Declare Total Non-Cooperation With Assisted Suicide

The article was published by First Things on April 29, 2016.

By Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

I recently gave a speech to a group of conservative senior citizens in California, arguing against assisted suicide, which is due to become legal there in June. Assisted suicide is not an issue that allows for fence-sitting, so although I expected (and received) a friendly reception for the most part, I knew that at least a few people would use the Q & A to tell me that I was full of beans.

Sure enough. “You have made a cogent and reasoned presentation, Mr. Smith,” one of the first questioners told me, his voice rising in anger as he spoke. “But if I want to die, I want to be able to die, and I don’t want my family or me stigmatized by people saying I committed suicide!” In other words, nothing that I said mattered. The man was set in his opinion, and neither the facts about euthanasia practice nor the need for accurate terminology regarding self-killing would change that.

And so it went. Those who agreed with me—the majority of this particular audience—spoke of how their vulnerable loved ones would be endangered by the law, while the law’s supporters mostly made angry assertions about their right to die. Dialogue? What’s dialogue?

Link to the full article

Assisted Suicide bills are being defeated in America

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In 2016, assisted suicide bills initiatives have already been defeated in Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey and Utah. There have been several groups that have been effectively working to defeat these bills, including state groups opposing assisted suicide, medical associations, local and national disability rights groups including Not Dead Yet and DREDF and groups such as the Patients Rights Action Fund. 

Many caring people gave testimony before State legislative committees concerning the dangers of legalizing assisted suicide.

According to the Patients Rights Action Fund:

  • The Arizona assisted suicide bill was defeated in the Senate's Health and Human Services Committee.
  • The Colorado assisted suicide bill failed in the Senate Committee and the Colorado Assembly didn't take up the bill because it lacked support. Also the Colorado Title Board decided not to advance a ballot measure that to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.
  • The Hawaii assisted suicide bill was not heard by the Senate committee.
  • The Iowa assisted suicide bill was stopped in the Senate sub-committee.
  • The Maryland assisted suicide bill was withdrawn after the sponsor recognized that the bill was going to be defeated.
  • The Nebraska assisted suicide bill was defeated after a tie vote in Committee.
  • The New Jersey assisted suicide bill was withdrawn when the sponsor realized that the bill did not have enough support.
  • The Utah assisted suicide bill was sent back to the rules committee.

The assisted suicide bills in New York and the District of Columbia are the remaining threats.

The California legislator passed the assisted suicide bill by subverting the legislative process in a 'Special Extraordinary Session.' Since the Extraordinary Session has not closed, therefore the California assisted suicide bill is not in effect. Further to that, based on California law, the assisted suicide law will go into effect 90 days after the closing of the Extraordinary Session. Therefore assisted suicide is not currently legal in California.

Lets focus on aid in living, not aid in dying

The Baltimore Sun recently published an op-ed by Samantha Craine, the legal director for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, titled: Aid in living, not dying. Many people have bought into the theory of euthanasia, without recognizing the reality. Please read this article. (Alex Schadenberg)

O.J. Brigance, former Baltimore Raven

O.J. Brigance, former Baltimore Raven

By Samantha Craine

Around the country we have seen a concerted effort by special interest groups to promote the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, including legislation introduced in Maryland.Although these groups claim to be speaking for people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, no major nationwide disability rights groups support physician-assisted suicide. In fact, these laws make people with disabilities more vulnerable and reinforce the damaging perception that life with a disability is "undignified" and not worth living.

Although assisted suicide advocates claim that their legislation is about terminal illness and not disability, many of the arguments presented in favor of such physician-assisted-suicide legislation here and around the country assert a supposed "indignity" in needing help to eat, move, breathe or take medications. These arguments are rooted in a belief that it is better to die than to depend on others for assistance.

This belief is so pervasive that many people who become disabled find themselves struggling with suicidal thoughts. These thoughts may stem from the feeling that one is a burden on family members, fear of being placed in an institutional setting like a nursing home, or isolation as a result of lack of in-home supports. Moreover, people with disabilities are at heightened risk of abuse, isolation and exploitation.

Link to the full article

Physician Assisted Suicide Proponents Will Say Anything to Pass the Assisted Suicide Bill

This article was published on February 22, 2016 by Maryland Against Physician Assisted Suicide.

  • Requiring a professional mental health evaluation would “unnecessarily slow down” patient’s access to physician assisted suicide.
  • Terminal patients are in pain so this bill must be passed. 
  • [Including] too many regulatory requirements [in this bill] would make it impossible for a dying person to access death with dignity. 
  • It’s not falsifying the death certificate [by only listing the underlying terminal diagnosis instead of listing assisted suicide as reason for death] because that’s the way it is done in Oregon and Washington. 

It goes on and on like this. The list of false and misleading statements that physician assisted suicide proponents said at the House hearing on HB 404 last Friday is hard to believe. But let’s take them at their word and address each of these assertions one by one:

   1. Medical studies show that terminal patients have high rates of depression: according to this study “best estimates are that between 15% and 50% of cancer patients experience depressive symptoms, and 5% to 20% will meet various diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder.” These depressed, terminal patients have a poorer quality of life and a higher likelihood of having suicidal thoughts.

Proponents of physician assisted suicide and HB 404 are blatantly ignoring these data and argue that nothing should slow down a terminal patient’s quest to commit suicide, even if they are seriously depressed.

The 2015 data from Oregon show that an optional psychiatric evaluation does not work! Only 5 out of 132 patients receiving an assisted suicide prescription were referred for a professional mental health evaluation. That’s 3.8%. Far lower than the 15%-50% of cancer patients estimated to have depression (where 72% of OR residents receiving assisted suicide in 2015 had cancer!) 

   2. Pain isn’t even in the top 5 reasons why patients in Oregon chose assisted suicide. The 2015 Oregon “Death with Dignity” annual report shows that pain was the sixth highest reason stated for requesting assisted suicide – far behind “less ability to engage in activities that make life enjoyable”; “losing autonomy”; and “loss of dignity.”

   3. More regulatory requirements are exactly what an issue like physician assisted suicide demands and what legislators should seek in issues that are literally life and death. It’s insulting for assisted suicide proponents to argue that receiving a prescription to commit suicide should be as simple as possible.

   4. Just because Oregon and Washington “death with dignity” laws allow for the falsifying of a death certificate doesn’t mean it is OK to do in Maryland.

Contact Maryland Against Physician Assisted Suicide.

Poll Shows Little Support for Assisted Suicide and Major Concerns

Link to the PR Newswire media release on April 16, 2015.

As assisted suicide failed to pass in state legislatures across the country this year, a new Marist Poll sponsored by the Knights of Columbus found that a majority of Americans do not support assisted suicide and that strong majorities harbor deep concerns over such proposals.

Assisted suicide proposals have stalled since the start of the year in a number of states, including Connecticut, Maryland, Colorado and Nevada.

More than 6 in 10 Americans (61 percent) do not support a doctor prescribing or administering a lethal drug dose, saying that a doctor should instead only manage an illness or remove life support.

Additionally, 57 percent of Americans say they are less likely to trust a doctor who engages in assisted suicide.

Strong majorities of Americans also have deep concerns about assisted suicide, including:

  • 67 percent concerned that fewer life-saving options will be given at end of life.
  • 65 percent concerned that the elderly will be at risk in nursing homes.
  • 64 percent concerned that the depressed will be more likely to take their lives.
  • 59 percent concerned about a wrong diagnosis.
  • 55 percent concerned that the doctor could misjudge a patient's state of mind.
  • 55 percent concerned that it will become a cost-saving measure for health care decisions.
  • 54 percent concerned that patients will be pressured to take their life so as not to be a burden.

Between 4 in 10 and 6 in 10 of those who support assisted suicide also share each of these concerns.

Link to the full article

Former Super Bowl Champion who lives with ALS opposes assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

O.J. Brigance

O.J. Brigance

The Daily Signal reported that former Super Bowl champion, O.J. Brigance, testified against the legalization of assisted suicide at the Maryland Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Tuesday March 10.

Brigance, who was a Super Bowl champion with the Baltimore Ravens, has been living with ALS for 8 years. 

Link to the testimony.

Brigance urged the committee to reject the assisted suicide bill because it would "devalue lives." Brigance said that he has enjoyed some of the most meaningful years of his life since being diagnosed. He said:

"The thought that there would be a legal avenue for an individual to take his or her own life in a moment of despair, robbing family, friends and society of their presence and contribution to society deeply saddens me and is a tragedy,"

He also said:  

“Since being diagnosed, I have done a greater good for society in eight years, than in my 37 years on earth.”

Maryland is expected to vote on the assisted suicide bill in the next few weeks. 

Governor Larry Hogan, during the last election, said that he would veto an assisted suicide bill.

Lawmakers shouldn't legalize assisted suicide

The following letter was written by Louis C. Breschi and published in the Baltimore Sun on February 23, 2015. This letter is worth considering in any jurisdiction.

As a practicing physician, I was disappointed to read about the proposed physician-assisted suicide legislation in Maryland ("Dying former official a focus of Maryland assisted suicide bill," Feb. 14).

The article ignores the serious flaws in the legislation, while not giving credit to the broad range of groups and individuals who are actively opposing the bill.

There are numerous reasons to oppose this legislation, and they aren't just issues raised by religious or disability groups.

To begin, the bill does not require a patient to receive a psychiatric evaluation before receiving the lethal medication. Further, the legislation only applies to those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and six months or less to live.

To illustrate the inaccuracy of a six-month terminal estimate, a family friend this week was "discharged" from home hospice care because he was eating well, gaining well and felt better. Physicians' prognoses for longevity are just that — general estimates that may or may not apply to individual cases.

Finally, no doctor or nurse is present when the lethal dose is taken. Patients must take up to 100 pills in order for the medication to be lethal — drugs they will pick up at the local pharmacy.

Link to the full article