Thursday, January 13, 2022

Kentucky Assisted Suicide bill uses expansive definitions.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Kentucky legislature.
One of my predictions that I published on January 5 was that most of the new assisted suicide bills would use the expansive definitions found in the New Mexico assisted suicide law. The New Mexico assisted suicide law is the most extreme in America.

Kentucky assisted suicide bill (HB 149) is clearly based on the New Mexico law. Even though Kentuck is unlikely to legalize assisted suicide, the assisted suicide lobby have introduced a more expansive bill than the Oregon law.

Even though we are talking about giving someone a lethal assisted suicide drug cocktail and death is irrevocable:

  1. HB 149 uses the term "Health care provider" rather than the term physician. Health care provider includes: a doctor of medicine, a doctor of osteopathy, an advanced practice registered nurse and a physician assistant. Therefore nurses and physician assistants can be involved with assessing and prescribing lethal drug cocktails. Similar to the New Mexico law, providing a wider definition of who can participate in assisted suicide deals with the reality that very few doctors will do assisted suicide.
  2. HB 149 maintains the 15 day waiting period but it allows the health care provider to wave the 15 day waiting period if it is determined that the person may have less than 15 days to live. Based on this definition, HB 149 allows for a same day death.
  3. HB 149 allows delivery of the lethal drug cocktail by mail.
  4. HB 149 tramples on the conscience rights of health care providers who oppose assisted suicide. The bill does not require health care providers to directly participate in assisted suicide but it states that "the failure to provide information about medical aid in dying to a qualified individual who requests it or failure to refer the qualified individual ... shall be considered a failure to obtain informed consent...
  5. HB 149 tramples on the rights of health care facilities that oppose assisted suicide. The bill does not require health care facilities to permit assisted suicide but it prohibits health care facilities from preventing health care providers from providing informed consent and meeting the standards of care. The term informed consent means providing all information about assisted suicide.

Similar to all assisted suicide bills, HB 149 requires the health care provider to only fulfill a "good faith compliance." Therefore a health care provider who prescribed an assisted suicide drug cocktail in "good faith" has no fear of being "subject to civil or criminal liability or professional disciplinary action, including censure, suspension, loss of license, loss of privileges, loss of membership, or any other penalty".

Assisted suicide bills are not about freedom of choice but rather these bills are assisted suicide provider protection bills.

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