Fallout from Physician Assisted Suicide

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on October 7, 2015

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As we’ve already alerted you, earlier this week Governor Jerry Brown signed California’s physician assisted suicide bill into law. Now we can only wait for the fallout to begin—as is well documented in places like Oregon and Washington where the practice is already legal.

In his statement in response, CBC Board Member Dr. Aaron Kheriaty observed, “Governor Brown is among the socially and economically privileged Californians who are least likely to be adversely impacted by this legislation—with access to the best healthcare and plenty of financial resources.”

An article in The Daily Signal outlines just why it is that the poor and vulnerable have the most to lose from this new legislation. As the article notes, Oregon’s state health coverage does not include important services and even some pain medication for many low-income individuals who are sick—but it will gladly cover physician assisted suicide. Or as another article in Public Discourse evidences, “Over three-quarters of those dying under Washington’s assisted suicide law were partly or completely dependent on Medicare or Medicaid.” Let’s not forget that California lawmakers rammed this legislation through during a special session dedicated to Medicaid funding—a telling indication of what was motivating this new law.

Advocates for this practice claim that they are only wanting to provide “death with dignity” to the terminally ill who are suffering and in need of relief. For an example of authentic death with dignity, be sure to check out a reflection by Mary Karner, a registered nurse, whose mother—a vocal opponent of physician assisted suicide—passed away last week.

She writes:

And the greatest honor of my life was to care for my mom in her last days. I hope and pray that her legacy will continue to inspire caring American voters to support those choosing to squeeze life for every drop that it has to give. Support hospice and palliative care programs that give true meaning to “death with dignity.” Let those fighting illness and disabilities know that they are precious, no matter what.

How tragic that this new legislation in California has enshrined into law a very different message.

Image by Kevinshine via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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