N.H. “End of Life Study” Bill Advances Without Protective Language

The New Hampshire House voted 214-140 to pass HB 291, establishing a committee to study end-of-life care. Sponsors of the bill made clear when the bill was introduced that if passed, the study committee would consider assisted suicide as one type of “care.”

The House rejected an amendment from Rep. Barbara Griffin that would have prevented assisted suicide from being a topic in the study. The vote on that was 146-208.

The bill now goes to the Senate. No hearing date has been announced.

More background on HB 291 here.

House Vote Thursday: Don’t Let Assisted Suicide Be Part of End-of-Life Study

It’s back: here’s another bill to “study” end of life issues, introduced by New Hampshire legislators who are open about their determination to include assisted suicide in any such study. HB 291 is scheduled for a House vote on Thursday, March 14.

(Update, March 14: bill was passed without amendment.) 

The House Judiciary Committee majority voted ought to pass on the bill. A minority on the committee is recommending an amendment to the bill that preserves the intent of studying palliative and other end-of-life care, while excluding any possibility of the bill being used to advance assisted suicide.

I’m going to contact my representatives to support “ought to pass with amendment” on HB 291, using amendment #2019-0767h. The committee minority report written by Rep. Barbara Griffin (R-Goffstown) says in part,

The minority believes that the bill also sends a message of suicide being acceptable in a time where concerns on rising rates of suicide and work for suicide prevention are the focus of other bills and an existing Council on Suicide Prevention. Similar legislation has been before this body before and has been vetoed twice by [former] Governor Hassan. The minority believes this bill should be amended to focus the committee work on palliative and hospice care for the populations dealing with not only end of life, but also complex health and disability issues.

I’ve lost count of the pro-assisted suicide bills that have gone down to defeat or veto in our state. I say add HB 291 to that list, unless it’s amended to exclude assisted suicide as an item on the “health care” menu.

You can find your representatives’ names and contact information at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/default.aspx.

Physicians’ Group Warns AAFP Is Advocating for Assisted Suicide

In a recent email update from the American Academy of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, AAPLOG warned of a recent move by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

The AAFP, one of the largest groups within the AMA [American Medical Association], is now advocating for and, pushing for AMA to accept, Physician Assisted Suicide  (see AAFP reference committee report)  AAFP members should make their voice known NOW to AAFP  (also here for local chapters) and call for reevaluation and repeal of that recommendation.

Hippocratic physicians should also pay close attention to the situation in Canada, recently forcing all Canadian physicians to perform or refer for physician assisted suicide.  This decision was imposed on Canadian physicians through a Supreme Court decision, and not by public referendum, much as abortion was forced on the US population via Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton.  As is clear in both Ireland and Canada,  referral is a professional participation in the activity referred for.   Hippocratic physicians will not perform or refer for the destruction of their patients.

Please, take the time to click through on the links. Then, if you’ve entrusted your family’s medical care to physicians who are members of AAFP, you might want to ask them if AAFP is speaking for them.

I see this on the same day as I’ve listened to Kristen Hansen of the Patients Rights Action Fund speak about the illness and death of her husband, J.J. Hansen, and how they worked together to oppose assisted suicide as a way of coping with terminal illness. She carries on that life-affirming message even now. What a contrast to what some doctors are supporting.

The AAFP recommendation calls for treating assisted suicide as an ethical decision to be made within the doctor-patient relationship – meaning no oversight and accountability – and it calls for legal shielding of any physician participating in assisted suicide. It also calls for abandoning the term “assisted suicide” in favor of the term “medical aid in dying.”

Think about that last bit. Now you know what language will be in the next assisted suicide bill in New Hampshire. None is in the works, but that could change with the next round of legislative service requests.

And then there’s this from AAFP: they are resolved to be “neutral” on medical aid in dying.

Kind of like the New Hampshire Medical Society is neutral on abortion – “we take no position,” assures the kindly NHMS lobbyist – while showing up to oppose bills like informed consent and prevention of coerced abortions.

During one such hearing last year, the kindly NHMS doctor sighed and told the committee that he was afraid there were some people in the room who didn’t trust doctors.

If he thinks some people don’t trust physicians now, wait until assisted suicide enters the picture.

Palliative care can be complex – far more complex than a single prescription. Having a chronic disability means complex arrangements for appropriate support. Killing is always cheaper than caring. When assisted suicide is legally available, whoever’s paying the bills won’t have much incentive to encourage the use of palliative care by people facing a terminal diagnosis or supportive care for people with disabilities.

The AMA as a whole hasn’t caved in, yet. AAFP is only one group within the association. The Patients Rights Action Fund reported a bit of encouraging news just this week: the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs has recommended that the AMA continue to oppose assisted suicide.

Find more life-affirming inspiration in videos from the Patients Rights Action Fund.

SB 490 was gateway to assisted suicide, and the Senate just slammed it shut for now

(Updated to add link to recording of Senate debate and vote.)

On a 12-10 vote, the New Hampshire Senate has killed a bill that would have paved the way for assisted suicide. I did not see that result coming. Thank-yous are in order, including one I didn’t think I’d ever be writing.

Voting “inexpedient to legislate,” sending the bill into the trash heap: Senators Bob Giuda, James Gray, Harold French, Ruth Ward, Gary Daniels, Kevin Avard, John Reagan, Donna Soucy, Regina Birdsell, Chuck Morse, William Gannon, and Dan Innis. If any one of them had voted differently, today’s outcome would have been different.

Yes, that Donna Soucy, godmother of the unenforced buffer zone law. She was the lone Democrat to do the right thing on SB 490. She deserves thanks and respect for today’s vote.

And then there are the senators who wanted to keep the bill out of the trash heap: Jeff Woodburn, Jeb Bradley, David Watters, Martha Hennessey, Andy Sanborn, Jay Kahn, Bette Lasky, Dan Feltes, Kevin Cavanaugh, and Martha Fuller Clark. Bradley and Sanborn were the two Republicans favoring the bill, for those of you tracking such things.

Senators Sharon Carson and Lou D’Allesandro were absent.

Contact information for all senators is here.

The bill was supposedly about studying end of life choices. The sponsor tipped her hand when she introduced the bill in committee and went on to defend assisted suicide, while fervently denying that what she was advocating was suicide. Medical provision of lethal doses of drugs, yes, but not assisted suicide.  She tried to sell that position today, but 12 senators weren’t buying it.

I listened to the debate this morning as a theme gradually emerged: right to life vs. personal autonomy. Where I have I heard that one before? And then there was it’s-just-a-study. Riiiight.

The 12-10 ITL result was a good day’s work. It’s also a clear warning. Assisted-suicide advocates are going to come back in one guise or another, even though this year’s bill is dead. The lines of support and opposition for assisted suicide are going to look different from the ones regarding abortion.  Neutrality will only serve to support the assisted suicide advocates, who want the lethal prescription to be seen as medical treatment.

Maybe some legislators can be persuaded to change their position. Maybe some are adamant. You might want to look into that before the next election.

Celebrate the day’s work. Thank the people who voted ITL. Take a breath. Then be ready for the next round, whenever it comes.

Recording of the debate and vote, from the NH General Court web site: http://sg001-harmony.sliq.net/00286/Harmony/en/View/RecentEnded/20180109/1024

Go to Feb. 22 recording, click on Agenda tab, and scroll down to SB 490 at time stamp 11:09:27.

 

SB 490: “A Thinly Veiled Effort to Study Assisted Suicide”

Nancy Elliott wasted no time sending a message to the New Hampshire Senate committee considering SB 490, the “end of life” study bill. The bill’s sponsor made her assisted suicide advocacy clear in her own testimony, if not in her bill. Elliott, a former New Hampshire legislator who is now heads up Euthanasia Prevention Coalition – USA, responded with written testimony. It was published in full on EPC’s blog. Here’s an excerpt.

Nancy Elliott (photo by Ellen Kolb)

I am opposed to SB490 because it is a thinly veiled effort to study Assisted Suicide, also known as death with dignity, medical aid in dying, euthanasia and mercy killing, with the intent to legalize it in New Hampshire. Our state has a long standing bipartisan opposition to Assisted Suicide. This practice is discriminatory to the disabled and elderly, sending them the message that they are not as valuable as able bodied people. While young and healthy individuals receive suicide counseling, the elderly, sick and disabled are steered to take their lives.

I know this bill is for a STUDY, but studying things that would be harmful if passed is a waste of taxpayer money and runs the risk of giving legitimacy and momentum to this practice….I believe that this commission is dangerous to our citizens because the report that will come out, will indicate an imaginary mandate for Assisted Suicide.

Read the full post here.