31 May A Win for Conscience
by Diane Robertson
Physician assisted suicide (PAS) proponents in the state of Vermont pushed for officials to interpret the PAS law to require all doctors either to counsel terminally ill patients or to refer them for counseling about assisted suicide. The state health department made counseling or referral for PAS an official policy for all doctors. The Department of Health’s Website ruled that, “If a doctor is unwilling to inform a patient, he or she must make a referral or otherwise arrange for the patient to receive all relevant information.”
The doctors who believed in their oath to never cause harm, balked at this interpretation. They wanted the freedom to continue to practice medicine without involving themselves in assisted suicide. These doctors contacted the lawyers with Alliance Defending Freedom and asked them to file a lawsuit in their behalf.
ADF thought the lawsuit a reasonable request—government enforcing anyone to be involved destroying the life of another human being sounded like a huge violation of constitutional rights. They filed the lawsuit.
The judge dismissed the case, and simply declared that the Health Department interpreted the law incorrectly. The good doctors of Vermont won the right to practice medicine while maintaining rights to their conscience.
What does this case mean? It means that proponents of assisted suicide not only want the practice to be legal, but that they want to take over the medical profession in a way that forces anyone who objects to PAS out of practice. It also means that judges, even in one of the most liberal states, are not going to go along with this for the time being. It means that the war is on for doctors of good conscience, but they are winning on the battle field.