They call it “medical aid in dying,” “dying with dignity” or “doctor-assisted suicide.”

Dying is terrible; why not make it easier with a doctor’s assistance? Why not put the patient in control, rather than the process? Vote for Prop 106 on this November’s ballot, they say.

But they aren’t telling you the whole truth.

Proponents of physician-assisted suicide aren’t telling you what really happens when euthanasia becomes legal. Our state’s most vulnerable – the terminally and chronically ill, the disabled, and the depressed, and their loved ones – will suffer more, not less.

If passed, Prop 106 will enable doctors to prescribe death-inducing drugs to adult patients deemed to have less than six months to live. Colorado would join California, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Belgium, Canada, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland which have assisted-suicide laws.

Proponents say that the initiative is narrowly focused on consenting, terminally ill adults. That’s how it started in Belgium and the Netherlands decades ago. Today thousands of adults kill themselves with doctor support and an untold number of disabled babies, sick children, comatose individuals, and people with dementia are killed by doctors without their consent.

In Holland, mobile death clinics make house calls. And one need not be terminally ill to purchase their services. Patients with chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, depression, autism, and blindness have committed suicide this way. One in 28 deaths in Holland is from doctor-assisted suicide.

Assisted-suicide laws fundamentally distort the relationship between doctors, insurers, and patients. Medical care is expensive. Suicide pills are cheap.  Where physician-assisted suicide is legal, a perverse incentive exists to offer the least care to the most vulnerable. It’s not surprising that many associations representing the disabled oppose assisted-suicide laws.

Even those who are not terminally or chronically ill are made vulnerable by these laws. Assisted-suicide laws increase the suicide rate in general because they affirm suicide as a solution. After Washington and Oregon passed assisted-suicide laws, the suicide rates in those states increased 6.3%.  If suicide is a solution for those with six months to live, why shouldn’t it be one for sufferers with more than six months to live?

Suicide is not the answer to suffering. Support is the answer. Hospice offers a life-affirming choice for both patients and caretakers. Hospice provides patients pain relief, physical comfort, and emotional support. Hospice enables patients to stay at home if that’s what they want. Hospice provides counseling and support for caretakers.

The idea that patients have no choice but to suffer endlessly in a hospital is false. Hospice gives patients choices about their care throughout the process of living and dying.

So when proponents offer suicide as a solution to suffering, recognize it for the poison pill that it is.

What are your thoughts? Do people have a right to ask their physician to help them die, or should we as a community protect the most vulnerable among us? Share your thoughts on Facebook.

Share This