Physician-Assisted Suicide Laws: Choice or the Perfect Crime?
BDF attorneys Nikolas T. Nikas and Dorinda C. Bordlee’s review of the actual text of state laws legalizing “physician-assisted suicide” reveals the following little known deceptions.
How Physician-Assisted Suicide Laws Facilitate the Perfect Crime:
- Lack of adequate safeguards from heirs being present and exerting coercion at the time the lethal drug is requested from the physician; some states allow heirs with financial interests to “witness” the written request and some states allow third parties to assert the patient’s “consent” if the patient unable to communicate.
- Lack of adequate safeguards at the time the lethal drug is “self-administered” or “ingested,” with no requirement for a physician or other healthcare professional to be present, and no protection against an heir coercing or deceiving the patient into ingesting the lethal medication (for example, by mixing it in food).
- The determination of “terminal within 6 months” does not require the physician to consider the patient’s life expectancy if he or she was treated; Chronic conditions such as diabetes are sometimes listed as the underlying disease.
- The laws have no requirement for mandatory psychiatric evaluation, leaving depressed patients vulnerable. In the 2015 Oregon report, of the 132 patients who died by lethal medication, only 5 were referred for psychiatric evaluation.
- The laws put cost over compassion for the disabled, poor, and vulnerable. PAS drugs are much cheaper than treatment, averaging $300.
Choice is an Illusion – Resources by experienced Washington State attorney Margaret Dore.
Heritage Foundation Report – Brilliant and comprehensive report entitled “Always Care, Never Kill,” by Ryan T. Anderson, PhD.
State by State Guide to PAS Laws – With links to the bill language and summary of the text. Six states and the District of Columbia have legalized physician assisted suicide: OR, WA, MT (via court ruling), VT, CA, CO, DC.
Contact BDF’s Nikolas Nikas or Dorinda Bordlee at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 751-7234 for pro-bono legal consultation or to arrange a live seminar.