In 1997, Oregon became the first state to pass a physician-assisted suicide law. This came after the Oregon Medical Association changed its position from opposition to neutrality. 21 years later and after multiple failed attempts, the California state legislature approved the latest physician-assisted suicide law after the California Medical Association changed its opposition to neutrality.
The message sent-and received- was that if doctors themselves don’t strongly oppose physician-assisted suicide laws, why should the public?
Now the American Medical Association is set to reconsider changing its traditional opposition to assisted suicide to neutrality. This would be another, even more far-reaching disaster in terms of national impact.
For years, the euthanasia/assisted suicide activists of Compassion & Choices have successfully lobbied groups like the California Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, The American College of Legal Medicine, American Medical Student Association and American Medical Women’s Association and The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine to support legalized physician-assisted suicide or at least take a “neutral” position.
As a former home health and hospice nurse, I am particularly outraged that the latest organization to crumble to Compassion & Choices is the Visiting Nurses Associations of America.
According to its website, Compassion & Choices says that the VNNA had Compassion & Choices as part of the their Public Policy Leadership Conference “where they discussed their federal agenda for 2016 and the important role that members of the VNAA play in end-of-life care.”
With millions of dollars from donors to advance its agenda, a supportive media that ignores dangerous facts, popular ethicists who change positions with the polls and a legal system that has helped to undermine protections for the medically vulnerable, it may seem that Compassion & Choices is getting closer to achieving its goal of forcing doctors and nurses to supply medically assisted death on demand.
For example, a 2014 survey of over 21,000 American and European doctors responding to an ethics survey conducted by Medscape (a password-protected website for medical professionals) showed that-for the first time-a majority of doctors polled supported assisted suicide.
However, here are a few ways any of us can help turn around this dire situation:
- Educate yourself on the facts and consider joining others to publicly oppose medically assisted suicide/euthanasia in our courts, legislatures and media outlets.
- Demand that suicide prevention and treatment must be made available to all, not just the young and physically healthy.
- Ask your health care professionals about their position on assisted suicide/euthanasia and support only health care providers who will not assist suicide or refer for it.
- Discover and reach out to at risk individuals and their families who may be in your neighborhood or church. Loneliness and isolation can be debilitating.
- Consider volunteering at a local nursing home or facility. Some churches have even started programs to encourage church members to visit one hour, once a week with one patient.
None of us can afford to be neutral- or silent-when it comes to this life or death issue.