“Why 9News uses the words assisted ‘suicide'”
(KUSA 9News, Denver Colorado — August 17, 2016)
This November, you’re going to get to vote on an assisted suicide law in Colorado. Supporters of that law have asked 9News not to call it assisted “suicide.” They’d rather call it “medical aid in dying.”…. We have a duty to tell you about it in simple, direct language. That’s why we are not going to stop using the word “suicide.”
More on Colorado
Doctor-prescribed suicide advocates have collected more than 160,000 signatures to place Initiative 145, titled the “Colorado End-of-Life Options Act,” on the November 2016 ballot.
According to campaign finance records, the assisted-suicide advocacy group promoting the initiative spent $2.9 million for an ad buy in June and close to $344,000 to pay signature gatherers.
Under the proposal:
A prescription for a lethal dose of drugs would be transformed from a crime into a “medical treatment.”
Family members or health care providers and others could advise, suggest, encourage or exert subtle and not so subtle pressure on vulnerable individuals to request doctor-prescribed suicide.
More on Colorado, including text and analysis of the initiative.
Scroll down for more of the latest developments and featured articles
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.
- Intentionally ending patients’ lives becomes real for California medical providers
- NM Supreme Court rules assisted-suicide ban constitutional
- The Worst MDs Free to Be Suicide Doctors
- A divided Canada passes and implements its new “medical assistance in dying” law
- Compassion & Choices loses big in NY court, not in the legislature – yet
- Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the US
- Only 5% of terminally ill cancer patients understand their prognosis
- News briefs from home & abroad
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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
Washington State Releases 7th Annual Report on Doctor-Prescribed Suicide (8/16)
- 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)
- 71% of patients who received the lethal prescription had only Medicare 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 52% of patients, Pentobarbital for 1% and Phenobarbital for 46% of patients. (p. 8)
- The duration of the physician-patient relationship ranged from less than 1 week to 2 years. (p. 8)
- Patients who died of doctor-prescribed suicide ranged in age from 20 to 97 years old (p. 1).
More on Washington, including full text of Seventh annual report
“Assisted suicide initiative makes Colorado ballot”
(Colorado Springs Gazette — August 15, 2016)
An initiative allowing doctors to give lethal drugs to terminally ill patient has made the November ballot, Colorado’s Secretary of State announced Monday.
Yes on Colorado End-of-Life Options spent $2.9 million to reserve TV ad time, campaign finance records show. It also paid a national company another $344,000 to help gather signatures.
More on Colorado
Vermont doctors push back against assisted-suicide requirement”
(Washington Times — July 21, 2016)
A lawsuit says that the 2013 assisted-suicide law, Act 39, has been interpreted in a way that, if medical professionals are not willing to help patients end their lives, then they must refer them to physicians who will.
More on Vermont
“New Mexico high court: Doctors can’t help patients end lives”
(Las Vegas Sun — July 1, 2016)
In a 5-0 decision, the high court overturned a previous district court decision that doctors could not be prosecuted under the state’s assisted suicide law, which classifies helping with suicide as a fourth-degree felony.
More on New Mexico
“British doctors reject neutrality on assisted dying”
(BioEdge — June 25, 2016)
A proposal for the British Medical Association (BMA) to adopt a neutral stance on assisted suicide and euthanasia failed by a huge margin (63% to 37%) on June 21. That marked the eighth time 1n 13 years that the BMA had debated the issue.
More on United Kingdom
Disability rights activists hailed the vote:
“Relief after doctors maintain strong opposition to assisted suicide.”
More on Disability Perspective
“Death Doctor to Charge $2000 for Suicide Prescription”
(National Review — June 5, 2016)
Lonnny Shavelson is — or was — a part time emergency room physician and photo journalist. Now, he’s going to be a death doctor for pay….
[H]e once witnessed what can only be described as a murder of a disabled man by a Hemlock Society suicide assister — and did nothing about it — as he reported beginning at page 92 of his book….
More on California.
“Stanford researchers ‘stunned’ by stem cell experiment that helped stroke patient walk”
(Washington Post — June 2, 2016)
The one-time therapy involved surgeons drilling a hole into the study participants’ skulls and injecting stem cells in several locations around the area damaged by the stroke. These stem cells were harvested from the bone marrow of adult donors. While the procedure sounds dramatic, it is considered relatively simple as far as brain surgery goes. The patients were conscious the whole time and went home the same day.
“Brain scans reveal hidden consciousness in patients”
(AP – Central Ohio, The Source –May 26, 2016)
A standard brain scanning technique is showing promise for helping doctors distinguish between patients in a vegetative state and those with hidden signs of consciousness….The researchers checked the patient status again a year later. They found that 8 of the 11 vegetative patients who had scored above the cutoff, which had been associated with minimal consciousness, had in fact recovered consciousness.
“Savino’s end-of-life bills: Cruel choices, deadly mischief”
(Staten Island Advance — May 16, 2016)
The latest proposed doctor-prescribed suicide legislation is titled the “Medical Aid in Dying Act.”
More on New York and text of proposed bill
[Note: As with SB 3685, one of New York’s previous bills, this latest bill (A10059) would not require that a person be a resident of New York to qualify for doctor-prescribed suicide. Therefore, if passed, New York could easily become a national suicide destination.]
“Cancer breakthrough: Duke clinical trial destroys SC woman’s brain tumor”
(WNCN television CBS — May 16, 2016)
The FDA is calling a clinical trial that killed a cancerous brain tumor (Stage 4 Glioblastoma) a medical breakthrough. Stephanie Lipscomb, now a nurse has now been cancer free for 4 years and considers herself cured. Dozens of patients responded positively to the trial and because of the success with Stephanie, the FDA has deemed the trial a medical breakthrough.
[Note: This was the same type of cancer that Brittany Maynard had.]
UNICEF Canada lobbies lawmakers to make “physician-assisted dying” (which includes doctor-prescribed suicide and euthanasia by lethal injection) available to children.
In its May 11, 2016 brief, UNICEF states,”In our view, this would be consistent with a cautious and balanced child rights-based approach to the question of medically-assisted death, having regard to the lessons learned in the Netherlands and Belgium.” It further notes that “in 2014, Belgium amended its legislation and became the first country in the world to remove any age restrictions on physician-assisted death.”
More on Canada
“Netherlands sees sharp increase in people choosing euthanasia due to ‘mental health problems'”
(Telegraph — May 11, 2016)
The Netherlands has seen a sharp increase in the number of people choosing to end their own lives due to mental health problems such as trauma caused by sexual abuse. Whereas just two people had themselves euthanised in the country in 2010 due to “insufferable” mental illness, 56 people did so last year, a trend which sparked concern among ethicists.
More on Holland
“Assisted Suicide MDs Would Never be Convicted of Fraud”
(National Review — May 9, 2016)
The Justice Department has convicted two doctors for falsely diagnosing patients as “terminal” to qualify for hospice care….The motive there was clearly money. But this same kind of false terminal diagnosis could also happen with assisted suicide as a matter of ideology…It already has.
More on Terminal Illness
“Medical errors may kill 250,000 a year, but problem not being tracked”
(Modern Healthcare — May 4, 2016)
A study published in the BMJ found that medical mistakes in the U.S. trailed heart disease and cancer.
More on Medical Errors
“Chambers promises to keep pushing for aid-in-dying law”
(Brown County Democrat — April 4, 2016)
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha filed a motion Monday to pull his aid-in-dying bill out of a legislative committee where it remains stuck. The motion won only nine of the needed 25 votes to bring the bill to the floor for debate.
More on Nebraska
“‘Remove organs from euthanasia patients while they’re still ALIVE'”
(Daily Mail — March 31, 2016)
Those who want to be killed should be sedated in hospital then allowed to die after the removal of their vital organs, according to the proposal published by a British-based medical ethics journal. Using organs for transplant surgery from patients who have been helped to die is allowed in Belgium and Holland….[A]n article in the Journal of Medical Ethics yesterday advocated “heart-beating organ donation euthanasia.” This would involve an operation in which organs would be taken from still-living patients who have given permission.
More on Organ Donation and Organ Transplant
“Oregon releases its 2016 ‘death with dignity’ stats”
(BioEdge — February 20, 2016)
Oregon is the model for assisted suicide legislation throughout the United States, so its annual “Death with Dignity report for 2015 deserves close scrutiny….For about 80% of the 132 deaths there is no information on how long it took or whether there were difficulties.
More on Oregon
Elderly Hospital Patients Arrive Sick, Often Leave Disabled
(Kaiser Health News- August 9, 2016)
Hospital staff often fail to feed older patients properly, get them out of bed enough or control their pain adequately.
More on Medicare
“Automatic sign-ups for Medicare Advantage coverage surprise seniors”
(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review — August 1, 2016)
Only days after Judy Hanttula came home from the hospital after surgery in November, her doctor’s office called with bad news: Records showed that instead of traditional Medicare, she had a private Medicare Advantage plan, and her doctor and hospital were not in its network. Neither the plan nor Medicare now would cover her medical costs.
More on Medicare
“Do patients pay when they leave against medical advice?”
Patients who are leaving the hospital against medical advice are often told by hospital staff that doing so will leave them liable for the entire bill because insurance will not pay if they leave against medical advice.
As described in a study, that is a myth, a medical urban legend, and one which is widespread.
“Drugs for physician-assisted death”
(Toronto Metro — June 12, 2015)
Complicating the issue is the fact that oral drugs that would be taken by eligible individuals seeking to end their lives on their own are not readily available in Canada, so doctors willing to help a patient die must administer the lethal medications.
More on Canada
Note: Canada permits both doctor-prescribed suicide and doctor-administered lethal injection.
(Townhall — April 21, 2016)
I get excellent medical care here. But as a consumer reporter, I have to say, the hospital’s customer service stinks….Customer service is sclerotic because hospitals are largely socialistic bureaucracies. Instead of answering to consumers, which forces businesses to be nimble, hospitals report to government, lawyers and insurance companies.
More on government Health Care Reform
“Are You a Hospital Inpatient or Outpatient? If you have Medicare — Ask!”
Did you know that even if you stay in a hospital overnight, you might still be considered an “outpatient?” Your hospital status affects how much you pay for hospital services and may also affect whether Medicare will cover care you get in a skilled nursing facility following your hospital stay.
More on Medicare
“Weak Oversight Lets Dangerous Nurses Work in New York”
(ProPublica — April 7, 2016)
New York lags behind other states in vetting nurses and moving to discipline those who are incompetent or commit crimes. Often, even those disciplined by other states or New York agencies hold clear licenses.
More on New York
More on Nurses
“Assisted suicide: An idea that loses appeal as it becomes tangible”
(Star Tribune — March 15, 2016)
SF 1880 is sponsored by a group of DFL legislators, led by Sen. Chris Eaton of Brooklyn Center, who claims that assisted suicide enjoys ‘overwhelming support” from the American public.
This is overconfidence. The truth about assisted suicide is that it 1) takes time to understand and that it 2) turns political stereotypes on their head…
But then something remarkable happened. The people of Massachusetts began to understand the issue.
More on Minnesota
“Dutch documentary awakens euthanasia debate about wider rules”
(Dutch News — February 29, 2016)
A recent Dutch television documentary on euthanasia in which a 68 year-old woman suffering from semantic dementia was given a lethal injection may well herald a turning point in what many consider to be an increasingly broader — and unacceptable — interpretation of the rules.
More on Holland
“Where the prescription for autism can be death”
(Washington Post — February 24, 2016)
Thus did a man in his 30s whose only diagnosis was autism become one of 110 people to be euthanized for mental disorders in the Netherlands between 2011 and 2014. That’s the rough equivalent of 2,000 people in the United States.
More on Holland
“Teen Survived Kalamazoo Shooting after Being Pronounced Brain Dead”
(ABC7 — February 23, 2016)
The hospital was in the process of preparing her organs for donation when the girl squeezed her mother’s hand.
More on Organ Donation
“Elder Guardianship: A Shameful ‘Racket'”
(Diane Dimond — February 20, 2016)
Betty Winstanley is a well-spoken, elegant and wealthy 94-year-old widow. And as she told me from her room at the Masonic Village retirement facility Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, “I feel like I am in prison. My life is a living hell.”
Welcome to America’s twisted world of court-appointed guardians for the elderly.
“Assisted Suicide Study Questions Its Use for Mentally Ill”
(New York Times — February 10, 2016)
[I]n more than half of the approved cases, people declined treatment that could have helped, and many cited loneliness as an important reason for wanting to die.
People who got assistance to die often sought help from doctors they had not seen before, and many used what the study called a “mobile end-of-life clinic”– a nurse and a doctor, funded by a local euthanasia advocacy organization.
More on Holland
“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
A bit of irony — or tragedy — in Canada?
Although Canada’s new health minister has acknowledged that there is evidence that only 15 percent of Canadians have access to high quality pain control, parliament has been told that special traveling teams should be available to deliver physician-assisted death to the country’s remote regions to guarantee that patients can have their lives ended.
“The sole survivor: Fort Lee woman beats the deadliest form of brain cancer”
(NorthJersey.com — 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.
“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
“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
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.