In my June, 2016 blog “Tolerating Evil” at , I wrote:
“(A) few days after California’s new assisted suicide law took effect, one doctor immediately opened up a dedicated assisted suicide clinic in San Francisco.
Dr. Lonnie Shavelson, 64 and a long-time supporter of physician-assisted suicide, was an emergency room doctor for 29 year and then spend 7 years at an Oakland clinic for immigrants and refugees before taking a 2 year break.
His new assisted suicide business could be quite lucrative. Although Medicare will not pay for assisted suicide costs, Shavelson says he will charge $200 for an initial patient evaluation. If the patient is deemed qualified under California law, Shavelson said he would charge another $1800 for more visits, evaluations and legal forms. (Emphasis added)
Shavelson defends his business by claiming that “..the demand (for assisted suicide) is so high, that the only compassionate thing to do would be to bring it above ground and regulate it.”
Now, a new medical group called American Clinicians Academy on Medical Aid in Dying has been formed with a Board of Directors and Advisors and chaired by the same Dr. Lonnie Shavelson.
The board of this organization includes a Nursing Coordinator, Director of End-of-Life Doula Education, a Volunteer Systems Advisor, as well as Hospice and Palliative Care Advisors including chaplains, nurses and social workers. There is also an “Aid in Dying Ethics Consultation Service”, ethicist, lawyer and pharmacists. An Investigations and Data Collection group is also included as well as State Liaisons in various states.
Also included is Resident Training and Education, Patient Liaisons and Volunteers, Chaplains and End-of-Life Spiritual Advisors, a legal advisor/ethicist, and a member of the San Francisco/Marin Medical Society with a Master’s in Public Health degree.
The American Clinicians Academy on Medical Aid along with the older Death with Dignity organization just had their second conference February 17-18 in Portland Oregon and provided “13 continuing education units for doctors and nurses” and 10 for social workers.
The conference included presentations like “ Some Myths about Aid in Dying”, “State Differences — Present and Future Legal Considerations”, “Hospices and Aid in Dying — A land of many journeys”, “Prognostic Dilemmas in Aid in Dying”, “Medical Aid in Dying for ALS: Navigating Complexities from Prognosis to Ingestion” and “Clinician Attendance on the Aid-in-Dying day — Doctors, nurses, volunteers, end-of-life doulas, hospice staff” and “Socially-Challenging Settings and Circumstances — homeless and impoverished; family conflicts; skilled nursing and long-term care facilities” and “Medically Challenging Cases: Complex gut function; Self-administration by oral, rectal, PEG and ostomy routes” presented by Dr. Shavelson himself. (All emphasis added)
The first National Clinicians Conference on Medical Aid in Dying occurred in 2020 at UC Berkley in California. It was sponsored by groups like UC Davis Health, Mission Hospice and Home Care, the San Francisco Marin Medical Society and the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado that promotes “Research at the Intersection of Bioethics and Policy for Persons with Disability” (emphasis added) among other groups.
Apparently, Compassion and Choice now has some competition in the relentless campaign to legalize and normalize medically assisted suicide in every US state.
COMPASSION AND CHOICES
Now, Compassion and Choices has a new “Federal Advocacy and Policy-Bringing the voice of the terminally ill to Capitol Hill“ that:
“advances federal legislation and regulatory change focused on:
- Strengthening and expanding the full spectrum of end-of-life care such as advance care planning, hospice care, and palliative care, while protecting end-of-life options and patient autonomy from federal efforts to weaken or overturn federal and state laws.
- Addressing disparities in end-of-life care for historically disadvantaged populations and advancing healthcare equity at life’s end.
- Expanding professional end-of-life care education, training and development for all healthcare professionals.
- Preventing healthcare entities from disregarding patient values and preferences by refusing care due to their ethical directives and policy-based restrictions. (All emphasis added)”
Compassion and Choices strongly opposes the “Assisted Suicide Funding Restrictions Act (ASFRA) (seeking repeal)” that:
“Prohibits the use of federal funds to provide or pay for any healthcare item or service or health benefit coverage for the purpose of causing, or assisting to cause, the death of any individual.” as well as “Seeking to permanently vacate the proposed rule, “Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights In Health Care (83 FR 3880),” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which attempted to allow medical providers expanded exemptions from critical healthcare services beyond what the law currently allows.”
Compassion also supports effort to “Establish Comprehensive Telehealth Reform” and also ominously, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education Act (PCHETA)
In 2018, I wrote the blog “Beware the New Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act” (PCHETA)” about Senate Bill 693.
A similar bill had already passed in the House and this Senate bill was also expected.
As I wrote then:
“As an RN with decades of nursing experience in hospice, oncology (cancer) and critical care, I have been involved with many end-of-life situations. I am an enthusiastic supporter of ethical palliative and hospice care which is indeed wonderful for patients of any age and their families.
Unfortunately, there is a growing trend towards calling unethical practices ‘palliative’ or ‘hospice’ care.”
And we certainly should not be allocating federal dollars for this.
But, despite the enormous push for the PCHETA, it never passed.
There was great opposition by American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, the National Association of Pro-life Nurses , Sara Buscher, a retired attorney and CPA on the board of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition – USA. who advocates for the elderly and disabled , the Healthcare Advocacy and Leadership Organization (HALO) and others.
Now, Compassion and Choices is working hard again to get PCHETA passed to “ increase the number of faculty at accredited healthcare programs” and “promote increased education and research in Palliative Care and Hospice care.” (All emphasis added)
If groups promoting medically assisted suicide throughout the US are successful in taking over the ethics education of our health care professionals, eliminating conscience rights for healthcare providers and institutions, continue to dismantle so-called legal safeguards called “obstacles” and allow the same poor oversight and documentation found in Oregon, the first state to legalize assisted suicide, we will see the inevitable and inexorable expansion of medically assisted suicide that we are now seeing in Canada.
We need to demand the highest ethical standards in healthcare to protect ourselves, our healthcare institutions and the most vulnerable among us who need hope and help-not medically assisted suicide.