Yesterday, the Maryland house of delegates passed a bill legalizing assisted suicide by 3 votes: 74-66. (71 needed for passage.) This bill has been presented 3 previous times and died in committee all of those times. I can’t understand how someone could be so set on killing others. I will summarize this bill then speak of why assisted suicide is wrong.
This Assisted Suicide Bill
The Baltimore Sun reports:
The legislation would allow a doctor to prescribe drugs to a patient that the person could take to end his or her life. The patient must be at least 18 years old and have a terminal illness with a prognosis of less than six months to live. The patient must request the prescription on three occasions, including once in private and once in writing — provisions meant to prevent patients from being coerced. [Below, I will explain why these “protections” offer little protection.]
Supporters said having the option of medically assisted suicide would allow people to maintain control and die without suffering. […]
“This is an intensely painful issue for all of us,” said Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith, a Prince George’s County Democrat who spoke against the bill.
After the vote was taken, Del. Shane Pendergrass, the bill’s sponsor, smiled and fist-bumped Del. Kumar Barve.
“I think that the quote that ‘Every person is one bad death away from supporting this bill’ was prophetic. It has been the thing that has resonated most with me over the years,” Pendergrass, a Howard County Democrat, said in an interview.
Now we must rely on the Senate to kill a companion bill sponsored by Sen. Will Smith or for Governor Hogan to veto it.
The Maryland Catholic Conference
The Maryland Catholic Conference responded:
Proponents claim this bill has safeguards that protect Maryland and only affects those who choose to use it. That is not true.
Allowing doctors to prescribe lethal doses of addictive drugs with no way to make sure those drugs don’t end up in the wrong hands or on our streets is bad policy. We need less drugs not more.
And there is nothing in this bill to ensure that insurance companies don’t deny coverage of life-saving treatments and instead fully pay for these lethal drugs because it’s more cost efficient to end life than it is to save it.
Despite what proponents claim, this bill does nothing to ensure the elderly, veterans, people with disabilities, and those diagnosed with terminal illness are not pressured into taking their lives because this would be an option.
This is the reality: the claim is always a person close to death who has full freedom but in reality it is the poor, disabled and elderly who are pushed into killing themselves by the system.
They also created a form for you to email your Maryland representatives.
Assisted Suicide is Wrong
On a fundamental level assisted suicide puts man in God’s place deciding when man passes from this life. It goes against our nature as humans who seek what is good and against doctor’s ethical codes which say “do no harm.” However, that is not all.
Problems I’ve Seen in the Past 8 Months
Recently, I have written about how legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide:
- Allowed a Dutch autistic man to be euthanized despite no terminal diagnosis.
- Allowed a Belgian woman distraught after a romantic breakup to be euthanized. (Although later, this resulted in one of the few cases of prosecution against doctors prescribing euthanasia or assisted suicide.)
- Meant that the “safeguards” put in place in Europe consistently failed (according to the NIH). In Oregon, the system is set up so abuse can’t be detected or pursued so doctors could go well beyond the publicly-stated intent of the law without any danger of prosecution. (And mainstream media intentionally distorts this data, allowing claims like “there has been no evidence of misuse or abuse” to go unchallenged.)
- Means that medical systems pressure patients into accepting death by drugs.
- Allows feeding tubes to be removed of an unconscious patient without his consent.
- Means medical staff can pressure patients to kill themselves, then claim otherwise. (The patient recorded them.)
- Results in children being euthanized when they usually aren’t considered mature enough to consent to so many other things.
- Means that it will inevitably be used in cases far beyond the cases used to legalize it.
- Means that if a patient says one thing when well, they can’t change their mind: a patient was held down to euthanize her.
- Often puts doctors in a tough spot when deadly drugs are demanded.
- Means family members won’t be told about it till after.
- Result in further class division.
In Canada, they said they were legalizing assisted suicide, but in practice, 99.95% of people dying through deadly drugs were euthanized (medicine administered by a doctor or nurse, so consent is less clear). Canada is also limiting conscious objections to push doctors to prescribe deadly drugs against their morals.
A Doctor’s Editorial Against Assisted Suicide
Dr. Janet D. Conway wrote a brief editorial in the Baltimore Sun:
s a physician, I have the ultimate respect for life. All my training over the last 30 years has been to promote, support and protect life. I am opposed to the recently renamed End-Of-Life Option Act. […] Call it what you want, it’s still physician-assisted suicide.
I realize that no one can cheat death. That event will happen regardless. What is driving this unfortunate bill is fear. Fear of pain, fear of being a burden, fear of lack of control, fear of feeling hopeless and depressed. Only poor decisions can be made based on fear and lack of knowledge.
As a physician, it is my job to educate and support patients so that they live the completion of their life to the fullest. This means that I reassure them that their pain will be well-managed and follow through on resources to help them with this. They don’t have to live in fear of pain because we have tackled this problem head-on. […]
Kind, caring, compassionate physicians are the ones who can really guide and help their patients navigate this.
Any doctor who chooses to assist his patient in taking his own life has preyed upon an innocent victim. How can anyone trust a doctor to be fully supportive of their health and well-being when they also have the legal right to kill? I did not spent 10 years in training to obtain a licence to kill. I do not support suicide and neither should your doctor.
If you live in Maryland, please write and phone your state senator and Governor Hogan.
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