Assisted suicide would put our most vulnerable patients at risk


With the newly elected Virginia state legislature taking power in 2020, the debate over assisted suicide has returned to the General Assembly with a name change to disguise the real meaning.

The bill [Health Care Decision Making, HB 1649] introduced by Del. Kaye Kory, D–Fairfax, also intends to expand assisted suicide authority to nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

As physicians, we strongly oppose any effort to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Virginia or elsewhere. This also is the longstanding position of the Medical Society of Virginia and the American Medical Association.

Until January 2019, a bill to legalize assisted suicide had never even been introduced in Virginia—and for many good reasons. Where assisted suicide has been legalized, it undermines the physician–patient relationship, puts vulnerable people in danger, and is neither safe nor carefully regulated…

In Oregon, about half of the people who have died by assisted suicide reported feeling like a burden to their friends and family. When physicians prescribe suicide, it creates a culture in which these vulnerable people are viewed as disposable. These individuals deserve care and protection, not pressure and discrimination.

Where it is legal, some insurers agree to pay for assisted suicide, but not other recommended treatments.

In northern Nevada, Dr. Brian Callister tried to transfer two patients to other hospitals for lifesaving procedures. In both cases, the insurance companies denied his requests. Instead, company representatives offered to provide his patients with life-ending drugs available in California and Oregon.

Proponents also claim there are robust safeguards in the assisted suicide legislation to protect patients, but it is clear these supposed safeguards are woefully inadequate…

Read more at the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star…

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