Count the Cost of Denying Patients Assisted Suicide: Bioethicist

For more than 20 years Family Council has opposed efforts to legalize assisted suicide in Arkansas.

Last year we helped defeat a proposal to let doctors prescribe lethal drugs to patients.

One of the points we have made time and again is that patients, doctors, and hospitals may feel financial pressure to opt for assisted suicide, if it is legalized.

Last year a Canadian man with ALS made headlines when he chose to take his own life under the country’s assisted suicide and euthanasia laws after the government chose not to provide him with 24-hour home healthcare services due to cost.

In parts of the U.S. where physician-assisted suicide is legal, insurance companies have refused to pay for patients’ medical care, but have offered to cover assisted-suicide drugs.

Proponents of assisted suicide generally dismiss these concerns.

However, last week a bioethicist and a European professor published an article in which they actually argued that assisted suicide makes sense economically.

Writing in the journal Clinical Ethics, bioethicist Dr. David Shaw and Professor Alec Morton make three points:

  • Assisted suicide lets patients avoid suffering
  • The resources that would be used helping them could be used to help other patients instead
  • Doctors may be able to harvest organs from patients who opt for assisted suicide

The authors even go so far as to write,

For example, a patient who is in great pain because of cancer with a life expectancy of around two years will continue to require pain medication and support from clinical staff and also carers for those two years. For each such patient, legalising assisted dying would avoid this waste of resources.

There is so much wrong with these arguments that it is difficult to know where to begin.

For starters, we know from experience in other states that assisted suicide doesn’t actually help patients avoid suffering.

In fact, most people who inquire about assisted suicide generally are not concerned about pain or suffering.

Many of them are lonely and feel like they are losing control over their lives because of their illness. They need counseling — not a prescription for lethal drugs.

Second, you cannot place a dollar value on human life — but that is exactly where this type of thinking leads.

Being pro-life means believing human life is sacred from conception until natural death.

Just like abortion, euthanasia and assisted-suicide are murder, and they violate the sanctity of human life.

Canadian Officials Pledge to Expand Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide

Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau has promised to ease restrictions on assisted suicide and euthanasia in that country following recent rulings from Canada’s courts.

In September, a judge in Canada struck down a provision requiring people who request lethal injection to be near the point of death.

This will make it easier for people to opt for assisted suicide in Canada.

The pro-euthanasia lobby also reportedly is asking Canadian officials to ease restrictions that protect people from being euthanized against their will.

Life Site News reports,

The recent euthanasia data from Québec indicated that there were 1,331 euthanasia deaths between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019. The data also indicated that 13 of the deaths did not fulfill the qualifications of the law, including three euthanasia deaths for hip fractures.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia kill about as many Canadians as car accidents do.

We’ve seen instances in which people have opted for lethal injection because Canadian healthcare was too expensive.

Last year Canada’s largest children’s hospital drafted a policy that could let children be euthanized without parental consent.

All of this is happening despite the fact that research out of Canada and the U.S. shows that people who inquire about assisted suicide and lethal injection generally aren’t concerned about pain and suffering from a terminal illness.

Since 1998, more than 90% of the people who inquired about assisted suicide in Oregon said they were concerned about losing their autonomy. Nearly 75% expressed worries about losing their dignity. Only about one in four said they were concerned about controlling their pain.

Being pro-life means believing human life is sacred from conception until natural death, and it means opposing the taking of human life without just cause.

Just like abortion, euthanasia and assisted-suicide are murder, and they violate the sanctity of human life.

Pro-Suicide Group Helps Dementia Patients Request Starvation

On Monday one of the nation’s leading supporters of physician-assisted suicide released a new online “tool” that helps dementia patients request in writing to be denied food and water.

The new online tool from Compassion & Choices — the pro-suicide group formerly known as the Hemlock Society — helps dementia patients create what some call “an aggressive advance directive” they can add to their other medical documents.

The document can be created in just a few minutes via the Compassion & Choices website. It lets patients ask to be starved to death in various situations, such as,

  • When they can no longer dress themselves
  • When they can no longer communicate
  • When they no longer recognize people
  • Even if some of their symptoms can be managed with medication

Most doctors do not believe it’s ethical to starve a patient to death simply because he or she needs help buttoning a shirt.

Perhaps that’s why Compassion & Choices also has rolled out a tool that patients and caregivers can use to screen doctors to ensure that the doctor will follow the aggressive advance directive.

Obviously, this “tool” could be used to circumvent laws against physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in states like Arkansas.

There are several problems with instructing doctors and caregivers to starve a patient to death once his or her illness reaches a certain point. Here are a few:

  1. There is virtually no difference between helping a patient end his or her life via physician-assisted suicide and helping a patient end his or her life via starvation.
  2. There are no safeguards to protect dementia patients from being coerced into completing or signing these documents.
  3. Once a document like this is created, it’s difficult for a dementia patient to revoke it — especially if the patient has difficulty communicating.

Earlier this year the state legislature soundly defeated a proposal that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide in Arkansas.

That was an important victory in the fight against assisted-suicide and euthanasia.

However, we need to watch out for backdoor efforts to bring assisted-suicide to Arkansas — like this new “tool” from Compassion & Choices.

As we keep saying, being pro-life means believing human life is sacred from conception until natural death.

Just like abortion, euthanasia and assisted-suicide are murder, and they violate the sanctity of human life.