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Saving Money on Medical Treatment in California
(October 5, 2015)
Governor Jerry Brown has signed the “End of Life Options Act,” transforming doctor-prescribed suicide into a medical treatment in California. The law, which failed to pass during the regular session, was introduced during an extraordinary session called by the governor to deal with Medicare costs. The stated purpose of that session was to “stabilize the General Fund’s costs for Medi-Cal.”   There is no doubt that permitting doctors to prescribe a deadly overdose of drugs to patients will save money for California. But at what cost to vulnerable patients?

Here is what will happen under the “End of Life Option Act:”
Points to consider

“California coroners have issues with new assisted death law”
(PolitiCal — October 7, 2015)
The head of a group representing county coroners in California said there are some serious problems that need to be addressed…One is what to list on death certificates as the immediate cause of death.
More on California
Scroll down for latest developments and featured articles below
In addition to bills still pending in New Jersey, doctor-prescribed suicide bills have been proposed this year in more than twenty states.  For more information on each bill, click on the state name below.
District of Columbia


New York
North Carolina
Rhode Island

Scroll down for other Recent Developments, and for Featured Articles.
For additional information, see Site Map.

The Latest PRC Update (2015 – Volume 29, No. 3,):

  • Doctor-prescribed suicide activists thwarted in legislatures across the U.S.
  • Dutch & Belgian induced-death practices out of control
  • News briefs from home & abroad
    View as plain text.  View as PDF

Who will speak for you?
Imagine you are in an accident tomorrow and so seriously injured that you aren’t able to communicate about your health care wishes for several weeks. Who would make health care decisions for you during that time? Do you need an advance directive?

To obtain a durable power of attorney for health care for the state in which you are a resident, call the Patients Rights Council (800-958-5678 or 740-282-3810) between 8:30am and 4:30pm (eastern time).

Recent Major Developments

“NDY Denounces Governor’s Decision on Assisted Suicide Bill”
(Not Dead Yet — October 5, 2015)
Governor Brown’s message accompanying his action states that he “carefully read” materials from opponents such as “those who champion disability rights,” but he nevertheless seems to have missed key facts.
More on California
More on Disability Perspective

“Dutch doctor in hot water for refusing to approve euthanasia”
(BioEdge — September 26, 2015)
A Dutch general practitioner is being sued for not approving the euthanasia of a 19-year-old woman.  The tragic events surrounding the death of Milou de Moor could become an important legal precedent.  Ms. de Moor suffered from lupus, an autoimmune disease, from the age of 12.
More on the Netherlands

“Assisted Dying Bill: MPs overwhelmingly REJECT ‘right to die'”
(Express — United Kingdom — September 11, 2015)
Members of Parliament voted three to one against giving a second reading to the Assisted Dying Bill, which would allow terminally ill patients to be supplied with a lethal dose of drugs.  It was the first vote on the controversial issue in almost 20 years.
More on United Kingdom

Proposed ballot measure to be heard in Colorado
(September 9, 2015)
The proposed constitutional amendment (Amendment Number 2016#34) would legalize “medical aid in dying” and, if passed, would enshrine death on demand for any reason as a constitutional right.
Analysis of ballot measure
More on Colorado

“New Mexico court strikes down ruling that allowed assisted suicide”
(Washington Times — August 11, 2015)
The New Mexico Court of Appeals handed a defeat to the right-to-die movement Tuesday by striking down a lower-court ruling establishing physician-assisted suicide.
The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the district court had erred when it determined that “aid in dying is a fundamental liberty interest.”
More on New Mexico

Sixth Annual Report on Doctor-Prescribed Suicide in Washington (8/6/15)

  • Top reasons reported for requesting doctor-prescribed suicide:
    Losing autonomy, less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable, loss of dignity, and burden on family, friends or caregivers. (p. 7)
  • 70% of patients who received the lethal prescription had only Medicare and/or Medicaid coverage. (p. 5)
  • Only 4% of patients receiving the prescription were referred for psychiatric or psychological evaluation. (p. 8)
  • The prescriptions were for an overdose of Seconal for 64% of patients and Pentobarbital for 36% of patients. (p. 8)
  • The length of the doctor-patient relationship was less than one week in one or more cases. (p. 8)
    More on Washington

“Providers back bill notifying Medicare patients about observation stays”
(Modern Healthcare — August 1, 2015)
Healthcare providers are expressing support for legislation overwhelmingly approved by Congress requiring hospitals to notify Medicare patients when they are receiving observation care but have not been admitted….  That’s because to qualify for skilled-nursing facility coverage, beneficiaries must first spend three consecutive midnights as an admitted patient in a hospital; observations days don’t count.
More on Medicare

“Judge Tosses Challenge to CA’s Assisted-Suicide Ban”
(Courthouse News Service — July 27, 2015)
San Diego Superior Court Judge Gregory Pollack threw out a plaintiff’s case, ruling that “it’s up to the Legislature or the people to change the law.”  In his ruling, Pollack called assisted death quicker and less expensive than prolonging treatment and said there is a much greater potential for its abuse.
The plaintiffs said they will appeal.
More on California.

“Strasbourg rejects right to die cases”
(UK Human Rights Blog — July 20, 2015)
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the applications to the ECtHR in Nicklinson and Lamb v UK, cases concerning assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, are inadmissible.
Text of opinion
More on United Kingdom

“Medicare Plans to Pay Doctors for Counseling on End of Life”
(New York Times — July 8, 2015)
Medicare, the federal program that insures 55 million older and disabled Americans, announced plans on Wednesday to reimburse doctors for conversations with patients about whether and how they would want to be kept alive if they became too sick to speak for themselves.
More on Medicare
More on POLST

“Healthy 24-year-old granted right to die in Belgium”
(Newsweek Europe — June 29, 2015)
The 24-year-old woman known simply as Laura, has been given the go-ahead by health professionals in Belgium to receive a lethal injection after spending both her childhood and adult life suffering from “suicidal thoughts”, she told local Belgian media.
More on Belgium

“Supreme Court saves Obamacare”
(CNN – June 25, 2015)
The ruling holds that the Affordable Care Act authorized federal tax credits for eligible Americans living not only in states with their own exchanges but also in the 34 states with federal marketplaces.
Text of court decision
More on Obamacare

“Will suicide bill die a natural death?”
(San Francisco Chronicle — June 24, 2015)
When [California] Senate Bill 128, which would legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, passed the state Senate, supporters hailed the measure’s success as a sign of its inevitability….It turns out reports of the measure’s slam-dunkedness were greatly exaggerated.
More on California

“Under 12s have right to die: Dutch paediatricians”
(Times Live — June 19 2015)
“We feel that an arbitrary age limit such as 12 should be changed and that each child’s ability to ask to die should be evaluated in a case-by-case basis,” said Eduard Verhagen, paediatrics professor at Groningen University….A change in the law would bring the Netherlands in line with Belgium, which in 2014 became the first country in the world to pass a law allowing euthanasia for a young  child who has the “discernment” necessary to decide to give up life.
More on the Netherlands
More on Children and Teens

“Assisted suicide bill fails in Maine legislature”
(Press Herald — June 17, 2015)
Maine lawmakers have defeated a bill that would have allowed doctors to provide lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients.
More on Maine

“Belgian GPs ‘killing patients who have not asked to die': Report says thousands have been killed despite not asking their doctor”
(Mail Online — June 11, 2015)
Report author Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor of Hull University said: “The decision as to which life is no longer worth living is not in the hands of the patient but in the hands of the doctor.”
More on Belgium

“Right-To-Die Bill Passes Senate: Unknown How Gov. Brown Will Vote”
(CBS Sacramento — June 4, 2015)
California’s right-to-die bill passed the state senate on a 23 to 14 vote ahead of a legislative timeline…,SB 128 now goes to several committees, then to the assembly….Governor Jerry Brown will have to make the final decision. He has not weighed in on the issue.
More on California

“Colombian Public Doctors Must Now Provide Euthanasia By Law”
(Pan Am Post — June 4, 2015)
A new ruling by Colombia’s Constitutional Court means that public health institutions, and all the doctors who wok in them, will be unable to refuse a patient’s request for assisted suicide.
More on Colombia

“Hooker sues state officials about aid-in-dying”
(WSMV — May 19, 2015)
Nashville attorney John Jay Hooker and three doctors have filed a lawsuit against state officials over Hooker’s desire for himself and others to receive “aid-in-dying.”
A bill sponsored by state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, that would have allowed the right to die or assisted suicide was sent by legislators in both houses to summer study.

Featured Articles

“Assisted Suicide Increases Other Suicides”
(National Review — October 6, 2015)
A study published in the Southern Medical Journal reported findings that there is a statistically significant suicide increase in states that have legalized assisted suicide.

“A Doctor-Assisted Disaster for Medicine”
(Wall Street Journal — August 17, 2015)
“As a professor of family medicine at Oregon’s Health & Science University in Portland, as well as a licensed physician for 35 years, I have seen firsthand how the law has changed the relationship between doctors and patients, some of whom now fear that they are being steered toward assisted suicide.”
More on Oregon

“Last Stand”
(Pulse — July 24, 2015)
The first time I saw Jessa, she lay crumpled in the ICU bed….As I read, Jessa’s mouth opened wide, in a smile brighter than we’d yet seen from her.  The medical student across the bed from me began to cry, “From joy and amazement,” the student later said.  Seeing Jessa’s smile, and the student’s tears, I felt my mind stop in its tracks. Time stood still.

“Medicare’s midlife crisis: Catastrophic finances pit doctors against patients”
(Washington Examiner — July 20, 2015)
ACO’s [Accountable Care Organizations put doctors in charge of both the treatment and payment of healthcare.  It puts the doctor and patient in conflict with each other, especially sicker patients.  The more sicker patients, the harder it is to achieve savings.”
More on Medicare

“As assisted suicide laws spread, cancer survivors, disabled object”
(McClatchy DC — July 13, 2015)
In 2002, Chasity Phillips was diagnosed with incurable bone cancer in her chest; despite being terminally ill, she  has managed to live a rich, full life with pain management.
More on Disability Perspective

“Disabled rights advocates fight assisted suicide legislation”
(USA Today — June 28, 2015)
When he was 19, Anthony Orefice hit a telephone pole on his motorcycle going 100 miles per hour.  Doctors told his family he wouldn’t survive….As California legislators consider a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to get prescriptions to end their lives, disability rights advocates are speaking up in opposition.  They worry that if it becomes law, depression and incorrect prognoses may lead people with serious disabilities to end their lives prematurely.
More on Disability Perspective
More on California

“Why disability rights advocates oppose assisted suicide”
( — May 11, 2015)
Simply put, assisted suicide sets up a double standard, with suicide prevention for some and suicide assistance for others, depending on their health or disability.  If such distinctions were based on race or ethnicity, we’d call it bigotry.  The dangers of mistake, coercion and abuse it poses to old, ill and disabled people are rooted in a profound and still largely unacknowledged devaluation of our lives.
More on Disability Perspective

“Professor, do your homework,” disability group tells Singer”
(BioEdge — May 8, 2015)
Klein elicited from [Princeton Professor Peter] Singer the claim that government-funded health care should include rationing and that we should acknowledge the necessity of intentionally ending the lives of severely disabled infants.”
More on Singer
More on Disability Perspective

“Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Paradigm Has Pitfalls”
(ACEP Now — May 14, 2015)
POLST is a physician order.  However, it is often completed by nonmedical personnel and then signed by a physician and, in some states, by an advanced practice provider.  This process, combined with payer incentives, should raise one’s level of concern with the ability of the patient to fully understand the implications and provide informed consent.
More on POLST

Andrew D. Sumner, MD: “Physician-assisted suicide wrong, dangerous for society”
(Morning Call — April 24, 2015)
Physician-assisted suicide is the easy option for a busy, stressed or frustrated physician.  It also gives too much power to the physician.  He or she would become judge, jury and assistant executioner.  A physician could convince a patient that this is a reasonable step in just the way they describe their diagnosis and prognosis.
More on Pennsylvania

“Nursing Homes Are Starting to Supplant Hospitals as Focus of Basic Health Care”
(New York Times — April 24, 2015)
Changing Medicare and Medicaid policies and incentives, and new HMO-like accountable care organizations, are encouraging these practices. But there would be greater optimism if nursing homes were adopting them faster.

“Legacy of Hill lives on”
(Camp Lejeune Globe — April 23, 2015)
She was a basketball player — an athlete.  She scored legitimate points for her junior college. But more importantly, she scored a lot of points in life.
At her public funeral, her picture was adorned with a quote from Christopher Reeve — “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
More on Lauren Hill

“Coercion risk clouds euthanasia bill”
(San Diego Union Tribune — April 20, 2015)
“Perhaps the most significant problem is the deadly mix between assisted suicide and profit-driven managed health care…Again and again, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and managed care bureaucracies have overruled physicians’ treatment decisions.”
More on California
More on Cost Containment

“Assisted suicide would be fraught with problems and abuses”
(CT Mirror — March 6, 2015)
Led by a vocal disability community, opposition to assisted suicide cannot be reduced to soundbites.  Death is far too important for six-word slogans — like ‘My Life. My Death. My Choice.”  Instead, let us examine the real issues — the mistakes, coercion, and abuse that are inevitable and which cannot be fixed.
More on Connecticut
More on Disability Perspective

Position Statement on SB 676/ HB 1021, Death with Dignity Act
(The Arc — March 2015)
The Arc Maryland’s concerns include lack of protections, historic discrimination in the medical field based on perceived “quality of life” of persons with disabilities, and lack of treatment and other options….
More on Maryland
More on Disability Perspective

“Out of Pocket, Out of Control”
(Bloomberg — February 10, 2015)
Obamacare’s goal to expand access to health care has been only half a success.  More Americans have insurance, but a rise in cost sharing means fewer can use it. Copayments are a big part of the problem…22 percent of people now say the cost of getting care has led them to delay treatment for a serious condition.
More on Obamacare

“A safe place for abused seniors”
( — February 9. 2015
“[A] person who is vulnerable because they have physical or cognitive challenges may be reluctant to leave an abusive situation, particularly because the abuser is also the victim’s caregiver….[A]wareness of elder abuse is probably about 40 years behind where awareness of child abuse or marital abuse is.”
More on Maryland

“Diane Coleman:’s Letter to Some New Jersey Senate Democrats”
(Not Dead Yet — February 5, 2015)
The idea of mixing a cost-cutting “treatment” such as assisted suicide into a broken, cost-conscious health care system that’s poorly designed to meet dying patient’s needs is dangerous to the thousands of people whose health care costs the most — mainly  people living with a disability, the elderly and chronically ill….
When you look at assisted suicide based on one individual, it often looks acceptable.  But when you examine how legalization affects the vast majority of us, the dangers to the many far outweigh any alleged benefits to a few.
More on New Jersey

“We should think twice about ‘death with dignity'”
(Los Angeles Times — February 1, 2015)
As someone who supports all those other liberal causes, yet opposes physician-assisted suicide, I’d ask my fellow progressives to shine a cold hard light on this issue. We have been the target of a decades-long branding campaign that paints hastening death as an extension of personal freedoms….The movement is also pushing to expand the means of hastening death to include lethal injections delivered by physicians.
More on California

“As more hospices enroll patients who aren’t dying, questions about lethal doses arise”
(Washington Post)
His death certificate, which was signed by the hospice doctor, listed the cause as “renal cell carcinoma” or kidney cancer.  But the doctor had never examined Coffey, his family said, and medical records from just a few weeks earlier do not mention it.
More on hospice

“Euthanasia deaths ‘not easy'”
(British Broadcasting Company)
Attempts by doctors to help people suffering from fatal illness take their own lives failed to give an “easy death” in one in five cases, researchers say.

Previously Featured Articles

Have you heard about VSED?  
It stands for voluntarily stopping eating and drinking. VSED is being promoted by assisted-suicide activists who are also working to force health care providers to participate in it.  Important Questions & Answers about VSED

From the bookshelf…
Twenty years ago, Ann Humphry, the co-founder of the Hemlock Society (now called Compassion and Choices) committed suicide. Her death made headlines worldwide.

Prior to her death, Ann contacted Rita Marker, a staunch euthanasia opponent. Over time, the two became close friends, and Ann asked Rita to make public secrets about the right-to-die movement — secrets that had weighed heavily on Ann.

Two years after Ann’s tragic death, the book, Deadly Compassion: The Death of Ann Humphry and the Truth About Euthanasia was published. It recounts Ann’s personal story, the founding of the Hemlock Society, and activities of euthanasia and doctor-prescribed suicide advocates. Thousands of copies of the book were sold in the United States, England, Canada and Australia. (Read excerpts from reviews of the book.)

Now, for the first time, you can read Deadly Compassion in its entirety on line in PDF format.