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Misconceptions about Opposition to Assisted Suicide Expansion

A person holds their phone in one hand and a coffee cup in another. The hands are Black, the person wears green nursing scrubs with a name tag that says "Jennifer Martin, RN". They also wear a gray coat over the scrubs.
A Black woman holds her phone in one hand and a disposable white coffee cup in the other. She wears green scrubs and a nurse's badge that reads "Jennifer Martin RN." A gray jacket is visible over the scrubs.

Assisted suicide proponents are doing a bait and switch – they use “safeguards” to convince legislators to pass the bills only to strip away those same precautions a few years later. Proponents of assisted suicide in Washington state are doing exactly this, claiming there is a barrier to access the lethal drugs because of the meager ‘safeguards’ they promised would make the bill safe to pass in the first place. 

A Public News Service article claims that opponents are pushing back on Washington State’s expansion bill because changing it would undermine the 2008 bill’s integrity. This is a vague way of communicating the real opposition: expansion bills throw the safeguards out, making already unsound legislation even more problematic.

Power to prescribe 

One such expansion mentioned in the article is the widening of medical professionals able to prescribe lethal drugs to patients. The proponents’ concern is that there are not enough doctors willing or able to prescribe the lethal dose to the patients requesting. So, proponents want to make the pool of professionals broader, despite the fact that even physicians are more often wrong than right in prognostication, never mind medical professionals with less training and expertise.

The article claims opponents think this “diminishes the role of doctors.” On the contrary, expanding prescription does not degrade doctors but it elevates other medical personnel into a position they are not qualified to do under other programs, qualifying hospice patients for example, which requires a six month or less prognosis from a doctor– physician assistants and nurse practitioners are not permitted to provide this qualification. Giving even less qualified professionals the authority to write lethal prescriptions based on their best guess might make lethal drugs more available, but it is certainly not a safe or good medical practice. Data show that so many patients outlive prognostication by physicians that that is another reason to oppose assisted suicide legislation, as unreliable six-month prognoses are a basic qualification in these bills.

Shortened waiting period

Additionally, the bill aims to change the 15-day cooling-off period written into the legislation so patients have time to reconsider their decision to kill themselves. In Oregon, the shortened waiting period can be waived completely, resulting in same-day, state-sponsored suicides. How reckless when for so many patients, the desire for hastened death is fleeting and brought on by unmet needs and concerns, like feelings of being a burden on family and caregivers! 

Assisted suicide legislation is bad public policy to start with as it can never truly be written in such a way that some group of people is not disproportionately affected by the practice, which is discriminatory. But expansion bills are shamelessly irresponsible.

 

Read more: Assisted Suicide is BAD Legislation

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