Massachusetts Considers Assisted Suicide Bill

Assisted suicide is up for discussion again at the Massachusetts State House – for the eighth time, according to the Boston Herald. The Joint Committee on Public Health held a public hearing on September 26 on a pair of bills “relative to end of life options” (H.1194 and S.1225).  I went to Boston to stand alongside Massachusetts residents giving public witness against state-sponsored medically-prescribed killing.

Outreach

I was happy to meet C.J. Williams, a Brighton resident who’s director of outreach and education with Rehumanize International. We had connected online some weeks ago regarding the life issues. She greeted me outside the State House and introduced me to other people who had come to fight the bills. She then spent an hour calmly engaged in sidewalk conversations with people inquiring about the legislation, before she headed into the State House for the hearing.

C.J. Williams of Rehumanize International. (Photos by Ellen Kolb.)
Full House

The hearing room was full, with strong feelings and beliefs evident on all sides. Sponsors and supporters of the bills talked about safeguards, autonomy, choice, and “gentle passing.” That last term was offered by Dan Diaz, widower of Brittany Maynard, now an activist with Compassion and Choices. C&C is the current avatar of what was once the Hemlock Society.

Consequences

The hearing was scheduled to last all afternoon, and I was only able to stay for the first hour. One of the people I heard was Kristine Correira, a physician’s assistant, who warned of the threat posed to Catholic hospitals by the proposed law. She testified that the bills would require health care providers unwilling to participate in assisted suicide to refer patients to other providers – and to pay for the transfer – in violation of the conscience rights of providers opposing medically-prescribed killing. “Is it your intention to close down all the Catholic hospitals?” A fair question, and one which remained unanswered at the time I left.

The Boston Herald’s account of the hearing mentioned testimony from Timothy Shriver, son of the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics. “Beware the law of unintended consequences,” he said. People with disabilities are “vulnerable to the calculations of human values.”

The Hampshire Gazette’s coverage of the hearing included a warning from Jacqueline Rivers, executive director of the Seymour Institute on Black Church and Policy Studies, about the legislation’s potential effect on people living in poverty. “Poor black and brown people will be affected by the subtleties of societal pressure.”

The Gazette report continued, “[Rivers] said those communities are often underserved already when it comes to palliative and hospice care and the availability of physician-assisted end-of-life options might put pressure on poor families to make a choice not to spend money on treatment and care if this bill were passed.”

By any other name…
Posted in the State House hallway: bills are described as “aid-in-dying.”

On the way to the hearing room, I saw a notice affixed to a wall, pointing the way to the “Aid in Dying” hearing. The bills themselves are titled “End of Life.” One news outlet headlined its coverage with “…bill to allow terminally ill to end their lives peacefully,” while another went with “right to die.” I find “assisted suicide” a more apt term. There was no shortage of names for what was on the table.

At last count, six states and the District of Columbia have legalized assisted suicide.


 

Top ten posts, 2016: part 2

Leaven for the Loaf readers shared certain posts far and wide, making these five posts the most popular of 2016. (See yesterday’s post for numbers 6 through 10.)

#5: “Trojan Horse”: a veteran pro-lifer warns about an end-of-life study committee

Nancy Elliott (photo by Ellen Kolb)

When an end-of-life study committee bill (SB 426) was proposed in the New Hampshire Senate earlier this year, I asked former New Hampshire state rep and current Euthanasia Prevention Coalition USA leader Nancy Elliott about the legislation. What’s wrong with a “study”?

Photo by Jeanine Notter

Elliott noted that the bill as introduced “talks about end of life choices, but singles out ‘Aid in Dying’ – a  euphemism for assisted suicide and euthanasia.  It is apparent that the ‘choice’ that this bill wants to promote is suicide.  By rolling this into a commission stacked with pro-euthanasia people, this idea can be foisted on the citizens of New Hampshire.  It gives a platform for pro-assisted suicide/euthanasia advocates to have a platform to push this with.”

#4: Aftermath: roll calls of selected New Hampshire House votes

Last March, I compiled voting records for eleven life-issue bills considered by the New Hampshire House this year, offered a few observations, and gave a thumbs-up to the reps who were consistently pro-life.

#3: Book Review: “The Walls Are Talking”

The Walls are Talking (Ignatius Press, 2016)

Abby Johnson and the team at And Then There Were None have helped more than 300 abortion workers who have chosen to leave the abortion industry and seek other employment. Johnson and her co-author Kristin Detrow share the stories of some of those workers in The Walls Are Talking. 

“Abby Johnson gives fair warning in the preface to her new book: ‘This will not be an enjoyable read. It is a necessary one, however…’ She’s right on both counts. The Walls Are Talking gives former abortion workers a voice, and what they have to say is unsettling. ‘Settled’ is not how Johnson wants to leave anyone.”

#2: State Senate candidate Bill Gannon has notable 2016 voting record

Sen. (former Rep.) William Gannon (photo from NH House web site)

Yes, Rep. Gannon had a notable pro-life voting record – and now, thanks to the voters of state senate district 23, he has just been sworn in as Senator Gannon. Congratulations and best wishes to him.

#1: On the Democratic ballot for president, Henry Hewes offers a pro-life option

Henry Hewes (photo from electhenryhewes2016.com)

By the modest standards of this New Hampshire-based blog, the popularity of this post was truly remarkable. It was published in February and continued to draw readers throughout the national presidential primary season.

“A day before the New Hampshire primary, two major Democratic candidates are campaigning hard against each other. On one point, they’re united: absolute support for unregulated abortion. [Henry] Hewes does not buy it, and he’s willing to bring a pro-life message not only to voters in New Hampshire but to other states holding primaries. ‘The primary goal of my campaign is to raise a bunch of money to do pro-life education. My family is not preparing for a move to Washington, D.C.  [I want to] raise money to run pro-life ads that are not really designed or focused around getting people to vote for Henry Hewes, but around pro-life education, educating people to what’s going on and focusing their attention on the prolife issue.'”


 

Weekend reading, 6/17/16

Here are my favorite items from other blogs this week. Have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend!

Wesley Smith: Declaration Against Euthanasia; “I’ve signed. Have you?”

As California becomes the latest state to legalize assisted suicide, Wesley Smith urges defiance.

“The Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia has an excellent declaration that doctors and lay persons can sign….This is in accord with my urging doctors to hang ‘This is an assisted suicide free zone,’ sign in their offices. The proper response to legalized euthanasia/assisted suicide is total non-cooperation. I’ve signed. Have you?”

Read the full post and the Declaration. 

Danny David: “Congresswoman condemns fetal tissue procurement; ‘this is online shopping for baby body parts'”

Danny David of Live Action News reports on the latest from Congress’s Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, convened to investigate evidence that abortion providers are trafficking in the remains of aborted children. He quotes Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler:

“The Select Panel’s investigation revealed that the Procurement Business technician performs every conceivable task in the harvesting process, immediately after an abortion. For this, the procurement business is charged a fee by the clinic—even though the clinics are not incurring any additional costs in the process. Thus, they are making money off of this horrific act.”

Read the full post. 

Ryan Bomberger of the Radiance Foundation has the meme of the week…

I haven’t read Ryan Bomberger’s new book, Not Equal: Civil Rights Gone Wrong, but with a promo like this, I’m sure inclined to go find it.

 

Weekend reading, 5/27/16: target the mosquito, not the baby

I end each week by offering you three of my favorite recent posts from other blogs. Have a wonderful weekend, and remember why we observe Memorial Day. 

Chuck Donovan: “The enemy remains the disease-ridden mosquito, not the vulnerable baby.” (lozierinstitute.org)

Chuck Donovan of the Lozier Institute introduces us to blogger Ana Carolina Caceres, born with microcephaly. Concerns about how the mosquito-borne Zika virus might cause microcephaly in children exposed to the virus in utero have led to some calls for abortion as a solution. Caceres and Donovan point in another direction: access to treatment for microcephaly. “Born with purportedly grim prospects, [Caceres] is today an accomplished woman, who plays the violin and writes compelling prose. The world needs more people like her, and more people like her mother and other family members, who stayed calm and chose life. Similar to the global response to the polio crisis, the medical community should continue its fight against the Zika virus by refining treatments, decreasing transmission pathways, and ultimately developing a vaccine against Zika.” Read the whole post.


Jay Hobbs: Illinois Bill Forcing Pro-Lifers to Refer for Abortion Sent to Governor’s Desk (pregnancyhelpnews.com)

Business at abortion facilities is apparently so bad that abortion promoters want to co-opt pro-life pregnancy care centers into advertising for them. California has already gone this route (and is now in court over it). Illinois is on the same path.  “While pregnancy help organizations counsel clients and patients on such facts as the baby’s development, and the physical and psychological dangers of abortion, the proposed legislation’s inclusion of a requirement to counsel on the ‘benefits’ of abortion has also raised concern among pro-life opponents to the bill. Although the bill requires pro-life healthcare providers and organizations to participate in abortion, it does not include stipulations that healthcare professionals, institutions, or organizations counsel patients on alternatives to abortion such as parenting or placing for adoption. Similar government-sponsored speech for pregnancy centers has been struck down as unconstitutional in Austin (TX), Baltimore and Montgomery County (MD) and New York City.” Read the whole post. 


Alex Schadenberg: soon-to-be-released film carries better-dead-than-disabled message; “disability death porn”

“The movie Me Before You will be released in theatres across North America on June 3. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is urging its supporters to boycott Me Before You to not give any money to the production of movies that perpetuate the ideology that death is better than living with a disability. This is not a campaign to obstruct free speech, this is a campaign to oppose the ‘disability death porn’ that this movie promotes.” Read the whole post.


Advertisement

For Greater Glory

Oregon Public Health: a lot of unknowns in assisted suicide report

The Patients Rights Council newsletter provides a fine quarterly update on end-of-life legislation and its effects on people who are medically vulnerable. Their latest newsletter (viewable as a PDF) includes a summary of the most recent annual report from the Oregon Public Health Division about deaths prescribed and committed under the state’s so-called “death with dignity” act.

See page 3 of the PRC newsletter – and by the way, look at the data for “patients’ reasons for requesting assisted suicide” and see how far down the list you find “inadequate pain control” – and look at what the OPHD report doesn’t say. From the PRC update:

“…it’s the ‘unknown’ statistic that is most significant. In 98 cases – that’s 74% of all the reported 2015 prescribed-suicide deaths – the OPHD doesn’t know if anyone was present at the most critical time in the whole assisted suicide process, when the patient takes the lethal drugs. That means that the OPHD has no clue if the patient took the deadly dose voluntarily (as required by the assisted suicide law), or if it was disguised in food and unwittingly consumed by the patient, or if the patient was forced to take the drugs (the last two actions being clearly illegal).”

Public health, indeed.