News of the Day ... In Perspective06/21/2006
Assisted suicide causes problems, Senate told
Although the U.S. Supreme court upheld Oregon’s assisted suicide law, the U.S. Congress may make another attempt to overturn it. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) blocked a 2000 attempt by threatening a filibuster.
This May, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) called a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution to consider the “unintended consequences” to the “slippery slope of doctor-assisted suicide.” He worries that laws like Oregon’s “could actually create a financial incentive for insurance companies to encourage prematurely ending the lives of those who need long-term care.”
Since 1998, some 246 persons have used the law to end their lives.
Diane Coleman, president of Not Dead Yet, stated: “What looks to some like a choice to die begins to look more like a duty to die to many disability activists.”
Dr. Wesley Smith said that the effects of Oregon’s law are poorly monitored, as the state relies on physician self reports. Smith worries that the United States will follow the example of the Netherlands in moving from assisted suicide to euthanasia (Matthew Daly, newsreview.info 5/26/06, Steve Ertelt, LifeNews.com 5/26/06).
After reviewing the medical and public literature, as well as the state’s annual reports, Kenneth Stevens, M.D., wrote that some physicians participating in assisted suicide suffered adverse emotional and psychological effects.
Because of missing information in state reports, it is not possible to determine answers to questions about number of physicians participating, prescribing patterns, or whether some physicians changed their minds about future involvement in assisted suicide.
“There is evidence of pressure on and intimidation of doctors by some patients to assist in suicide,” Stevens wrote. “Some doctors feel that they have no choice but to be involved in assisted suicides.”
He warns that “there is great potential for physicians to be affected by countertransference issues in dealing with end-of-life care, and assisted suicide and euthanasia” (Physicians for Compassionate Care Educational Foundation).