Military Veterans Threatened by Assisted Suicide

This article was published by True Dignity Vermont on May 14, 2016.

Rep Al Baldasaro

Rep Al Baldasaro

Representative Al Baldasaro of the New Hampshire Legislature on gave an impassioned speech on May 11 against a proposed “study committee” to look at “end of life choices.” Speaking on behalf of Veterans’ PTSD/TBI Commission, he cited the fact that New Hampshire is facing an epidemic of suicides among Veterans, and said: 

“What message are you sending to the community out there and all the good work every one of us has done to protect people from killing themselves? Now we want to make it easy?”

Link to the video/speech by Representative Al Baldasaro.

He said that opening the door to such a practice would have grave consequences for veterans at risk for suicide, and that even studying such a bill would threaten efforts to help veterans. He clearly states that euphemisms such as “aid in dying” don’t change the fact that such laws promote suicide and threaten efforts to protect people from killing themselves.

Why on Earth is Anyone Surprised By the Rise in US Suicides? Advertising Works.

This article was published by True Dignity Vermont on April 22, 2016.

News sources are reporting with surprise and seeming alarm on the Center for Disease Control’s newly released statistics showing that deaths by suicide in the entire US are on the rise. Why the surprise? It has been common knowledge since the rise of mass media, and even before, that advertising works. 

True Dignity has neither the expertise nor the time to analyze the CDC report’s statistics in detail. A few quotes will suffice to paint the picture of our current situation.

“The suicide rate in the United States increased by 24% from 1999 through 2014…among all groups. The increase in suicide rate has been steady since 1999, before which there was a consistent decline since 1986…” (USA Today, April 22, 2016).

The USA Today article speculates (which is all anybody can do) that the rise is linked to a poor economy. We at True Dignity cannot fail to note that the rise began just as the economic boom of the 1990s was beginning to wind down, and continued through the fairly affluent 2000s, admittedly rising at a higher rate beginning in 2006, on the brink of the Great Recession. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Though the economy may well have contributed to this rise, True Dignity calls everyone’s attention to a fact that is being ignored. 1998 was the year in which Oregon became the first state in the nation to put legalized assisted suicide into practice. This happened after a furious and widely publicized public argument between pro-assisted suicide forces and those opposing it, an argument waged in the courts and eventually decided by the US Supreme Court, which allowed it in Oregon but declined to make it a right nationally. 1999 was the first year for which the state of Oregon issued its annual report on its assisted suicide deaths. Ironically, this supposedly neutral government report called assisted suicide by the attractive name given to the law that made it legal: Death with Dignity.

The World Health Organization has warned the media that: 1) “Language that misinforms the public about suicide or normalizes it should be avoided”, and that the media should 2) “Avoid prominent placement and undue repetition of stories about suicide.” Yet, beginning in the period leading up to the implementation of the Oregon law and reaching a climax with Brittany Maynard’s picture on the cover of People, there has been relentless media promotion of suicide, relentless misinformation about laws that allow medical professionals to facilitate deaths of people who could have lived years and that contain virtually no protections against euthanasia or even murder of a person who, believing him or herself to be terminally ill, has obtained a lethal prescription. We have detailed the ways in which the laws allow this to happen so many times that we won’t repeat ourselves here, only urge you to search our topic list.

Bottom line: Compassion and Choices has engaged in an ad campaign, both paid and freely given by the media, and it has been effective. The only thing that should surprise us about the rise in suicide deaths is that it has not been even bigger. We hope that the efforts of many individuals and groups, including ours, have, by calling suicide exactly what the World Health organization has urged the media to call it, “a public health problem”, contributed to that fact, the only silver lining to a terrible cloud hanging over our nation and the world.

Will we be able to hold the line? California has been the only US state to [pass] assisted suicide legislation since the Maynard campaign, but legalization is a threat in multiple states. Canada’s highest court has ruled that assisted suicide is a right, and has ordered Parliament to write laws to regulate it.

"Not everyone has family members to protect them."

Dear Assembly members:

My husband and I recently moved from Vermont because we fear growing old in a state with legal assisted suicide.

Vermont offers a case study of assisted suicide’s effects. True Dignity Vermont, an advocacy group working for repeal of assisted suicide, recently reported that nursing home staff had approached a healthy 90 year old, in the home for rehab after a fall, to tell her about her “right” to assisted suicide. Her adult daughter noticed that her mother was upset and uncomfortable, but only found out what had happened after her mother was moved to another facility, where she went to pieces when the staff innocently tried to talk to her about her end of life wishes.

My husband and I envy the 90 year old her supportive family, which got her out of a situation in which she felt traumatizing pressure. Not everyone has family members to protect them. For us and many others, legal assisted suicide is a mortal danger.

With the exception of Vermont, legislators in every state, after hearing the evidence, have refused to legalize assisted suicide.

We urge you to do the same.

Carolyn and Gerald McMurray
Long Beach,

Assisted Suicide and the Patient - Physician Relationship

This article was published on the Repeal Act 39 website.

By Dr Robert S Emmons

Dr Robert Emmons

Dr Robert Emmons

I am a psychiatrist with twenty-five years of experience in private practice. I hold the rank of Part-Time Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont College of Medicine, where for many years, I taught the practice of ethics and psychoanalytic psychotherapy to residents and medical students. I am a past chair of the Ethics Committee of the Vermont District Branch of the American Psychiatric Association.

I am not here to tell my neighbors how to live or end their lives, nor am I here to tell my colleagues how to practice. Rather, I am here to inform you about the clinical problems that are created as the State of Vermont gets involved.

The Code of Ethics of the American Medical Association prohibits physician involvement in prescribing or advising on lethal prescriptions or any other form of patient suicide: “Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.” I do not belong to the AMA, but I do subscribe to this principle of ethics. My code of ethics does not compel me to interfere in any way with the choices of others about how their lives may end; my code of ethics applies only to my own actions as a physician. I am not here to tell my neighbors how to live or end their lives, nor am I here to tell my colleagues how to practice.

Link to the full article

Demographics of the Pro-Death Lobby

Published by True Dignity Vermont on November 24, 2014

Bloggers from True Dignity attended the East Coast Conference Against Assisted Suicide on Saturday in Hartford, CT. Thank you to Peter and Leslie Wolfgang from Connecticut Family Foundation for organizing a successful event. We will be blogging periodically about some new interesting perspectives on assisted suicide gained from the convention.

A few of the speakers have been directly engaged with the pro-assisted suicide / euthanasia lobby over the years, which led to a very interesting chain of comments and discussion about what was encountered within the assisted suicide lobby. Learning the demographics of this group was incredibly interesting.

Alex Schadenberg from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition spoke about attending the annual conference for the pro-assisted suicide / pro-euthanasia lobby. He expected to meet a room full of people that looked much like our lobby in opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia, with the opposite opinion on the issue. We know our lobby looks like America, consisting of different ethnic groups, people from all walks of life, both elderly and young, representatives from disability groups and the medical community.

Link to the full article.

Facts on the ground prove a slippery slope is here

Published by True Dignity Vermont on November 24, 2014

“You don’t see people marching in the street demanding the right to be killed by a doctor,” Attorney and Award winning Author Wesley J. Smith told a packed conference room at Saturday’s East Coast Conference Against Assisted Suicide in Hartford, Conn., coordinated by the Family Institute of Connecticut and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

“Suicide pushers are a small group. We look like America, they don’t,” Smith emphasized.

The “we” to whom Smith referred, are essentially anyone for whom legally sanctioned, assisted suicide poses a very real risk. The elderly, the frail, the mentally ill, those who face serious illness or disability of any kind– all eventually may be judged as “better off dead” in a culture where the solution to suffering is to kill the sufferer, Smith told the audience.

Link to the full article

Assisted suicide often involves pain and suffering

By Lani Candelora

Did you know that many assisted suicides experience complications? Assisted suicide is wrongly marketed to the public as a flawless, peaceful escape from suffering. It can be a painful and scary death. It can include gasping, muscle spasms, nausea, vomiting, panic, confusion, failure to produce unconsciousness, waking from unconsciousness and a failure to cause death.

Just recently, we saw a heartbreaking article about a woman named Brittany Maynard who has planned her assisted-suicide death for Nov. 1. She is clearly terrified of a hard and painful death, and has been led to believe that assisted suicide is the best way out. However, Compassion and Choices, the leading advocates of assisted suicide, cannot guarantee her the easy death they advertise.

The most comprehensive study on clinical problems with assisted suicide (published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Feb. 12, 2000) was conducted over a six-year period in the Netherlands, where assisted suicide has been legal for many years. It found that over 18 percent of assisted suicides experienced problems severe enough to cause a doctor to step in and euthanize the patient. In at least 14 percent of assisted suicides the patient had problems with completion including waking up from coma, not becoming comatose, and not dying after becoming comatose. Another 7 percent of assisted suicides reported muscle spasms, extreme gasping for air, nausea and vomiting.

Link to the full article.