In Oregon and Washington, where assisted suicide is legalized, the Departments of Health (DOH) in both states are required to report statistics including reasons why patients have been year after year, requesting physician assisted suicide (PAS). Their collected statistics contradict the claims of those who promote PAS, who claim it that assisted suicide is required to help people in extreme end-of-life pain. Read the facts below:
Data shared by the Department of Health in their Annual Oregon Reports confirm the many statements by the AMA and medical industry leaders that strongly oppose physician assisted suicide. Some of these statements are shown in these paragraphs and on this page. They concur that physician assisted suicide is not needed among the medical profession’s spectrum of “end-of-life planning options” for patients. It is a obstacle to introducing patients to the full spectrum of end-of-life care which mitigate some of the harshness of reduced quality of life due to physical or mental limitations.
The above data from the DOH reports show us that it has not been a regular practice to refer patients for psychological or psychiatric treatments and in 2009 they expressed their concerns in writing. To sum up and quoting the reports:
In summary, out of a total of 272 patients who died from 2009 – 2012, only 4 were referred. Links to the reports are below:
This shows a lack of respect for human dignity and life. Imagine, patients who are terminal, with only six months or less to live, allowed by this law to linger in anxiety and in possible mental duress — without psychological help and psychiatric medical treatments — and then they are assisted to commit suicide.
[Dr. Marshal Mandelkern, Chief of Psychiatry at the Hospital of Saint Raphael, said, “If someone says there’s no point in going on, I would first ask ‘How depressed is this person?’ If you let somebody die when they’re depressed, they don’t have a chance of getting better.”]
See: http://www.healthgrades.com/physician/dr-marshal-mandelkern-2vbpj also see USCCB — on the Role of Depression http://old.usccb.org/prolife/issues/euthanas/roleofdepression.pdf
The AMA, Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Suicide Prevention International, and New York Medical College report in their paper, “Physician Assisted Suicide in Oregon — A Physicians Perspective” say that, “The Oregon law seems to require reasonable safeguards regarding the care of patients near the end of life, which include presenting patients with the option for palliative care;
“The evidence strongly suggests that these safeguards are being circumvented in ways that are harmful to patients“…
[Note: The presence of the suicide option, among others, is not helpful to patients. Where promoters try to position this option as one among many; facts show that it does not refer patients to other options (such as palliative care, hospice or even for psychological or psychiatric help); instead, it keeps them hostage. In other words, it is an incompatible option that carves out its own space and does not co-exist with other alternatives like palliative care or hospice to enable a practice of referrals. If it were a priority to refer or possible to enforce referrals to other options, doctors in Oregon who are not associated with the suicide program would have made it happen, and more than a handful of those patients would have been referred for psychological and psychiatric help, palliative care, and hospice.] According to records, this was not the case. Clearly, this those running the suicide program did not treat referrals as critical to their mission with suicide patients.
The doctors who authored the Physicians Perspective paper shared that, “OPHD has been issuing annual reports declaring that terminally ill Oregon patients are receiving adequate care. The available evidence, which we will present in this article, suggests otherwise….The unintended consequence of this provision is that it enables physicians, to assist in suicide without inquiring into the source of the medical, psychological, social, and existential concerns that usually underlie requests for assisted suicide, even though this type of inquiry produces the kind of discussion that often leads to relief for patients and makes assisted suicide seem unnecessary…”
“When a terminally ill Oregon patient makes a request for assisted suicide, physicians are required to indicate that palliative care and hospice care are feasible alternatives. They are not required however to be knowledgeable about how to relieve physical or emotional suffering …without such knowledge, which most physicians do not have, they cannot present or make feasible alternatives available. Nor in the absence of such knowledge are they required to refer the patient to a physician with expertise in palliative care.”
“In the absence of adequate monitoring, the focus shifts away from relieving the distress of dying patients considering a hastened death to meeting the statutory requirements for assisted suicide.”
“Physicians can merely go through the motions of presenting the possibility of palliative care for their patients”.
Through the “Position Statement on Physician-Assisted Suicide and Opposition to AB 374”, doctors share that “Legalizing physician-assisted suicide strikes at the heart of what we do as physicians and adds ambiguity to the physician-patient relationship.
The physician’s primary directive is to first, do no harm. Physician-assisted suicide destroys the trust between the patient and doctor..
Under the pretense of providing compassion, the physician is relieved of his or her primary responsibility to the patient – to safeguard life and to provide comfort to the suffering. … it is the ultimate patient abandonment”.
(See Position Statement on Physician-Assisted Suicide and Opposition to AB 374, by doctors at: Assoc. of Northern California Oncologists, Medical Oncology Assoc. of Southern California, California Medical Association, American Medical Association American College of Physicians) http://dredf.org/assisted_suicide/ Oncology%20Statement%20on%20AB%20374%20(Berg).pdf
Also see a testimony by, who was surprised to find himself inclined to mistrust doctors because of physician assisted suicide, and mentions some of his concerns.
Who Can Best Judge “Quality Of Life”?
Philip G. Ney, M.D., Clinical Professor,
Department of Psychiatry,
University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC