Euthanasia and assisted suicide advocates claim that the legalization of these practices is about choice and autonomy. However safeguards to protect patients against euthanasia have not worked in the Netherlands where the practice is legal as the evidence gathered over the years has shown that many patients are killed by euthanasia without their consent. So much for choice and autonomy!
As for Oregon where assisted suicide is legal, there is cause for concern as well. In times of rising health care costs, providing lethal drugs for assisted suicide is much cheaper than caring for patients. An Oregon newspaper reported in 2008 that the Oregon Heath Plan refused to pay for cancer treatments for some patients but offered to pay for assisted suicide or comfort care instead. As one patient Barbara Wagner stated “To say to someone, we’ll pay for you to die but not for you to live is cruel. I get angry. Who do they think they are?” Thankfully her oncologist contacted the pharmaceutical company who agreed to supply her with the medication at no cost for a year. To legalize euthanasia and PAS would put immense pressure on the chronically or terminally ill, the disabled and those suffering emotional or psychological distress.
Euphemisms such as “physician assisted dying”, choice in dying, right to die cloak the harsh reality of what’s really at stake in the debate. Euthanasia and assisted suicide must be rejected because killing and helping someone to kill themselves should never be a solution or considered medical treatment.
Action Life letter originally printed in the Ottawa Citizen