The Corner

Health Care

Assisted-Suicide Advocates Oppose Real Protections

Assisted-suicide advocates sell their hemlock by promising “strict guidelines” to protect against abuse.

The thing is, the guidelines are never really “strict,” and they don’t offer much protection.

Convincing people of that can be daunting because it takes a lot of explaining. But something just happened in Maryland that illustrates the con in which the suicide pushers engage.

The usual kind of phony-baloney legalization bill passed the House of Delegates, but members of a Senate committee decided to add some — very soft — teeth to otherwise pretty meaningless guidelines. As a consequence, Compassion and Choices (formerly, the Hemlock Society) withdrew its support for the bill.

What were the protections C & C opposed? From the Baltimore Sun story:

Under the bill heading to the full Senate, a terminally ill patient with a prognosis of six months or less to live could request a prescription of fatal medication from their doctor. To qualify, the patient must:

» Be at least 21 years old, a change from 18 in the original bill.

» Have their diagnosis confirmed by their attending physician and a consulting physician. Those two physicians cannot be in the same practice or have a financial relationship

» Ask for the prescription three times, including once in private with a doctor and with witnesses.

» Undergo a mental health evaluation.

The senators also set a stricter definition of who would qualify, saying they must have an “irreversible” condition that affects their quality of life and that “within a reasonable degree of medical certainty” will result in death within six months. The original bill’s standard was “reasonable medical judgment” that the individual is likely to die within six months.

Doctors also would be required to give patients written information about treatment options that are available for their condition.

And the senators stripped a requirement in the original bill that would have shielded doctors from civil lawsuits related to prescribing the fatal drugs.

Don’t get me wrong. Assisted suicide should never be legalized. Dying people who ask for suicide should receive suicide-prevention services like all other suicidal patients. Their lives are just as important and valuable.

But when very modest additions to the usual “strict guidelines” pabulum — like the doctor having to provide written treatment options — are decried by activists as, “Too tough!”, the lipstick is off the pig.

C & C and I agree. Don’t pass the bill. Let assisted suicide die in the Maryland Senate.

Post Script: New Mexico just defeated assisted suicide. So did Arkansas. Let’s keep that string of successes going!

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