Compassion and Choices marked the first year of California’s End of Life Options Act as a “huge success” and as working “remarkably well.” Over 500 “terminally ill adults” obtained prescriptions to end their life with about 80% of private insurance companies covering the cost of medication.
A Nevada doctor had insurance companies decline to provide treatment to two patients. Instead, the insurance company inquired as to whether the doctor had considered assisted suicide. As the doctor stated: “It’s a lot cheaper to grab a couple of drugs, kill you, than it is to provide life-sustaining therapy. Simple as that.”
Two days before his doctor-prescribed death, John Shields organized his own wake.
Yes, you read that right. First he decided to ask his doctor for medication to end his life. Then he decided to plan his own wake.
As reported by the New York Times, Shields’ story is one of many promoting the false narrative that doctor-prescribed death, also known as physician-assisted suicide, is humane and even heroic. Seldom do these media campaigns point out the ethical or moral issues involved. Or that there is a path to “dying with dignity.” Or that man knows not his time.
Other Side of the Story
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Dr. William Toffler shared his experiences as a professor of medicine and doctor in Oregon, stating that the law was not working well. He further shared his personal experience caring for his wife of 45 years at the end of her life:
While I treasure all of our years together, the last years of our marriage were among the best. There was great suffering but also great joy and meaning in the special moments we and our seven children shared together—moments that became all the more special the closer we came to the end of her life. I wouldn’t trade a nanosecond of those last years. She died peacefully and naturally at home surrounded by her family and friends. She never took an overdose, yet her death and life had great dignity.
State of the Law
California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, D.C. have granted doctors the legal authority to prescribe medications intended to end one’s life. Polls show significant support for these laws. Dozens of more states are considering legalization.
Thankfully, in Arizona, bills to legalize doctor-prescribed death are introduced each session but to date have not received any hearing or active consideration. States like Maine, Connecticut, and Massachusetts have waged incredible, successful campaigns to stop the legalization of doctor-prescribed death. Delaware is in the midst of the battle currently.
This issue is not going away. In the last legislative session, those advocating for doctor-prescribed death loudly opposed the CAP-supported bill to prohibit discrimination against health care workers who declined to participate in certain end-of-life treatments as violating their conscience.
Each one of us must be educated to understand the moral and ethical implications of these laws. At Center for Arizona Policy, we advocate for human life from the time of conception to the end of natural life.
In next week’s Five Minutes for Families, we’ll outline arguments against doctor-prescribed death and respond to the arguments in favor of its legalization.
We join the worldwide grief over the death sentence decreed by the courts for precious baby Charlie Gard in the U.K. Pray for his life to be spared and for the government to relent and allow the parents to seek treatment.
To understand more about this tragedy, we suggest the following from John Stonestreet and Wesley Smith: