California’s Medical Association has dropped its longstanding opposition to physician assisted suicide. That’s a major league boost to SB 128, the 2015 version of a law authorizing medical murder. The Christian Medical and Dental Association remains opposed, as does the Association of Northern California Oncologists, the Medical Oncology Association of Southern California, and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. The much larger CMA finds its own membership divided, precluding outright endorsement. Yet, frankly, if every doctor in California favored the measure, it would still be right out of a lunatic nightmare.
The lies spouted about this bill are both legion and legendary. The Sacramento Bee devoted a recent front-page-above-the-fold “news” article to the topic. Dr. Tom Mazer, spokesperson for CMA’s policy making body, told the Bee that medical advances have extended people’s lives to the point many are surviving longer and suffering more, implying doctor assisted death is a matter of compassion. Reality is people who want to take their own lives find a way to do that. Just as real – as any palliative care physician can say – are the increasingly sophisticated ways to relieve suffering through non-lethal medical means. No one needs to lie around in agony begging for death, and those same medical advances are rendering formerly fatal conditions treatable.
Brittany Maynard, a California woman who suffered from glioblastoma, is the poster child for the assisted suicide juggernaut in California. She took her own life on November 1, 2014, in order to escape the horrors of this aggressive form of brain cancer, although she was experiencing none at that time. Within a few months of her death – and well before those debilitating symptoms would have set in – it was announced that this “untreatable” cancer is being successfully treated. On top of the reality that she need not have died – now or ever – from this disease is the disturbing announcement she made the day before her death that she had changed her mind. It was then announced she was “back on track,” and her death followed hours later. Are there safeguards against manipulation or even outright murder to make political points? We may never know the truth in Brittany’s case.
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We can know the truth in regard to this bill. The notion that a six-months-to-live prognosis – from two concurring docs – somehow protects against premature death is silly on its face; nobody can predict when death will come because there are too many variables – like patients rallying or dropping dead or the aforementioned cure for Brittany’s cancer – to do better than probabilities at best and guesswork at worst. (Ask an oncologist or a geriatrics doc; they deal with terminal patients more than anyone else.) Disability rights advocates correctly warn against unscrupulous caregivers with something to inherit and insurers who want to save their money. (Or has this not happened under Obamacare and our current VA system?) There are more hurdles to leap through on the way to death in the European nations with assisted suicide than in this bill, and the documented cases of abuse in those nations are enough to curl the toes.
By the way, there is no provision in the bill for a psychological evaluation; two doctors declaring a patient to be of sound mind is not a psych eval. And is it not interesting the Bee article features Brittany Maynard’s case but fails to acknowledge her death was completely unnecessary?
The biggest yawning chasm of disaster over this bill is the little matter of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, the one that says no American can be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process – procedurally and substantively – of law. If anyone imagines a piece of paper signed by a sick person – on medication – countersigned by two docs with no hint of a psych evaluation constitutes due process of law for terminating that person’s life, they need to repeat High School Government.
There is a blessing to be had here if the stampede toward a culture of death can be stalled. That would be to recall the words of Jesus Christ that He came to bring life and that abundant – and to defeat death once and for all. If we believe this word, we might decide to re-engage with the people we are called to love in their last days. We might keep vigil with them and make them comfortable while nature takes its course toward a miraculous recovery – at the hands of God-inspired medicine or equally-inspired prayer – or an end to life as that naturally comes to pass. Natural resolutions with medical support are always better for all than shortcuts to convenience.
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