End of Life

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"I will never give a deadly drug to anyone if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect."

—Hippocratic Oath

The statement above is the foundational moral principle of medicine, pledged by doctors for centuries as they attempt to cure and relieve suffering without injuring the patient. It's a principle being eroded by the movement to legalize physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. When combined with an impersonal and technological healthcare system, the movement to support physician-assisted suicide has proven lethal. Prescribed suicide is an immoral slippery slope that corrupts the doctor-patient trust. Put simply, it’s dangerous. And it’s not just dangerous for the physicians and healthcare workers, but it’s also dangerous for our country, our healthcare system and for every patient.

We are committed to providing the most up-to-date information on the legislative, ethical and medical aspects of the fight against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. We’ve compiled a variety of resources that you can use to educate yourself and others about this important issue. So get involved today: talk about the issue with your friends, write your legislators and send a letter to your local newspaper to let others know how important this issue is for your state and our country.

Specific Issues

Advance Directives

Whereas modern medicine has made available technologies that can prolong life, medical science alone cannot answer questions of whether life-sustaining technologies should be used in particular circumstances or whether such technologies are consistent with patients’ goals of care, values, and beliefs about health, life, and death.

Physician-Assisted Suicide

Since the time of Hippocrates, a fundamental tenet of medical ethics, a cornerstone of professionalism, and an expectation of the public, has been that those who profess to accept the responsibilities of providing healthcare do not deliberately kill their patients.

Current End of Life Related Legislation

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State Legislation

Brittany Maynard's decision to end her life in 2014 through physician-assisted suicide brought this topic to the forefront across the United States, and more than 21 states now have legislation pending in their individual state legislatures. We unite with other like-minded organizations to help stop the spread of its legalization throughout our country.

You can help stop its spread by joining in our efforts. Click on the individual states below to find out more about the status of each state's current legislation.

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Arizona

House Bill 2582 / Senate Bill 1384

In the 2020 legislative session, Arizona legislators introduced companion physician-assisted suicide bills (HB 2582 / SB 1384) the Arizona Medical Aid in Dying Act) as well as a separate bill, SB 1497, the Arizona Death with Dignity Act. The bills died in committee with no action taken.

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Connecticut

House Bill 5420

HB5420 was introduced in March of 2020 to legalize physician-assisted suicide. A public hearing was scheduled and then canceled, due to the Coronavirus threat." Link this site for HB5420.

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Florida

Senate Bill 1800

A physician-assisted suicide bill, SB 1800, the Death with Dignity Act, has been proposed for the first time in history; on March 14 the bill was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration."

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Georgia

Senate Bill 291 - Death with Dignity Act

The Georgia General Assembly is considering a physician-assisted suicide bill, SB 291, the Death with Dignity Act. The bill is in Committee. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Georgia state legislature suspended its 2020 session, and the bill will likely not advance.

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Hawaii

Our Care, Our Choice Act

In the 2020 legislative session, Arizona legislators introduced companion physician-assisted suicide bills (HB 2582 / SB 1384) the Arizona Medical Aid in Dying Act) as well as a separate bill, SB 1497, the Arizona Death with Dignity Act. The bills died in committee with no action taken.

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Indiana

House Bill 1020 / Senate Bill 446

Indiana State Representative Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) introduced HB 1020, Indiana End of Life Options Act, on January 7, 2020. Representative Mara Candelaria Reardon has signed on to the bill as a co-sponsor. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Public Health. A bill introduced in the 2020 session, SB 446, would “prohibit euthanasia” in the state.

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Iowa

House Bill 2302 / Senate Bill 2056

A pair of physician-assisted suicide bills, 2156HF 2302, died in committee with no action taken.

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Kentucky

House Bill 224

HB 224 died in committee with no action taken.

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Maryland

House Bill 0643 / Senate Bill 0701

Companion End-of-Life Option Act bills, HB0643 (53 sponsors) and SB0701 (16 sponsors), were under consideration in the Maryland General Assembly. SB0701 was heard in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on February 28, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Maryland state legislature adjourned early and the bills did not advance in the 2020 session.

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Massachusetts

HB 1926 / Senate 1208 / Senate 2745

Sponsored by a total of 67 State Senators (20) and Representatives (47), S.1208/H.1926, the Massachusetts End of Life Options Act, advanced from the Joint Committee on Public Health on May 29, 2020, in an amended version, S.2745. The bill now moves to the (House Healthcare Finance).

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Minnesota

House Bill 2152

Groups of legislators in both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature are sponsoring companion physician-assisted suicide bills, both of which were referred to each chamber’s health committee. A informational hearing on HF 2152 in the House Committee on Health and Human Services Policy took place on September 11, 2019. Bill carried over to 2020. No action was taken.

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Montana

House Bill 284

Legislation was introduced in January of 2019, if passed HB284 will reverse the impact of the Baxter decision which did not legalize assisted suicide but allows it if the patient consents.

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New Hampshire

House Bill 1659

A physician-assisted suicide bill for New Hampshire did not advance in the 2020 legislation session. A House Committee referred HB 1659, the New Hampshire Death with Dignity Act, for further study.

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New Jersey

Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act

New Jersey’s Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act took effect on August 1, 2019 and is in effect. Qualified patients may request and physicians may prescribe medications under the law. New Jersey is the eighth jurisdiction to have a death with dignity statute. One in five Americans now live where the option is available. In the 2020 session, a group of legislators introduced a bill aiming to repeal the state’s new physician-assisted suicide statute.

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New York

Medical Aid in Dying Act 2694

The New York Medical Aid in Dying Act 2694 is under consideration in Assembly and Senate committees, co-sponsored by 40 Assembly members and 13 Senators. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the New York State Legislature suspended its 2020 session and the bill did not advance.

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Pennsylvania

House Bill 2033

A bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide was introduced in November of 2019 (House Bill 2033) which carried over to 2020.

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Rhode Island

House Bill 7369

Rhode Island State Representative Edith Ajello (D-Providence) is again sponsoring a physician-assisted suicide bill. H 7369, the Lila Manfield Sapinsley Compassionate Care Act, was introduced in the Rhode Island General Assembly on January 30, 2020. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate on February 4, 2020.

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Utah

House Bill 93

In the 2020 legislative session, Utah State Representative Jennifer Dailey-Provost (D-24) sponsored HB 93, the Utah End of Life Options Act. The bill did not advance.

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Virginia

House Bill 1649

HB 1649, the Virginia Medical Aid in Dying Act, a physician-assisted suicide bill, has been heard in committee and, at the request of the bill sponsor, continued to the next session. Carried over to 2021.

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Washington

Senate Bill 2419

In the 2020 session, a bill was introduced seeking to study barriers to using the Washington Death with Dignity Act (physician-assisted suicide) which would expand its practice of assisted suicide. SB 2419, in a substitute form, passed in the House of Representatives 67 to 31 and in the Senate 36 to 13. On April 3, 2020, Governor Inslee vetoed the bill citing the need for the state to conserve resources to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout.

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Wisconsin

Senate Bill 2033 / House Bill 552

Companion bills SB 499AB 552 carried over to 2020. Bills died in committee with no action.

Testimonies

John Pike, BS, PA-C, DFAAPA

21 Tuscany Hills Dr

Middletown, CT 06457

jrppac@comcast.net

 

Members of the committee.

 

My name is John Pike residing in Middletown.  I am the CT State Director for the American Academy of Medical Ethics.  www.ethicalhealthcare.org    I’m a licensed physician assistant, practicing at St. Francis Hospital the last 27 years, most of those years in the critical care setting.

 

I’m again testifying in opposition, this time to HB 5420 titled “An Act Concerning Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients”, a euphemism for physician assisted suicide.  Except for date changes, this bill is word for word the exact same bill that was introduced the last two years, and has been rejected by the public health and judiciary committees since 2013 after overwhelming opposition testimony.  Last year, Representative Steinberg stated that the bill would not be brought up this year given the short session and committee membership being the same, but here we are.  To date, the American Medical Association and American College of Physicians remain opposed to physician assisted suicide.

 

  • I, and others, have repeatedly appeared here to state the danger to physicians becoming complicit in the death of patients; danger to elderly and ill patients; families of these victims and our culture at large.
  • Additionally, a crucial and unchanged aspect of this bill is the requirement of the person signing the death certificate to put down the cause of death as their illness rather than the fact that they committed suicide – basically for the official signer to lie.
  • Last year I pointed out to the committee about the emergence of euthanasia in Canada from their “medical assistance in dying” enactment.  Just to be clear, this is called mission creep.
  • Assisted suicide in Canada was advanced a step further this last September after a Quebec Superior Court decision removed the provision that death must be “reasonably foreseeable” for euthanasia.  Now they are considering extending this dangerous law to mature minors and those suffering from mental illness.   Ladies and gentlemen, that’s mission creep!
  • Hawaii, which passed legislation two years ago, is considering expansion bills to grant prescription-writing authority to registered nurses, to allow consultation by telehealth and to remove waiting periods.  Ladies and gentlemen, that’s mission creep!
  • Since last year’s hearing here, the National Council on Disability released to the President of the United States its report documenting the dangers, biases, and flaws in assisted suicide concluding that “states should not legalize any form of assisted suicide or active euthanasia”.
  • Where assisted suicide is legal, it cheapens life and limits options.  The previously noted report by the National Disability Council states:  “when assisted suicide is legalized…. it immediately becomes the cheapest treatment.  Direct coercion is not necessary.  If insurers deny, or even simply delay, approval of expensive life-sustaining treatment, patients can be steered toward hastening their deaths.”

 

A month ago, the Concord Mirror in New Hampshire stated about a proposed physician assisted suicide bill that it “goes against the very essence of who we are as citizens… If we want to show that we value the lives of at-risk teens, the elderly, people with disabilities and veterans who have fought for our country, we should be focusing our energy on providing them with care, not with death”.

 

I have no doubt in my mind that Compassion and Choices, formerly the Hemlock Society, would like to wear you down year after year so that you will pass this dangerous law.  Please do not give in.  Do what is right and safe for society.

Written Testimony of Dr. Bill Lawton, June 25, 2019:

 

Testimony Opposing the End of Life Options Act (S. 1208 and H. 1926) before the Joint Committee on Public Health, June 25, 2019 at the Massachusetts State House. William J. Lawton, M.D. FACP

Dear Senator Comerford, Representative Mahoney and Distinguished Members of the Joint Committee on Public Health:

I am Dr. William Lawton, a doctor in Internal Medicine and specialist in kidney diseases and hypertension. I have cared for patients facing end of life decisions for 50 years. I live in Sutton, MA and am strongly opposed to legislation legalizing the End of Life Options Act (previously referred to as physician assisted suicide (PAS) and doctor prescribed suicide (DPS).

I have been privileged to present written testimony to this Committee in 2013, and personal oral testimony on October 27, 2015. At the time of my second oral testimony to this committee on Sept 26, 2017, I reported a major change in my health. In June 2017, I received the diagnosis of incurable Stage IV cancer of the pancreas and spoke with new perspective and commitment in my opposition to PAS. The two-year survival rate of stage 4 pancreatic cancer is less than 10%.

Since I am unable to be present at the Massachusetts Statehouse on June 25th to provide my testimony personally, I am providing my written testimony for you today. Since May 16, 2019 I have entered a new stage in my two-year journey with pancreatic cancer. I am now on hospice and palliative care.

Even with my daily battles with pancreatic cancer, I am grateful to be alive today! Over the past two years I have received excellent and compassionate care from Dr. Venu Bathini and the oncology and palliative team at U Mass Memorial in Worcester. Combined with the affiliation and care through The Dana Farber Institute, my life has been extended and progress is being made daily through research in the treatment of this aggressive cancer. During this challenging past month, I’ve appreciated the support and encouragement of the VNA Care Hospice team. Daily I have a new perspective as I think about the arguments made by proponents for the End of Life Options Act and am more resolved than ever that medicine, treatment, research and palliative care offer LIFE options that far outweigh providing pills to prematurely end life.

Over the past 24 months, I have experienced a life full of purpose, contentment and joy investing in the lives of my wife, our children, six grandchildren, family and friends from around the world. If my life had ended prematurely, I would have missed out on many special occasions and celebrations – grandchildren’s concerts and sporting events, holidays and birthdays. This past month I was able to celebrate my 54th wedding anniversary. Most of all I have had the privilege of investing in the lives of loved ones and passing on the legacy, wisdom and values important to me. There have been hospitalizations from the side effects of the treatments and suffering of the pancreatic cancer itself, but I truly value the quality time and am so thankful for the gift of life.

My final plea to the Joint Committee of Public Health would be to oppose legislation legalizing the End of Life Options Act. Great strides are being made daily in cancer research that instill hope for breakthrough in cures and improved treatment to provide longer, quality life for cancer survivors. Patients would benefit by additional support to strengthen education for end-of-life care in our medical and nursing schools and assure that palliative care and hospice are available to all in our Commonwealth, regardless of economic status, disability, race, or ethnic background.

 

Respectfully and gratefully submitted,

 

William J. Lawton, M.D., FACP
5 Point Way Sutton, MA 01590-1801

RESOURCES

Dangers of Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) in New Jersey (Physician Assisted Suicide)

Matthew Y. Suh, MD MPH

1. Describe the qualifications for the application of NJ Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) law, 2. Describe the historical perspective on physician assisted suicide (PAS), 3. Describe the current status of PAS legislations in the United States, 4. Describe the positions of major medical societies and organizations regarding PAS.

Download the PPT Presentation

Palliative Care or Assisted Suicide?

Michael Cheng-tek Tai, PhD

Fu Daren, a well-known sports anchorman of Taiwan Television Company for broadcasting NBA events, vehemently chose assisted suicide instead of palliative care to solve his suffering when faced with unbearable pain of a pancreatic cancer.
Download the PDF Document

Physician-Assisted Suicide: NOT Exactly What Its Proponents Advertise It to Be

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A.

The topic of physician-assisted suicide (P-AS) is a persistent one, especially when people are in pain or are worried about impending death. We need to think deeply and well about this issue.
Download the PDF Document

Things Are Not as They Seem

D. Joy Riley, MD, MA

Videos of Brittany Maynard, who ended her life on November 1, 2014, by physician-assisted suicide (PAS), have brought the discussion of PAS to national and even international levels.
Download the PDF Document

What’s Happening with Physician-Assisted Suicide

Jane Patton, RN

In healthcare the movement is at warp speed such that we can be like frogs in the proverbial frying pan, not taking to heart the implications of such rapid and significant change.
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Position Paper on Physician-Assisted Suicide

D. Joy Riley, MD, MA

On 19 September 2017, the Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee of the American College of Physicians released their position paper on physician-assisted suicide (P-AS).
Download the PDF Document

Medicine’s Schizophrenic Approach to Suicide

D. Joy Riley, MD, MA

A literature review cited by Medscape revealed a physician suicide rate of 28-40 per 100,000 versus a suicide rate of 12.3 per 100,000 for the general population.
Download this PDF

Helping Patients Live vs. Helping Them Die

D. Joy Riley, MD, MA

On Sunday, 28 May 2017, The Tennessean published a full page set of articles on the problem of suicide amongst the armed forces in our nation.
Download the PDF Document

What if we call it “Medical Aid in Dying”?

D. Joy Riley, MD, MA

In the aftermath of WWII, Leo Alexander penned the following as part of an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine: The Example of Successful Resistance by the Physicians of the Netherlands...
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MASS: No to Doctor-assisted Suicide

Dr. Mark Rollo - Sentinel Enterprise

Nine times in recent years, the death lobby has poured out-of-state money into Massachusetts in an effort to establish law that would simultaneously place the vulnerable at risk and corrupt the practice of medicine.
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We Should Walk with People Who are Dying, Not Lead Them to It

Opinion- PA Media Group

I think we should start by calling this process for what it is, as opposed to the term Death with Dignity. 
Visit this Website Article

Over 100 Patients Ended Their Lives in CA in One Year

Christian News Network

The California Department of Public Health recently released its 2016 data report, which provided information on the results of California’s End of Life Option Act (EOLA).
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The Effect of legalizing Assisted Suicide on Palliative Care and Suicide Rates

Richard M. Doerflinger, M.A.

As for end-of-life care improving “overall” due to legalization, findings published in the very journal cited by C&C suggest that the opposite occurred after the law took effect...
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Editorial: Nevada Should Reject Assisted Suicide Bill: Dr. Kirk Bronander

Reno Gazette-Journal

In the past 20 years, more than 175 state campaigns to legalize assisted suicide have been introduced.  Most have failed and continue to fail, even in some of the most progressive states across the country.
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First, Do No Harm: Worth Fighting For

Family Policy Alliance

People come to him seeking help for their medical problems. But what if instead of a prescription for health, he directs you to take a prescription for death?
Watch this Video

10 Reasons Why Physician-Assisted Suicide Should Be Overturned in D.C.

AAME

Eleven members of the District of Columbia Council decided in November 2016 to legalize assisted suicide, paving the way to providing DC citizens with lethal pills to kill themselves.
Download the PDF Document

Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare v. Hoser

Alliance Defending Freedom

The Vermont Board of Medical Practice and Office of Professional Regulation are reading the state’s assisted suicide law to require health care professionals, regardless of their conscience or oath, to counsel patients on doctor-prescribed death as an option.
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AMA Position on Physician-Assisted Suicide

American Medical Association

It is understandable, though tragic, that some patients in extreme duress—such as those suffering from a terminal, painful, debilitating illness—may come to decide that death is preferable to life.
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For Physicians, “Studied Neutrality” on Assisted Suicide Is a Cop Out

Wesley J. Smith

For years — decades, actually — euthanasia forces have tried to take MD opposition off the table by convincing major medical associations to adopt a position of “studied neutrality.” 
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Always Care, Never Kill: How Physician-Assisted Suicide Endangers ...

Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D.

Allowing physician-assisted suicide would be a grave mistake for four reasons. First, it would endanger the weak and vulnerable. Second, it would corrupt the practice of medicine and the doctor–patient relationship.
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Lessons from Recent Polls on Physician-Assisted Suicide

Dr. Frederick J. White, MD, FACC, FCCP

Physician-assisted suicide is an active political issue, and recent polls have indicated shifts in public opinion in favor of its permissibility and moral acceptability.
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