Ten Reasons to Oppose Physician-Assisted Suicide
Compiled by The Family Foundation of Virginia
1) The "Choice" of Physician-Assisted Suicide Is an Illusion.
Laws allowing it are ripe for abuse. For instance, once the lethal prescription is handed to the patient, there is no accountability of what takes place next. A third party (including someone who stands to benefit financially from the patient's death) could administer the drug to the patient without patient consent, even if the patient changed her mind and struggled against the overdose. Laws do not require consent at the time of death, only consent to obtain the lethal prescription - a distinction which can give someone other the patient the power to decide when death occurs. In reality, there is no protected "choice" as proponents claim.
2) Physician-Assisted Suicide Is Not A Private, Personal Act.
Doctor prescribed death involves more than the patient. It necessitates a host of participants, including a doctor, a pharmacist and the state. It's a public act that requires medicine, law and society approve a lethal prescription that crosses the line between caring and killing. Significant issues of conscience are implicated for all the parties directly or indirectly involved.
3) Acceptance of Physician-Assisted Suicide Sends the Message that Some Lives Are Not Worth Living.
Social acceptance of physician-assisted suicide tells elderly, disabled and dependent citizens that their lives are not valuable. Doctors who list death by assisted suicide among the medical options for a terminally or chronically ill patient communicate hopelessness, not compassion.
4) Physician-Assisted Suicide Creates Legal Opportunity for Hidden Elder Abuse.
Elder financial abuse is a documented fact, costing victims an estimated $2.6 billion each year and can serve as a catalyst for other types of elder abuse. Society-approved death puts elders at greater risk for abuse through include being coerced, pressured or even forced into suicide.
5) Doctor Prescribed Death Compounds the Discrimination Experienced by People with Disabilities.
Disability rights groups are some of the strongest voices against physician-assisted suicide based on the experience of their community. According to disability rights leader, John Kelly, "As people with disabilities, we are already on the front line of a broken, profit-driven health care system which will naturally see a below $100 prescription as a cheaper alternative to experimental [and life extending] drugs.“ What's to prevent a prescription from becoming the treatment of choice to offer terminally or chronically ill patients? Doctor prescribed death will always be the cheaper option.
6) The Practice of Physician-Assisted Suicide Creates A Duty to Die.
Suicide is not medical care. Escalating health-care costs, coupled with a growing elderly population, set the stage for an American culture eager to embrace alternatives to expensive, long-term medical care. The so-called "right to die" may soon become the "duty to die" as our senior, disabled and depressed family members are pressured or coerced into ending their lives. At a time when health insurance coverage is in flux for millions of Americans, discussions of legalizing doctor-prescribed death seems especially dangerous. In a dollar-driven environment, it's too tempting for death to become a reasonable substitute to treatment and care when medical coverage is uncertain and medical costs continue to rise.
In Oregon, at least two patients receiving medical care under the state-funded Oregon Health Plan report being denied chemotherapy but offered assisted suicide.
7) There Are Better Medical Alternatives.
Palliative Care specialist, Dr. Dan Maison, says, "One phrase that gets under my skin and breaks my heart is when someone says, 'Well, they told me there is nothing more they could do.' There's always more we can do." Regarding Brittany Maynard, ""Actually, we take care of folks like her all the time, and we're able to keep almost all of them very comfortable," he said.
8) The Practice of Physician-Assisted Suicide Threatens to Destroy the Delicate Trust Relationship Between Doctor and Patient.
Every day patients demonstrate their faith in the medical profession by taking medications and agreeing to treatment on the advice of their physicians. Patients trust that the physicians' actions are in their best interest with the goal of protecting life. Physician-assisted suicide endangers this trust relationship by making physicians actors in a patient's death.
9) The Foremost Purpose of the State Is to Protect Human Life.
This requires the state to proscribe acts that would intentionally and unjustifiably end human life. Personal autonomy, while an essential component of liberty, is not and cannot be absolute.
10) There Is a God, and He Alone Possesses the Authority to Determine When a Person’s Life Begins and Ends.
Every human life is sacred because he or she was brought into existence by a transcendent Creator who, by virtue of His position as Creator, reserves the exclusive right to determine the moment that each life begins and ends. Therefore, we should seek to protect and preserve human life from conception to natural death. American jurisprudence, as well as Virginia’s own Constitution, has always recognized that every person possesses certain rights bestowed upon them by their Creator, and that we also owe certain duties to that Creator. Section 16 of VA’s Bill of Rights even declares that “it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”