Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Sulmasy responds to a pro-assisted suicide study.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A study normalizing the assisted suicide practices in Oregon and Washington State, was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The purpose of the study - Trends in Medical Aid in Dying in Oregon and Washington is to encourage other states to legalize assisted suicide in a similar.manner as Oregon and Washington State.

In his response to the study, titled: Physician-assisted suicide and the perils of empirical ethical research, Dr Daniel Sulmasy, from the Kennedy Institute of ethics, outlines the bias and the intention of normalizing assisted suicide and how the language of the article infers that there is nothing wrong with assisted suicide. Sulmasy points out that one of the study authors wrote 15% of the Oregon assisted suicide prescriptions in 2018.

Sulmasy states:

There is also much that we do not know. We have few direct, valid studies of the patients and practitioners. We do not know how many cases are unreported to the databanks. We do not know how many patients are pressured into obtaining prescriptions. We do not know how many patients engage in “doctor shopping,” finding someone who will agree to their request if turned down by a given physician. We do not really know how often the process goes awry. We know little about the after-effects on practitioners and family, although there are reports of post traumatic stress disorder.6 We also need more data on suicide contagion, because preliminary reports7 suggest increased rates of suicide in the general population of states that have legalized PAS.
Sulmasy continues by commenting on the Slippery Slope arguments:
Safeguards built into the law are coming to be seen as barriers. As already noted, few patients are ever referred to psychiatrists. A new law in Oregon (Oregon Senate Bill 579) now allows a patient to bypass the waiting period and take the pills within 2 days, and legislation has been passed by the Oregon House (Oregon House Bill 2217) to allow injection of lethal drugs, a hair’s breadth away from euthanasia.5 There are increasing calls for permitting patients with dementia to be able to authorize their deaths through advance directives. In Belgium and the Netherlands, 5% of all deaths are by euthanasia and the indications have expanded to include psychiatric illness and life completion.8,9 Euthanized patients are now regular sources for organ donation.10 Although there is no empirical proof that the United States will follow these trends if PAS is more widely adopted, the logic that justifies PAS inexorably points in this direction. Studying these trends empirically will not prevent them from occurring. Are we willing to entertain a serious ethical debate, based on reasoned argument, or will we be content merely to file empirical reports on whatever fate befalls us?
Taking the opposing view on assisted suicide will not make Sulmasy popular, but his comments are correct. The assisted suicide lobby is working overtime to normalize the abandonment of people to lethal drugs. 

Further to the comments by Sulmasy, no studies have been done to uncover what happened to the 43 people in Oregon or the 19 people in Washington State who received lethal drugs and whose ingestion status is unknown. The Netherlands and Belgium have done wider, death studies, that have uncovered abuse of the law in those countries. Oregon and Washington State have never done similar studies. We simply don't know how many times assisted suicide was actually euthanasia, in those states because no research has been done.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Thou Shall Not Kill People!