Friday, May 31, 2024

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition supports Congressional Resolution (HCR 109) on the Dangers of Assisted Suicide

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition supports Congressional Resolution (HCR 109) on the Dangers of Assisted Suicide as introduced by Rep Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M., (R-OH) and Rep Lou Correa, (D-CA). 

EPC urges Congress to expedite the debate and pass this Resolution.

Link to the full resolution (Link).

Congressional Resolution 109 does the following:

1. It defines the language as to what assisted suicide is as compared to suicide and it reiterates the importance of suicide prevention programs.

2. It recognizes that assisted suicide most directly threatens the lives of people who are elderly, experience depression, have a disability, or are subject to emotional or financial pressure to end their lives;

3. It states that: 

  • the Oregon Health Authority's annual reports indicate that pain or the fear of pain is listed second to last (25 percent) among the reasons cited by people seeking assisted suicide drugs since 1998 and the top 5 reasons cited are psychological and social concerns: ‘‘losing autonomy’’ (92 percent), ‘‘less able to engage in activities that make life enjoyable’’ (90 percent), ‘‘loss of dignity’’ (79 percent), ‘‘losing control of bodily functions’’ (48 percent), and ‘‘burden on family friends/caregivers’’ (41 percent);
  • the Supreme Court has ruled twice (in Washington v. Glucksberg and Vacco v. Quill) that there is no constitutional right to assisted suicide, that the Government has a legitimate interest in prohibiting assisted suicide, and that such prohibitions rationally relate to ‘‘protecting the vulnerable from coercion’’ and ‘‘protecting disabled and terminally ill people from prejudice, negative and inaccurate stereotypes, and ‘societal indifference’;
  • assisted suicide is not a legitimate health care service and that Congress passed, with a nearly unanimous vote, and President Bill Clinton signed the Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act to prevent the use of Federal funds for any item or service, including advocacy, provided for the purpose of causing, or assisting in causing, the death of any individual such as by assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing;

4. It points out that States that authorize assisted suicide:

  • do not require that such patients receive psychological screening or treatment, though studies show that the overwhelming majority of patients contemplating suicide experience depression;
  • do not require a medical attendant or qualified monitor be present at the time the lethal dose is taken, used, ingested, or administered to intervene in the event of medical complications;
  • do not require that a qualified monitor be present to assure that the patient is knowingly and voluntarily taking, using, ingesting, or administering the lethal dose;
  • do not prevent family members, heirs, or health care providers from pressuring patients to request assisted suicide;
  • use a broad definition of ‘‘terminal disease’’ whereby ‘‘going to die in six months or less’’ includes diseases (such as diabetes or HIV) that, if appropriately treated, would not otherwise result in death within six months and it is extremely difficult even for the most experienced doctors to accurately prognosticate a six-month life expectancy as required, making such a prognosis a prediction, not a certainty;

5. It states that: 

  • reporting requirements vary by State, but when required, they rely on prescribing physicians or dispensing pharmacists to self-report; and such reporting is neither conducted by an objective third party nor of sufficient depth and accuracy to effectively monitor the occurrence of assisted suicide. 
  • there is an astounding lack of transparency in the practice of assisted suicide to the extent that State health departments and other authorities admittedly have no method of knowing if it is being practised within the bounds of State laws and they have no funding or authority to make such a determination; and some State laws actively conceal assisted suicide by directing the physician to list the cause of death as the underlying condition without reference to death by suicide; 
  • based on the confidential nature of end-of-life decisions, it is virtually impossible to effectively monitor a physician’s behavior to prevent abuses, making any number of safeguards insufficient;
  • the cost of lethal drugs is far less costly than many life-saving treatments, which threatens to restrict treatment options, especially for disadvantaged and vulnerable persons, as has happened in several known cases and presumably many more unknown in which insurers have denied or delayed coverage for life-saving care while offering to cover assisted suicide;
  • access to personal assistance services such as in-home hospice and palliative care, home health care aides, and nursing care or assistance is regretfully limited and subject to long waiting lists in many areas, placing systemic pressure on patients in need of such personal assistance services to resort to assisted suicide; and
  • For all these reasons, assisted suicide undermines the integrity of the health care system: 

It concludes:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), that it is the sense of Congress that the Federal Government should ensure that every person facing the end of their life have access to the best quality and comprehensive medical care, including palliative, in-home, or hospice care, tailored to their needs and that the Federal Government should not adopt or endorse policies or practices that support, encourage, or facilitate suicide or assisted suicide, whether by physicians or others.

The National Council on Disability: The Danger of Assisted Suicide Laws (Link).

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