"Physician-assisted" suicide in now legal in Washington & Vermont, and by court fiat in Montana. Supporters like Compassion & Choices (the old Hemlock Society) are using the Brittany Maynard case to fuel their agenda in many states. However, their pleas are not gaining traction in Kansas, despite the filing of identical bills HB 2068/HB 2108 last year and HB 2150 this year.
Kansas enacted a ban on assisted suicide in 1998 and it is the correct public policy.
Kansans for Life opposes assisted suicide, whether renamed "Death with Dignity" or "physician-assisted death." Once a society agrees some suicides are good, the categories of the "disposable" never stops expanding;
the "right" to die inevitably becomes the duty to die for the most vulnerable: the chronically ill, the elderly and the medically expensive.
In Oregon, legalization of assisted suicide in 1994 has empowered the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) to steer patients to suicide. Specifically, the Plan denies coverage for treatment and offers to pay for suicide instead. (see affidavit of Ken Stevens, MD ¶¶ 8 to 12, here.)
Oregon is now seeing a proposal to expand the current terminal diagnosis needed for assisted suicide to one year, instead of six months. Predictions of life expectancy, however, can be wrong and treatment can lead to recovery.
Consider Oregon resident, Jeanette Hall, who was diagnosed with cancer and adamant that she would "do" Oregon's law. Her doctor convinced her to be treated instead. Now, twelve years later, "she is thrilled to be alive." Legal assisted suicide encourages people with many quality years left to throw away their lives. (see affidavit of Kenneth Stevens, MD, ¶¶ 3 to 7 here.)
The Oregon and Washington assisted suicide laws have significant gaps so that people who use these laws are unprotected from abuse. The most obvious gap is a complete lack of oversight when the lethal drug is administered. This creates the opportunity for an heir, or for someone else who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the drug to the patient without his consent. Even if the patient struggled, who would know? These laws create the opportunity for the perfect crime.
Pro-assisted suicide groups tout Oregon as a model to follow. However the assisted suicide law "is rife with dangers and flaws," according to Gayle Atteberry, Executive Director, Oregon Right to Life. The remainder of this post is excerpted from her excellent article, published today in National Right to Life News.
"While Oregon's law requires that patients who are thought to be depressed have a psychiatric exam, only three percent of patients in 2014 were actually seen by a psychiatrist. This low percentage has remained consistent through the years despite a study which showed that 26% of patients seeking physician assisted suicide are depressed.
Depression is the number one factor in people seeking to kill themselves. Clearly Oregon's law is failing to protect patients who could be treated for clinical depression and possibly miss many treasured times with family and friends."
"Some who were first to use Oregon's law, as well as Brittany Maynard, used their deaths to promote physician assisted suicide, and went to the press to "tell all." However, other than those highly publicized deaths, we know very little about the other hundreds of assisted deaths.
Oregon's law shrouds all physician-assisted suicides in secrecy. There is no peer or state review to see if deaths were carried out according to the law, and after a year all reports by physicians are destroyed. We have a few raw numbers garnered from physicians who self-reported the deaths. There is no way to know if all deaths are reported.
Each year since the law's passage, deaths from physician assisted suicide have steadily climbed. The number of reported deaths in 2014 skyrocketed 44% over 2013 numbers. One hundred and five patients killed themselves using the law in 2014. Deaths have increased 556% since the law was implemented in 1998."
"Contrary to the mantra of pro-assisted suicide folks that unrelenting pain is the reason assisted suicide needs to be legalized, the three most common reasons given for using the deadly potion were "losing autonomy" (96%), "less able to enjoy activities" (91%) and "loss of dignity" (75%).
Those who promote assisted suicide pretend they want a very limited law. We knew back in 1994 that was not their goal. Their real agenda can be seen in Belgium and the Netherlands, where they now are legally euthanizing people with "mental anguish." Even children can legally "request" euthanasia. It is also legal to have parents request euthanasia for their infants Their goal, it appears, is 'death on demand'."