5 Problems with the End of Life Option Act

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  1. California’s End of Life Option Act does not require a psychological evaluation prior to receiving a prescription for aid-in-dying drugs. This lack of basic psychological evaluation and treatment constitutes medical negligence.
  2. The Act puts vulnerable individuals at risk. We can’t ignore the economic factors at work in medicine. For example, patients in Oregon have been refused life-extending chemotherapy by their insurance companies, who instead opt to pay for aid-in-dying drugs. There are forces at work that will pressure individuals and narrow their options, rather than expand their range of options.
  3. The Act communicates the message that under especially difficult circumstances, some lives are not worth living. This message will be heard by not only those with a terminal illness but also any person struggling with the temptation to end his or her life.
  4. The Act abandons vulnerable patients to lethal drugs. To abandon suicidal individuals in the midst of a crisis under the guise of respecting their autonomy is socially irresponsible. It undermines sound medical ethics and erodes social solidarity.
  5. The Act will undermine the ability of patients to get adequate medical care. Patients with a terminal illness are exquisitely vulnerable to any suggestion from their physicians, their health care team, and their insurers that they are becoming too expensive to care for, or too burdensome.

Do Assisted Suicide Laws Promote Suicide?

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  1. Assisted suicide laws communicate the message that under especially difficult circumstances, some lives are not worth living. This message will be heard by not only those with a terminal illness but also any person struggling with the temptation to end his or her life.
  2. Suicide rates constitute a public health crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is currently the third leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults and the tenth leading cause of death overall for individuals over the age of ten. Legalizing assisted suicide will worsen this crisis. It sends a message to teens and young adults that suicide is an appropriate response to difficult life circumstances.
  3. In October 2015, a study was published in the Southern Medical Journal showing that legalizing physician assisted suicide was associated with a 6.3% increase in total suicides, including assisted suicides.[1] The increase in total suicides among individuals 65 years and older was 14.5%. This is contrary to the assertions of Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, who suggested that legalizing assisted suicide “might actually reduce the number of suicides and postpone the suicides that occur.”[2]
  4. The “Werther Effect,” which refers to the increase in clusters of suicides after publicized cases of suicide, is well validated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Surgeon General have published strict journalistic guidelines for reporting on suicides to minimize this effect. Unfortunately, these guidelines were ignored in the case of Brittany Maynard, whose suicide was portrayed in the media as inspiring and even heroic.
  5. The number of deaths from assisted suicide in Oregon was 37% percent higher in October than the 2014 average. After Maynard’s death on November 1, 2014, deaths from assisted suicide spiked in November, rising 71.4% above the 2014 average.
  6. The overall suicide rate in Oregon has risen dramatically following the legalization of assisted suicide there. As of 2010, suicide rates were 35% higher in Oregon than the national average.
  7. Studies show that when an individual receives intervention during a crisis—for example, during the months of difficult adjustment after a new diagnosis of a serious or terminal disease—his or her risk of suicide is substantially decreased.
  8. Belgium and Switzerland, where assisted suicide is practiced, have the highest and second-highest suicide rates in Western Europe.
  9. In contrast to the “Werther Effect,” the publication of cases that convey a message of hope and perseverance in the face of adversity is associated with decreased suicide rates. This is known as the “Papageno Effect.”
  10. In the midst of suffering and decline we can still find courage, hope and even beauty. True compassion and mercy involve walking this difficult journey with our loved ones — a journey in which there simply are no shortcuts.

[1] Jones, DA and Paton, D. How Does Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide Affect Raters of Suicide? South Med J. 2015; 108(10):599-604.

[2] Posner, RA. Aging and Old Age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

5 Reasons Assisted Suicide Laws Are Wrong

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  1. Assisted suicide laws ignore the role of depression and anxiety in patients with a terminal diagnosis. Patients are not required to have even a basic psychological evaluation prior to receiving a prescription for lethal drugs. In California, terminally ill patients committed to mental institutions can request assisted suicide and be released so they can kill themselves.
  2. Assisted suicide laws discriminate against vulnerable patients, especially those who are poor or underinsured. Patients in Oregon have been refused chemotherapy, but their insurance companies will pay for so-called “aid-in-dying” drugs. Terminally ill patients are highly susceptible to even subtle suggestions that they are becoming too expensive or burdensome.
  3. Assisted suicide laws communicate the message that under challenging circumstances some lives are not worth living. This message is heard by not only those with a terminal illness but also by any person struggling with the temptation to end his or her life. Legalizing assisted suicide has been associated with a significant increase in total suicides.
  4. Assisted suicide laws encourage abuse by stripping those labeled terminally ill of essential legal protections. Deaths by assisted suicide are rarely, if ever, investigated. Patient death certificates do not state that patients died by lethal drugs, so law enforcement officials have no way of knowing whether a patient was coerced or forced into taking “aid-in-dying” drugs.
  5. Assisted suicide laws manipulate people by redefining terms. Per the statutory language, death by a self-administered overdose of barbiturates may not be not called suicide, but must be referred to as “assisted dying.” In California, patients seeking “assisted dying” are required to stipulate that taking lethal drugs will provide a “humane and dignified” death, even though the drugs frequently cause such side effects as vomiting and inhalation of vomit, severe anxiety or terror, extreme confusion, and gasping for air.

 

Life Legal has filed a lawsuit to stop California’s assisted suicide law. We represent six doctors—two oncologists, a palliative care specialist, a hospice physician, the associate medical director of a hospice facility, and a neurologist—as well as the American Academy of Medical Ethics, which includes 600 physicians in California.

Life Legal sued the California Director of Public Health and a District Attorney responsible for enforcing the Act. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has “intervened” in the lawsuit to uphold the End of Life Option Act, which means the Attorney General is now effectively a defendant.

Our lawsuit is opposed by “Compassion and Choices,” a pro-suicide lobbying organization that has received over well over $7 million from billionaire social engineer George Soros.

Please take a stand against the pro-death lobby by making a gift to Life Legal today! The next hearing in the assisted suicide lawsuit is scheduled for March 9 and we need your help to continue this vital litigation!

 

Trump Picks a Bioethicist for the Supreme Court

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“All human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong…Once we open the door to excusing or justifying the intentional taking of life as ‘necessary,’ we introduce the real possibility that the lives of some persons (very possibly the weakest and most vulnerable among us) may be deemed less ‘valuable,’ and receive less protection from the law, than others.” Judge Neil Gorsuch

Yes! This is why Life Legal exists–to protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us.

From The Atlantic:

“Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, is deeply interested in matters of life and death. His most lasting legacy from his time on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is likely Hobby Lobby vs. Sebelius, a case about religious objections to the rules on birth-control coverage in the Affordable Care Act, which later became a landmark Supreme Court decision.”

 

“Assisted” Killing in the Netherlands

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Appalling story from the Netherlands about a woman who fought to live as her family held her down to “assist” her “suicide.” This is why Life Legal is fighting California’s assisted suicide law. There are no safeguards in the current implementation of the End of Life Option Act to protect the vulnerable. #lifewithdignity

From Patheos:

“So called “Assisted Suicide” has been legal for some time in the land of tulips, wooden shoes and windmills.

The Netherlands legalized murder by injection seventeen years ago, and the numbers of old people, depressed, terminally ill and disabled who are injected goes up year by year. To date there have been about 5,500 deaths.”

Read more here.

The Netherlands Offers Euthanasia for Alcoholics

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When the “right to die” becomes the duty to die. Assisted suicide is a failure of society to care for the weakest and most vulnerable among us. It offers no compassion, no care, no solutions…except the final solution.

From Mercator.net:

“After eight years and 21 stints in hospital or rehab, Mark decided that he had enough. He had two children but his marriage had collapsed; his parents cared for him and he had plenty of family support, but he was unable to dry out.

Finally he asked for euthanasia. Physically he was quite ill and psychologically he was suffering badly. He met the minimum criteria for euthanasia in the Netherlands. A woman doctor in a black dress and sneakers arrived to give him his lethal injection. She confirmed his decision and then gave him three doses. He died quickly.”

Read more here.

Cardinal Dolan Calls for Renewed Fight Against Doctor-Assisted Suicide

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One more reason Life Legal is challenging the constitutionality of assisted suicide in California.

From LifeNews.com:

“Every suicide is tragic, whether someone is young or old, healthy or sick. But the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide creates two classes of people: those whose suicides are to be prevented at any cost, and those whose suicides are deemed a positive good. We remove weapons and drugs that can cause harm to one group, while handing deadly drugs to the other, setting up yet another kind of life-threatening discrimination. This is completely unjust. Our inherent human dignity does not wane with the onset of illness or incapacity, and so all are worthy of protection.”

Read the article here.

Rick Warren Targets California Assisted Suicide Law

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From CBN News:

“Life Legal filed a lawsuit earlier this year to challenge California’s assisted suicide law, the End of Life Option Act. The California Catholic Conference of Bishops has formally endorsed the lawsuit, stating that the act ‘fosters the unequal and inhumane treatment of an extremely vulnerable group of our citizens solely because they suffer from a life-threatening illness.'”

Read the rest of the article here.

 

A Conversation About Assisted Suicide

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JOIN LIFE LEGAL for a webcast featuring Bishop Robert Barron and Pastor Rick Warren discussing why assisted suicide is wrong and how to cope with difficult end of life circumstances in a way that respects human dignity and the sanctity of life.

Noted psychiatrist Dr. Aaron Kheriaty and Life Legal attorney Steve Larson will also be on the webcast to talk about Life Legal’s challenge to California’s assisted suicide law.

Click here for more information and to register.

Patient Said Insurer Encouraged Suicide

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Another reason Life Legal is fighting California’s assisted suicide law.

From The Gazette:

“As Coloradans decide on a dangerous assisted-suicide proposal, a California woman provides proof of our greatest fear. She wants treatment for a deadly disease, but finds herself at the mercy of a greedy insurance company that will only pay for suicide pills under the state’s new suicide law.”

Read the entire article here.

Terminally Ill Patients Don’t Use Aid-In-Dying Laws To Relieve Pain

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Yet another reason Life Legal is challenging California’s assisted suicide law.

Instead of helping only terminally ill patients in physical pain, assisted suicide laws are being used by patients in psychological distress.

From Kaiser Health News:

“It’s a bait and switch,” said Dr. Ira Byock, executive director and chief medical officer for the Institute for Human Caring of Providence Health and Services, based in Torrance, Calif. “We’re actually helping people hasten their deaths because of existential suffering. That’s chilling to me.”

Read the article here.

Elderly Woman Near Death When Life Legal Intervened

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Last week, Life Legal received a call from the daughter of a 93-year-old woman who was being deprived of nutrition and hydration in a Northern California hospital. Our team responded immediately by filing court pleadings demanding that the woman receive proper care. Life Legal attorney Terry Thompson then appeared before a judge to seek a temporary restraining order prohibiting the hospital from putting the woman to death.

We were successful in obtaining the order! The woman had been without food and water for three days and was near death, but she is now recuperating thanks to the efforts of the Life Legal team.

It should be noted that the woman does not have a terminal illness. She is able to breathe on her own. Yet the hospital believed it was within its rights to end her life without her consent or the consent of her family because she was elderly.

Life Legal provides guidance regarding advance healthcare directives to ensure that you and your loved ones are not deprived of life-sustaining care against your wishes.