Written by Sherry
Wednesday, 23 July 2008 08:20
Last winter, I happened to be seatmates on a flight to Colorado with a woman physician who was going skiiing. She mentioned that she had retired early to work on a campaign against a new attempt to legalize euthanasia in Washington State. I was very interested. being a native Washingtonian, and having worked on an oncology unit during the last such campaign in Washington State.
My unit was filled with former Catholics (i used to think that 12 years of Catholic school ending in total abandonment of the faith was a pre-requisite for getting hired there) but there was one remnant of their Catholic upbringing. Surrounded by patients who were likely going to die soon, these nurses were against euthanasia.
I remember a nurse telling me at that time: "I'm against it because I know who is going to have to actually do the deed - and it won't be doctors. It will be nurses."
So check out noassistedsuicide.com and send them some support. My friend Mark has posted this urgent appeal on his blog.
They have only been able to raise $ 100,000 so far to fight this initiative.
As Susan Harmon, director of No Assisted Suicide writes:
We know this because the supporters of the measure have labeled the campaign “Oregon Plus One.” Despite losing in 25 other states (including here in Washington in 1991), the proponents believe that if only one state besides Oregon would legalize Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS), the rest of the states will fall like dominoes.
Washington is a very liberal state. It is the only state in the union to have legalized abortion by a vote of the people prior to Roe v Wade. And the same arguments are being used to support I-1000. They claim that it is a matter of “choice”. And for the predominantly wealthy white men who advocate this, it may well be.
Yet there is word from Oregon that some of those who asked for the lethal dose of pills were being manipulated by adult children wanting their inheritance sooner. Not one of those requesting PAS was evaluated for depression in the latest 2007 statistics. And as to the rest, who knows--the Oregon law does not allow investigation of assisted suicide cases and requires the destruction of all records within a year, so it is nearly impossible to track who is requesting PAS and how people actually died.
I-1000 goes even farther. It actually re-writes the definition of suicide. It will require physicians to lie about the cause of death--they must ascribe it to the terminal illness that the patients did not have the chance to die from. Tracking use of PAS will be impossible. Neither will surviving families be able to sue unscrupulous doctors for malpractice;
I-1000 gives doctors prescribing PAS immunity from law suit. How is this good for consumers?
Even worse, families will not be notified if a loved one requests PAS. And as in Oregon, those who suffer from depression may not be evaluated first and treated. Anyone over 18 who is diagnosed as being 6 months from dying can request this--no questions asked.
Nor are there any safeguards to protect the poor from exploitation by heartless insurers. In Oregon, coverage of end of life treatment has been slashed while lethal prescriptions are covered as “pain management.”
What happens in places which have legalized PAS? Recently the London Telegraph reported on new legislation introduced in Belgium where PAS was legalized several years ago. The proposed legislation would allow teenagers to request PAS for themselves and for parents of handicapped children to ask for PAS for their minor dependents.
In Holland, which is the pioneer of the pro-euthanasia movement, doctors euthanize patients without permission. One physician told how he had killed an elderly nun because he knew that her religious scruples would never have allowed her to request this herself--so he did it for her.
In Oregon, people who voted for PAS are now getting nervous, contacting the pro-life physicians group to find out if their doctor is one of those who prescribes death pills. Pro-life doctors now hang signs in their waiting rooms which are meant to reassure patients that they will only pursue life-affirming therapies.
What happens in Washington state this year will affect all of us and our children and grandchildren.
Check it out.