment and doing everything they could to help, her HMO offered something else … they agreed to pay to kill her. Click the short video to hear Barbara’s story.