The increasing acceptance in Western society of death as the ultimate “cure” for physical, psychological, and emotional suffering threatens the most vulnerable and represents a disturbing corruption of the timeless role of physician as healer. Among the first victims of this ideological shift are truth and transparency, with illuminating data too frequently concealed and glossed over. Rigorous, publicly accessible data are crucial to holding policymakers and health care practitioners accountable for practices that jeopardize the weak and defenseless.

Current Bipartisan Opposition to Assisted Suicide

Caroline Savoie  

To view this paper as a PDF, see: Current Bipartisan Opposition to Assisted Suicide   Bipartisan legislation recently emerged in the U.S. House of Representatives against assisted suicide and for real health care for Americans facing illness and the end of life. The concurrent resolution H.Con.Res.80 expresses “the sense of the Congress that assisted suicide… puts […]

Basic Care, Human Dignity, and Care for Medically Vulnerable Persons

Bobby Schindler  

To view this paper as a PDF, see: Basic Care, Human Dignity, and Care for Medically Vulnerable Persons   Physical and cognitive disability should not mean one’s situation is considered “end of life,” yet too many persons who are not dying are described this way.   Earlier this year, Oregon’s state legislature considered a bill that […]

New York Court Rules there is no “Right-to-Die”

Charlotte Lozier Institute  

By Andrea Arellano, fellow at the Charlotte Lozier Institute.   This September, a New York State court unanimously decided on an assisted suicide case and upheld state prohibitions on the practice of physician assisted suicide.  The plaintiffs in Myers v Schneiderman consisted of patients with terminal diagnoses who, along with euthanasia-rights advocates, sought the establishment […]

Netherlands Forcible Euthanasia Case and the Slippery Slope

Eugene C. Tarne  

Proponents of assisted suicide often dismiss “slippery slope” arguments on the grounds that proper safeguards will assure that assisted suicide will not devolve into euthanasia, either voluntary or not.

Earlier this year, for example, Hawaii became another of several states to consider legislation to legalize assisted suicide (the effort failed).  During debate, one lawmaker who supported the bill dismissed concerns over where legalization might lead, saying “the inclusion of protections, such as euthanasia bans, helps allay the fears of critics who worry about the ‘slippery slope.’”

Charlie Gard’s Case and Parental Advocacy for Chronically Ill Children

Katherine Rafferty, Ph.D., M.A.  

“My biggest issue is this: a parent is a caregiver and then of course the health professionals are the caregivers, but you know, who gets the final say?”

-Mother whose daughter has osteosarcoma

This essential question was posed by the mother of one of 33 children living with chronic conditions whose parents I interviewed for my recently published study in the current issue of Health Communication. The study is titled, “You know the medicine, I know my kid”: How parents advocate for their children living with complex chronic conditions.

A Reality Check on Assisted Suicide in Oregon

Richard Doerflinger, M.A.  

In short, despite a thoroughly inadequate reporting system designed to cover up rather than reveal problems, Oregon shows exactly the problems that critics predicted: No meaningful protection against coercion, influence by others on patients with depression and dementia, an expansion beyond imminently dying patients, and a road toward active euthanasia.

The Effect of Legalizing Assisted Suicide on Palliative Care and Suicide Rates: A Response to Compassion and Choices

Richard Doerflinger, M.A.  

The leading national organization promoting legalization of physician-assisted suicide, “Compassion & Choices” (formerly known as the Hemlock Society), has distributed a December 2016 “Medical Aid in Dying Fact Sheet” in various state legislatures around the country to persuade them to approve what they call “medical aid in dying.”

Letter from Aaron Kheriaty, M.D., to American Medical Association in Opposition to Physician-Assisted Suicide

Charlotte Lozier Institute  

For almost a quarter of a century, the American Medical Association (AMA) has opposed physician-assisted suicide, stating that it is “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.” In strong language, the AMA has concluded that “permitting physicians to engage in assisted suicide would ultimately cause more harm than good” and that physicians “should not abandon a patient once it is determined that cure is impossible.”

Lessons from the Netherlands: Proceed with Caution

Tim Bradley  

The doctor asked the elderly Dutch woman’s family members to hold her down while the fatal dose was administered. The woman was suffering from dementia and had previously affirmed that she wanted to be euthanized “at the right time,” but the determination of the “right time” for her to die was apparently made without her consultation.

Proposal to Expand Euthanasia in the Netherlands

Tim Bradley  

In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to decriminalize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) for patients who meet criteria set forth by the law, such as that they endure “unbearable” suffering with “no prospect of improvement.” Now the Dutch government is pushing to expand eligibility to include individuals who have no medical condition but nevertheless feel that their life is completed.

Assisted Suicide Considered in the Nation’s Capital

Genevieve Plaster, M.A.  

On October 5, the District of Columbia’s Committee on Health and Human Services (HHS) will mark-up and vote on a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide. The so-called “Death with Dignity Act” (Bill 21-0038) would permit D.C. adult residents to request and be prescribed drugs to end their lives, if they are given a prognosis of six months or less to live. Last year, during a hearing on the legislation, the Director of D.C.’s Department of Health testified in staunch opposition as the executive witness, stating that the bill would “catapult the District into unchartered territories.”

A Time for Choosing in Colorado

Tim Bradley  

Voters in Colorado will determine whether physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is to be legalized in their state when they head to the polls this November. California, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont are the only other states that have voted to allow physicians to assist their patients in committing suicide. In Montana, the practice was legalized via a state court decision.

Give Me Liberty and Give Me Death?

Tim Bradley  

Death by euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is primed to take off in Canada, as Parliament passed Bill C-14 on June 17. The law, which establishes guidelines under which Canadians can receive assistance in killing themselves or be euthanized by medical personnel, received royal assent the same day. Royal assent can be supplied by the Governor General and does not denote approval by Buckingham Palace.

Oregon Health Report: Assisted Suicide Deaths at an All-Time High in 2015

Genevieve Plaster, M.A.  

According to the annual report from Oregon’s Public Health Division released in February, 132 people died from assisted suicide in the state – more people than in any of the 17 previous years and at a 26 percent increase from 2014.

Most individuals who died by assisted suicide were 65 years or older, either had no insurance or government insurance, and were not currently married.

States Consider Assisted Suicide in 2016 as New JAMA Study Raises Concerns

Genevieve Plaster, M.A.  

Already this year, at least eight states are considering bills to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Of these, Colorado, Maryland, and Utah have renamed their bills, formerly titled “Death with Dignity,” as “End of Life Options” bills – the name under which California legalized assisted suicide last October.

Yet, the deceptive title, which now eliminates all reference to death, seemingly seeks both to legalize and normalize assisted suicide as “just another medical option.” A new study published last week in JAMA Psychiatry, however, raises afresh ongoing concerns with assisted suicide, especially as it relates to those with mental illness or distress.

Assisted Suicide at the Polls: Risks & Rewards Associated with Voting to Legalize Assisted Suicide vs. Maintaining the Status Quo

Jacqueline H. Abernathy , Ph.D.  

This academic paper analyzes the significance of a legislator’s position in favor of assisted suicide. In particular, the paper looks at the risk associated with support for legalization of assisted suicide on subsequent re-election. This original work comes from the Department of Social Sciences at Tarleton State University, written by Dr. Jacqueline C. Harvey, a political science faculty member. This version of the paper is a conference abstract that was presented at the 2016 Southern Political Science Association Conference. The full version of the paper will be published in an appropriate academic journal at a later date.

Germany Bans “Business-like Assisted Suicide,” But New Regulation Reminds Us: Killing Can Never Be Safe

Jacqueline H. Abernathy , Ph.D.  

Switzerland has an unlikely tourist attraction — one where those who visit never leave — and it draws Germans to it more than visitors of any other nationality. It is called the Dignitas clinic, and Germans represent 44 percent of foreign-nationals paying the staff to help them commit suicide. This is more than double the next most common nationality of suicide tourists, British citizens, who constitute 21 percent of the euthanasia clinic’s international business. Death as a paid service is such a concern to the governments of Germany and the United Kingdom that both have recently voted on legislation to ban this practice. Britain overwhelmingly rejected killing outright this September with a vote of 330 to 118 against legalizing assisted suicide.

Germany, however, banned assisted suicide, but only when operated as a business.

A Plea for True Compassion: Against Assisted Suicide

Jacqueline H. Abernathy , Ph.D.  

On September 11, California legislators passed Assembly Bill X2-15, the “End of Life Option Act,” which legalizes physician-assisted suicide. If the bill is not vetoed by California Governor Jerry Brown within 31 days of its passage, the bill will become state law. Here is an open letter written to Gov. Brown by CLI Associate Scholar Dr. Jacqueline Harvey, Ph.D. urging him to veto the bill.

California Assisted Suicide Bill Passes Assembly during National Suicide Prevention Week

Genevieve Plaster, M.A.  

September 6 to 12 is National Suicide Prevention Week, and yet almost as if in a cruel joke, the California legislature has fast-tracked a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide in the state. Just yesterday, the “End of Life Options Act” (AB X2-15) passed the State Assembly by a vote of 44-35.

The bill now goes to the Senate for a vote this Friday, where it is expected to pass since the Senate passed a very similar assisted suicide bill earlier this year. That earlier bill stalled in committee. If the current measure passes, it would take effect in 31 days unless Governor Jerry Brown vetoes it. The Governor has not made any public statement on the bill, except that he was displeased at its introduction into his special session on healthcare financing.

California’s Assisted Suicide Bill Revived in Special Session

Genevieve Plaster, M.A.  

In mid-August, California lawmakers announced a second attempt to legalize assisted suicide this year. In July, a nearly identical bill, SB 128, died in the Health Committee. The proposed legislation, now revived as Assembly Bill X2-15 (the End of Life Option Act), was introduced during a special legislative session on healthcare financing, which will allow it to bypass the previous committee in which it stalled.

Last Thursday, AB X2-15 which was introduced into the special session by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), was referred to the Public Health and Developmental Services Committee. This 13-member committee is a smaller health panel than the original health committee in which the bill died, and does not include the handful of Democratic Members who opposed the assisted suicide bill in July.

Testimony of William Toffler, M.D. before the D.C. Committee on Health and Human Services against Assisted Suicide

Charlotte Lozier Institute  

On July 10, 2015 the District of Columbia Committee on Health and Human Services held a public hearing on proposed legislation B21-0038, named the “Death with Dignity” bill. Dr. William L. Toffler, M.D., National Director of Physicians for Compassionate Care, and a practicing physician in Oregon for over 35 years, testified in opposition to the bill.

California’s Assisted Suicide Bill Dies in 2015

Genevieve Plaster, M.A.  

Last Tuesday, a proposed bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide in California was shelved by its primary authors due to lack of support, and is unlikely to be voted on this year. Senate Bill 128, which passed the state Senate last month, would have allowed doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill individuals seeking to die. Democratic state Senators Bill Monning and Lois Wolk, who authored SB 128, pulled the bill from the Assembly Health Committee’s schedule of hearings Tuesday after it became clear that enough Assembly Members would not support it to allow passage. Among the opposed Members were a number of Latino Democrats, making up about a third of the committee, who spoke against the bill in the context of their personal experiences.

PRESS RELEASE: New Paper Warns Against Expansion of Physician-Assisted Suicide in the U.S.

Charlotte Lozier Institute  

As an increasing number of states weigh the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, a new paper released by the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) elaborates the arguments against the practice, citing numerous abuses. Award-winning author Wesley J. Smith examines how assisted suicide impacts the states and countries where it has been legalized, particularly legalization’s effect on medical ethics and patient care.

Assisted Suicide Is Not Compassion

Charlotte Lozier Institute  

In the United States as of March 2015, numerous bills to legalize assisted suicide have been introduced into as many as 25 state legislatures. In this timely paper, Wesley J. Smith examines the subject of assisted suicide and demonstrates how it is distinct from other medical end-of-life care. The paper outlines in detail the abuses of legal assisted suicide and euthanasia laws in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland as well as in the state of Oregon.

Study: More Than 1,000 Deaths “Hastened without Patient’s Explicit Request” in Belgium

Genevieve Plaster, M.A.  

In 2011, doctors gave then-22-year-old Matt Davis a 10 percent chance of ever waking up from his coma. After suffering a severe traumatic brain injury from a motorcycle accident, the doctors advised his wife of only seven months, Danielle Josey Davis, to end his life support. “They said if it was them, they’d pull the plug. That’s what they’d want their family to do,” Danielle Davis told ABC News this week. Three months later, her husband awoke from the coma. “I wasn’t going to give up,” she wrote on their GoFundMe page.

The hopeful outcome for the Davis family stands in stark contrast to a troubling new report on end-of-life practices in Belgium, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002. According to the report published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), potentially more than one thousand deaths in Belgium were “hastened [by a doctor] without an explicit request from the patient”…

Canada’s Assisted Suicide Ruling Opens a “Pandora’s Box”

Genevieve Plaster, M.A.  

On February 5, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) voted unanimously to strike down the blanket prohibition on physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and euthanasia that was in place since 1992. The ruling of Carter v. Canada is historic in that it would permit assisted suicide for psychological illness as well as physical.

Because the SCC has not defined or limited what can be considered “psychological suffering,” many are concerned that the subjective language of the ruling makes it vulnerable to abuses. The closest “definition” for either psychological or physical conditions is that it be “grievous and irremediable (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.”

Canada’s Supreme Court Strikes Down Existing Criminal Prohibition on Assisted Suicide

Andrea Mrozek  

In a decision today with serious international ramifications, Canada’s highest court has overturned an absolute ban on assisted suicide/euthanasia and has given Parliament one year to create a “stringently limited, carefully monitored system of exceptions.”

The decision was unanimous, 9-0, and it should be viewed as a victory for advocates of assisted suicide and euthanasia. The ruling chisels away at a prior understanding in Canadian law of human life—even difficult or painful life—as sacred.

In the policy interplay between the United States and Canada, Americans can expect that “right-to-die” activists will be very motivated to use this Canadian case as an example, just as Canadian activists pointed to the “success” of “aid-in-dying” laws in Washington and Oregon.

Holding, Listening, Rocking – and a Blessing in Turn

Charlotte Lozier Institute  

We deal with it fairly often. Or maybe not that often; perhaps it just seems more frequent than it actually is. But at least a couple times a year, at least for the docs anyway.

Pregnant women get sick. At times very, very sick. And I will forever be grateful for obstetricians and obstetrical nurses, because their job is a difficult one. Very difficult. Often a woman will come in needing an emergency delivery. And sometimes she will need to go to surgery and require general anesthesia. In most cases she will wake up soon afterward, but not always. Sometimes she does not recover. Sometimes she needs the ICU. And there are rare and tragic instances in which she never wakes up again at all.

Assisted Suicide in International Spotlight: Swiss Society Numbers Up, Australia Suspends Physician

Genevieve Plaster, M.A.  

Last week, an assisted suicide organization in Switzerland named Exit made the news with a report of an anomalous growth in membership. According to its vice president, a record number of about 60 to 100 new applicants poured in daily this July and August, instead of the expected lag in applications due to summer travel.  All told, […]

Belgium Expands Euthanasia Law to Include Children

Nora Sullivan, M.P.A  

On Thursday, the Belgian Parliament voted by a significant majority to legalize euthanasia for terminally ill children.  The new legislation will extend the existing euthanasia law in Belgium which decriminalized the practice for adults. The law will also legalize the practice to adults suffering from dementia.

Sick and Disabled Infants Starved and Dehydrated: Britain’s Modern Baby Doe

Jacqueline H. Abernathy , Ph.D.  

A news article entitled “Now sick babies go on death pathway: Doctor’s haunting testimony reveals how children are put on end-of-life plan” from the UK’s Daily Mail is commanding considerable attention to end-of-life care in Great Britain. The article cites commentary from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) by an anonymous physician, who admits that he/she oversees the […]

“Vegetative” Man Communicates Via Brain Scan

Nora Sullivan, M.P.A  

Earlier this week, the BBC reported on the story of Scott Routley, a Canadian man whom doctors have believed to be in a vegetative state for more than a decade.   The report revealed that due to breakthroughs in the field of brain imaging, Scott has been, remarkably, able to communicate with his doctors and convey to […]

American Nurses Association Opposes Assisted Suicide

Nora Sullivan, M.P.A  

The American Nurses Association has released a draft statement which comes out firmly against nurses’ participation in assisted suicide and euthanasia.  The American Nurses Association is a national organization which works to advance “the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the rights of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and […]

Massachusetts’ “Death with Dignity” Initiative: Questions Regarding Question 2

Jacqueline H. Abernathy , Ph.D.  

Download PDF here: Massachusetts’ Death with Dignity Initiative_Questions Regarding Question 2   The 2012 “Act Relative to Death with Dignity” goes before Massachusetts voters on November 6. Question 2 asks voters directly whether to legalize physician-assisted suicide (PAS) or uphold existing state statutes.  If voters affirm Question 2, Massachusetts would join Oregon, Washington and Montana as the only states in […]

Assisted Suicide in Oregon: Evidence of Missed Evaluation for Depression

Eugene C. Tarne  

As required by law, the Public Health Department of the Oregon Health Authority has released its annual report for 2011 on physician-assisted suicides under that state’s Death with Dignity Act (DWDA).     The 1997 law required physicians involved in an assisted suicide to file a number of  standardized forms, providing information on such particulars as sex, age, race […]