Saturday, September 20, 2014

Assisted suicide has broader application to people who aren't at "end of life"

I was, however, disappointed with the headline given to Friesen’s letter, which implies that assisted suicide legalization only affects people at the “end of life.” This is not true for at least two reasons.

First, in places where legalization has been proposed, “eligibility” requirements are not limited to people at the end of life. Consider, for example, Montana’s Baxter case where Compassion & Choices proposed legal assisted suicide for “terminally ill adult patients.” A formal opinion letter by Dr. Richard Wonderly and attorney Theresa Schrempp attaches a two-page copy of that proposal and states:
“Shockingly, this definition is broad enough to include an 18-year-old who is insulin dependent or . . . a young adult with stable HIV/AIDS. Each of these patients could live for decades with appropriate medical treatment. Yet, they are “terminally ill” according to the definition promoted by advocates of assisted suicide.”

Second, even if an assisted suicide law is limited to persons expected to die in a short time, there is the problem that predictions of life expectancy can be wrong. I have seen this in my own practice.

Consider also John Norton, who was diagnosed with ALS and told that he would get progressively worse (be paralyzed) and die in three to five years. He instead has a “wonderful life” 57 years later. His affidavit states:
“If assisted suicide or euthanasia had been available to me in the 1950s, I would have missed the bulk of my life and my life yet to come.“
Carley C. Robertson,