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.

Update: Sponsor Testifies Her “End of Life” Study Bill is About “Medically Assisted Death”

At the February 8 Senate Health and Human Services committee hearing introducing SB 490, Sen. Martha Hennessey (D-Hanover) spoke in praise of what she called “medically assisted death.” With that, she confirmed that her bill “establishing a commission to study end-of-life choices” would be open to concluding that assisted suicide is an acceptable state policy.

She strenuously objected to the use of the term “assisted suicide” to describe her bill or her goal. She used the words “medically assisted death” again and again.

I say call the bill what it is: a gateway to assisted suicide.

Some of the people at the hearing, including myself, weren’t sure what the Senator had in mind until she made her introductory speech. I give her credit for candor and for clearing up the mystery so quickly.

A representative of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester testified that if the bill had been what the title indicated, there would have been no cause for concern. In view of the sponsor’s words today, he said, it’s now a different story.

A physician, an advocate for people with brain injuries, and people concerned with disability rights testified about the danger of a public policy that treats suicide as a medical treatment. A young man with Down syndrome spoke against the bill: “Disability is not a fate worse than death!” He knew, as the other speakers opposing the bill know, that normalizing physician-assisted suicide will have far-reaching effects.

Sen. Hennessey professed mystification that anyone could see her bill as a threat to people with disabilities. I will not question her sincerity at this point.

A representative of hospice agencies testified with the disappointing news that after years of resisting proposals that could lead to assisted suicide, her group is now “neutral” on this bill.

No date has been set for the committee vote. The full Senate must act on the bill no later than March 22.

Another “End of Life” Study Bill for N.H.

Another end-of-life study bill is coming to Concord. This year’s version is SB 490, with a dozen co-sponsors led by Sen. Martha Hennessey (D-Lebanon). The hearing is Thursday, February 8, at 1:15 p.m. in room 100 of the State House.

I take as skeptical a view of this as I did of earlier “study” bills. Any end-of-life study commission that does not start out by explicitly ruling out assisted suicide as an acceptable policy will only serve to pave the way for an assisted suicide law.

In 2016, the last time such a “study” was introduced, sponsors tipped their hand by including the words “aid in dying” in the bill.  The 2018 version rectifies that tactical error.

I’ll keep an eye on this one.