Monday, August 27, 2018

Virginia Medical Aid in Dying report may open the door to euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Virginia Joint Commission on Health Care released its Interim Report (August 22) which appears to promote the legalizing of assisted suicide.

The Commission report's use of language is particularly concerning.

The report uses the term: Medical Aid in Dying. This language is used by the pro-euthanasia lobby to promote euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Canada legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in June 2016 under the term Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD). In Canada MAiD refers to causing death by lethal injection (euthanasia) and lethal prescription (assisted suicide).

The definition of MAiD in the Commission report includes euthanasia.

The committee defined MAiD as:

  • The ability of a patient to obtain a medication to end their life if they are competent, terminally ill, and over 18 years of age.
  • The ability of a physician to prescribe a medication that will allow a competent, terminally ill individual over the age of 18 to end their life 
  • Some individuals/organizations prefer to use terms like assisted suicide.
    • However, different legal definition with implications if worded as such in Virginia statute.

The ability of a patient to obtain a medication to end their life does not limit the
act to assisted suicide. Obtaining a medication to end life can by done with a prescription for lethal drugs and an injection (euthanasia) of lethal drugs.

Medical Aid in Dying has also been interpreted to include palliative care. When euthanasia and/or assisted suicide is legalized under the term - MAiD it threatens good palliative care.

The study does not examine how the interpretation of language has expanded Oregon's assisted suicide act to people who are not terminally ill.

Communication between Craig New, analyst for the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Fabian Stahle, a Swedish researcher confirmed that the Oregon assisted suicide law is interpreted to include people who only become terminally ill if they refuse effective treatment, even when that treatment may cure the patient. Even a diabetic would qualify for assisted suicide in Oregon, if that person refuses insulin.

The study does not examine how assisted suicide laws are to cover-up any potential abuse. Assisted suicide laws enable the doctor who writes the lethal prescription to also be one of the doctors who approve the prescription and is also the doctor who is required to submit the assisted suicide report to the State Health Authority. This "self-reporting" system guarantee's that no abuse of the law will be found.

Virginians need to challenge the Joint Commission on Healthcare report before euthanasia and assisted suicide, under the guise of Medical Aid in Dying is imposed on Virginians.

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