Monday, June 1, 2020

Did the Massachusetts assisted suicide lobby change its tactic or are they just lying?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Massachusetts legislature
Last Friday, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health, sadly advanced assisted suicide bills S.1208 and H.1926. I do not think there is time, in this legislative session to pass these bills into law, but the fact that they passed in committee is concerning.

It is also concerning that a commentary that was published in a Massachusetts newspaper causes more confusion as to what assisted suicide is. The article titled: In support of passing death with dignity law states:

There is nothing mandatory in this bill. No doctor may prescribe terminal sedation (my emphasis) requested by a patient unless the patient:
■ is mentally capable, and not suffering from clinical depression or anxiety severe enough to impair his/her judgment;
■ can take the prescribed medication by him or herself;
■ has requested the medication orally and in writing, with two witnesses, one of whom cannot be included in the patient’s will;
■ has met with two physicians and one mental health professional who each attest first to the patient’s understanding and awareness of the full consequences of her/his request, and second to the diagnosis of a terminal illness that will in all likelihood end her/his life within six months.
First, terminal sedation is not assisted suicide. Terminal sedation is a medical act to sedate a person who is experiencing uncontrolled symptoms. Terminal sedation can be abused, by intentionally overdosing or by sedating a person and then dehydrating the person to death, nonetheless terminal sedation is not assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide is to intentionally prescribe lethal drugs, knowing that the person intends to use the lethal drug cocktail to die by suicide.

Is equating terminal sedation with assisted suicide a way to change the way assisted suicide is viewed?

Secondly, people who die by assisted suicide in Oregon, where assisted suicide has been legal for more than 20 years, are rarely sent for a psychological assessment, even though a study found that more than 25% of patients who request assisted suicide are experiencing depression or feelings of hopelessness

According to the 2019 Oregon assisted suicide report, that out of 188 reported assisted suicide deaths only one of those people were sent for a psychological assessment.

Finally, the assisted suicide lobby promotes assisted suicide as a "peaceful death." The fact is that many assisted suicide deaths are prolonged and painful deaths.

Legalizing assisted suicide gives doctors who agree to cause the death of patients complete legal protection for doing so.

There are many more problems with assisted suicide. We believe in caring, not killing.

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