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“RNs and CNAs Work Fewer Hours in Nursing Facilities that Serve Predominately Ethnic and Racial Minorities”
(Center for Medicare Advocacy — January 27, 2016)
A December 2015 Health Affairs study of freestanding Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) found that registered nurses (RNs) were less likely to work at nursing homes with high concentrations of racial and ethnic minorities….Racial and ethnic minority nursing home residents have not been receiving the same quality of skilled care as white patients and the consequences of this disparity have been significant.
More on Medicare
More on Minorities and the Poor

Scroll down for latest developments and featured articles below
List of states where bills have been proposed this year: 
2016 Doctor-Prescribed Suicide Bills Proposed

In addition to bills that had been pending in New Jersey, doctor-prescribed suicide bills were proposed in 2015 in more than twenty states.  For a listing of those bills, see “2015 Doctor-Prescribed Bills Proposed.”  For all doctor-prescribed suicide bills that have been proposed since 1994, see “Attempts to Legalize”.

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

The Latest PRC Update (2015 – Volume 29, No. 4,):

  • How California legislators strong-armed an assisted-suicide bill into law
  • British House of Commons puts California to shame
  • Doctor-prescribed suicide is never the answer
  • Washington State issues 2014 assisted-suicide death report
  • Canada prepares for court-ordered euthanasia & assisted-suicide legalization
  • Belgian euthanasia & assisted-suicide practices are beyond alarming
  • 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

“Assisted Suicide Bill Dies in New Jersey Senate: An important victory that bolsters opposition nationwide”
(Not Dead Yet — January 13, 2016)
“A bi-partisan group of New Jersey Senators took the time to listen to the disability-rights community and to understand why it is important that doctor-prescribed suicide not become law in New Jersey,” continued Democratic Senator Peter Barnes.
More on New Jersey

“Exclusive: Islamic State sanctioned organ harvesting in document taken in U.S. raid”
(Reuters — December 25, 2015)
Islamic State has sanctioned the harvesting of human organs in a previously undisclosed ruling by the group’s Islamic scholars, raising concerns that the violent extremist group may be trafficking in body parts.
More on organ donation and organ transplantation.

“Physician-assisted dying should be publicly funded: Expert advisory group”
(Toronto Sun — December 14, 2015)
While the group’s recommendations are not binding, they are expected to be influential as Canada prepares to act on a Supreme Court ruling that legalized physician-assisted dying across the country.
[NOTE: “physician-assisted dying” includes both doctor-prescribed suicide and doctor-administered euthanasia by lethal injection.]
More on Canada

“The dangerously contagious effect of assisted-suicide laws”
(Washington Post — November 20, 2015)
The debate over doctor-assisted suicide is often framed as an issue of personal autonomy and privacy….What if it turns out that the individuals who make this choice in fact are influencing the actions of those who follow?  Ironically, on the same day that Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide in California last month, an important study was published by British scholars demonstrating that legalizing assisted suicide in other states had led to a rise in overall suicide rates — assisted and unassisted — in those states.

“Brain cancer patient fighting assisted suicide bills in NJ & NY”
(my9nj — November 10, 2015)
In May 2014, J.J. Hansen was diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma, a rare, terminal form of brain cancer.  His doctor just gave him a couple of months to live.
J. J. worked for Governors Paterson and Spitzer and is a former Marine who served in Iraq.
“I have battled against terminal cancer and I’ve beaten it.  So, I don’t need to fight for myself; who I fight for are those who want to live,” J.J. said.
More on New Jersey
More on New York

“New assisted suicide law could criminalize doctors”
(The Local — Germany — November 6, 2015)
Under the new law, passed with 360 in favour our of 602 votes, assisted suicide remains permitted in Germany, but anyone who turns it into a professional service — with or without  payment — faces three years in jail.
In practice, this means that a husband who helps his terminally ill wife to die would not be prosecuted.
But an association or a business that repeatedly offered to help people die would fact prosecution.
More on Germany

Expansion of doctor-prescribed suicide to psychiatric cases now being promoted:
“The case for expanding physician-assisted death to psychiatric cases”
(Bioedge — November 7, 2015)
“The case for expanding physician-assisted death to psychiatric cases”
(Hastings Center Report — September-October 2015)

“Terminally ill New Yorkers lose lawsuit to overturn assisted-suicide ban”
(New York Post — October 20, 2015)
A Manhattan judge has tossed a lawsuit by three terminally-ill New Yorkers and five doctors who wanted to overturn a law that makes assisted suicide a felony…[T]he US Supreme Court has already found that New York state laws prohibiting assisted suicide are not a violation of civil rights.
More on New York

“Why not non-voluntary euthanasia for psychiatric patients?”
(BioEdge — October 17, 2015)
This is probably one of the first arguments in a major bioethics journal defending non-voluntary euthanasia.  The scenario painted by Varelius is limited to a narrow range of patients.  But is it a straw in the wind for other psychiatric patients and for comatose patients?

“California Doctors Get Advice On How to Provide Aid in Dying”
(KQED — October 12, 2015)
Compassion & Choices, the advocacy group that let the charge for legalization in California, is spearheading the education campaign.
More on California

“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

“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

Featured Articles

“When are you dead? It may depend on which hospital makes the call”
(Washington Post — December 29, 2015)
But there, under the bright lights of the prep room in the OR, Burns opened her eyes.  The 41-year-old wasn’t brain dead.  She wasn’t even unconscious anymore.  And doctors had been minutes away from cutting into her to remove her organs.
More on organ donation and organ transplantation.

“The sole survivor: Fort Lee woman beats the deadliest form of brain cancer”
( — December 13, 2015)
Nearly a decade after learning she had only three months to live, Sandy Hillburn grabbed a taxi last Sunday to LaGuardia Airport for one of her regular “business trips” to North Carolina.

“A fighter takes aim at assisted suicide”
(New Boston Post — November 30, 2015)
Doctors told the upstate New York couple that he had just four months to live….Today, 34-year-old J.J. Hanson’s cancer is in remission following aggressive treatment.  Now the optimistic Marine Corp veteran is fighting for the lives of others.

“Ten Percent of Elders Abused”
(National Review — November 14, 2015)
The NEJM warns that 10 percent of older Americans are abused….Know this. Assisted suicide legalization will lead to the ultimate elder abuse — pressured death, and all under the color of law.

“The vulnerable will be the victims”
(USA Today — October 20, 2015)
California required legislative sleight of hand to pass physician-assisted suicide in a special legislative session that bypassed committee votes…Oregon reports that pain doesn’t even make the top five reasons people seek doctor-assisted suicide.  Instead, people are afraid of losing autonomy and dignity.  Notably, they’re afraid of becoming a burden on others.
In the face of a youth-worshipping country that marginalizes the sick and dying, we should resist making the vulnerable feel like a burden — not make it easier for them to kill themselves.  Dignity doesn’t come from the illusion of power and control, but from mutual dependence and love.
More on California

“Suicide by any other name”
(USA Today — October 13, 2015)
“Right to die” proponents take advantage of human vulnerability, obfuscate reality of assisted suicide…But verbal cloaking is the stock in trade of the “right-to-die” forces. The Orwellian-speak they employ to describe their effort is telling. It is death by euphemism.
More on Verbal Engineering

“Oregon claim of assisted suicide safeguards has critics”
(CalWatch — October  9, 2015)
A key argument spurring Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent decision to sign a bill allowing physician-assisted suicide in California, and the Legislature’s desire to enact such a law, was that a similar law had worked well in Oregon…But what was rarely acknowledged in the California media is that the Oregon law — while wining positive notices from that state’s media — has a solid core of skeptics who complained of skewed or inadequate data backing up assertions that the safeguards work.
More on California
More on Oregon

“Governor should have talked to Holland before signing bill”
(Press Democrat — October 7, 2015)
By:  Theo Boer, Professor of Health Care Ethics at Kampen University in The Netherlands.
In 1994, the Dutch were the first in the world to officially legalize assisted dying…I was convinced that legalizing assisted dying was the wisest and most respectful route…Hearing of Brown’s decision, and without doubt any of his good intentions, my thoughts go back to our own pioneering years.  As I said, we have been naive.
More on The Netherlands
More on California

“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-four 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.