18 Feb A Natural Death is a Dignified Death
From the Desk of Laura Bunker:
It’s that time of year again, when many state legislatures and parliaments are in session, grappling with thousands of issues from Abortion to Zoning.
This year a relatively new issue is making its way into governing bodies across the globe: Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS).
Ever since Brittany Maynard’s highly publicized assisted-suicide death in 2014, the movement to legalize PAS has gained traction in the United States, to the point where it is now legal in five states and is being considered” in 17 more. Some of these bills are entitled “Death with Dignity,” and others are called “End of Life Options Act.”
PAS has been legal in Switzerland since 1942, the Netherlands since 2002, Belgium (2002), Luxembourg (2009), and Canada (2015). In the United States, PAS is legal in Oregon (1997), Washington (2008), Montana (2009), Vermont (2014) and California (2015), with ongoing litigation in New Mexico, New York, and Tennessee.
Often described as a “compassionate” alternative to pain and suffering, PAS actually leaves behind a trail of negative consequences for families, physicians and societies. Today’s alert by UFI Intern Justin Romney discusses many of the concerns caused by PAS, including the reality of “suicide contagion.”
To clarify, PAS is NOT about removing artificial life support, or “pulling the plug.” As Justin Romney explains, “That is already an option. Everyone has the right to die naturally.” Virtually all medical professionals and courts of law respect these difficult family decisions and recognize that the removal of artificial life support is not assisted suicide.
PAS is when a doctor prescribes a lethal drug that a patient takes for the sole purpose of causing their own death.
We at United Families International do not believe that the way to end suffering is by ending the sufferer. Life is worth living! Even in suffering there can be found precious moments of meaning and value. People who are suffering with illness or pain need our presence, our patience, and our perseverance. We should support them, serve them, and share in their suffering. We need to help them find reasons to live, not reasons to die.
We invite you to read Justin’s article below to learn more about Physician Assisted Suicide and forward this email to friends, family, and elected officials.
United Families International, President
Physician Assisted Suicide: What does that really mean?
By Justin Romney
Bills like The End of Life Options Act have brought forth a lot of questions and misconceptions on what laws of this nature mean. The title of this bill has left a lot of representatives thinking that the bill is giving people multiple options on the deathbed, with physician-assisted suicide simply being one of the options. The most common concern we have seen as we have spoken with legislators is that they think every family should have the option to “pull the plug” so let’s start off by making this clear to everyone, this bill is not about “pulling the plug,” or removing artificial life support. That is already an option. Everyone has the right to die naturally. It is about giving a patient the option to take a deadly dose of medicine prescribed by a doctor after being told they have months to live.
The Argument for Physician-Assisted Suicide
Those in favoring of legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide or P.A.S. argue that the choice of how and when to die is a personal decision. Why should anyone be able to deny them that option to “die with dignity?” Supporters try to persuade others by saying this is the merciful thing we can do as a society to help others avoid the pain that may come and allow themselves to be in control. They say this will help families avoid incredible amounts of debt, save families the pain of watching a loved one suffer, and not prolong any suffering that may come.
The Problems with Physician-Assisted Suicide
There are many unintended consequences that may arise if P.A.S. becomes legal. Some of these concerns include suicide contagion, it’s not about pain, it has a profound impact on families and the doctors, and financial concerns.
Those in favor argue that this is a private decision and shouldn’t affect anyone else but the family, but recent studies have shown that this just isn’t true. A study published in the Southern Medical Journal reported that in states, such as Oregon, where P.A.S. has been legalized, the overall suicide rate has gone up by 6.5%. The suicide rate in Oregon is a staggering 41% higher than the national average. Allowing patients to use P.A.S. has taught society that suicide is acceptable and a means in escaping any pain that may come in your life.
It’s Not About Pain
Supporters argue that giving a lethal pill is a merciful option for those who are going to have to experience extreme pain in the last few months of their lives, but research shows that pain is not the major reason people choose assisted suicide. Of those who chose to end their life in Oregon by P.A.S., only 24.7% of them did so to escape the pain they would be enduring. 86.7% chose this path because they didn’t have the ability to participate in the normal activities they did from day to day that made life enjoyable. Family members and friends should not give them a reason to die, but instead, help them find reasons to live.
Impact on Families and Doctors
Supporters argue that this will help families to not have to endure watching family suffer so P.A.S. is the better option so that they don’t have to remember the suffering they watched. Once again research says otherwise; a Swiss study showed about 20% of respondents experienced full or partial post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to the loss of their loved one through assisted suicide.
Doctors take an oath when becoming a doctor stating: “I will keep [the sick] from harm and injustice. I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.” So it does not come as a surprise to anyone that when we ask doctors to break this oath it affects them as well. Fifty-Eight percent of doctors experienced feelings of discomfort following their most recent case of assisted suicide. Forty Percent experienced “burdensome” feelings. P.A.S. changes the culture of medicine; what were once tools for healing are now being used to kill.
Yes, it may be cheaper to let someone end their life than to help them live; but is that entirely true if P.A.S. is legalized. In Oregon if someone is given less than a 5% chance to live then Oregon Medicaid will only cover P.A.S. but no other services, leaving families (especially lower class families) that would never choose this option no choice but to choose P.A.S.
As you can see this is not just a private family decision that affects no one else, passing this bill will have unintended consequences that will affect our society as a whole and change our culture.
Ryan Anderson said it best: “Instead of embracing physician-assisted suicide, we should respond to suffering with true compassion and solidarity. People seeking physician-assisted suicide typically suffer from depression or other mental illnesses, as well as simply from loneliness. Instead of helping them to kill themselves, we should offer them appropriate medical care and human presence.”
Justin Romney recently completed his classes at BYU-Idaho and will soon graduate with a degree in Marriage and Family Studies. He is currently an intern for United Families International. Justin and his wife, Tiffani, have been married for 18 months.
© This material is copyrighted by United Families International