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There is an effort currently underway within the American Medical Association (AMA) to abandon its decades-long position opposing assisted suicide and take a neutral stance. At its July 2017 annual meeting, the AMA will consider taking a “neutral” position which essentially sends a green light to the states that legalizing is acceptable. However, we have recently been made aware that the AMA will hold an interim meeting on November 13 and 14 in Orlando where a special breakout session will be held on assisted suicide.
Both the national and state medical societies’ opposition to doctor-prescribed suicide have been instrumental in stopping the spread of these dangerous laws. In fact, when the Vermont and California medical societies took neutral positions, it was devastating to the efforts in the legislature to block legalization. Assisting suicide is now legal in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and California, and the practice may have some legal protection in the state of Montana.
We are asking the following things:
1. Please contact one or both contacts below via phone or email.
2. Please restrict arguments to the suggested bullet points, in your own words.
3. Speak with any physicians you know and urge them contact the AMA.
4. Ask for a written response/ report any information received back to NRLC.
1. Who to contact:
Dr. Andrew W. Gurman, MD, AMA President, firstname.lastname@example.org
330 N Wabash, Ste 43482
Chicago IL 60611-5885
Bette Crigger, PhD, CEJA’s Secretary, email@example.com
Secretary, Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs
American Medical Association
330 N Wabash, Ste 43482
Chicago IL 60611-5885
Based on both polling and the positive experience of many states fighting these assisted suicide laws, please try and restrict your arguments to one or two of the following:
2. What to Say:
(Select one or more of the following statements and re-word or add your own thoughts.)
The AMA should retain its longstanding position in opposition to the legalization of assisted suicide because:
· Medical professionals should focus on providing care and comfort to patients – NOT becoming a source of lethal drugs. I would not want my doctor to have this power and suggest suicide to me as an “option.”
· Will the government and insurance companies do the right thing – pay for treatment costing thousands of dollars – or the cheap thing – pay for lethal drugs costing hundreds of dollars?
· Everyone knows someone who has been misdiagnosed or outlived a terminal diagnosis.
· Wanting to die because of depression is treatable. Millions of people are living proof.
· Everyone agrees that dying in pain is unacceptable, however nearly all pain is now treatable. A patient in pain should find a new doctor.
· Oregon is proof that general suicides rise dramatically once assisted suicide is promoted as a “good.”
· My family member could die from taking lethal drugs and I wouldn’t know about it until he/she is dead because no family notification is required in advance.
· Assisted suicide is a recipe for elder and disability abuse because it can put lethal drugs in the hands of abusers.
· A relative who is an heir to the patient’s estate or an abusive caregiver can pick up the lethal drugs and administer them without the patient’s knowledge or consent. There is no oversight and no witnesses are required once the lethal drugs leave the pharmacy
3. Ask for a response:
Please send any replies to firstname.lastname@example.org
Folks, there’s much more to be concerned about with the current Senate health care reform bill than just federal abortion coverage. National Right to Life has an analysis:
State commissioners of the new health insurance exchanges created by the bill would be given power to deny people who are trying to obtain policies in the exchange the option of choosing health plans less likely to deny treatment, by limiting what they would be allowed to pay for such policies.
In response to public reaction over the summer denouncing efforts to encourage patients to agree to reject treatment as a way of saving costs, the Senate avoided including the “advance care planning” provisions still in the House bill. Instead, it has sought to achieve a similar result under a different name, Under the title “Shared Decisionmaking,” the bill funds and promotes “patient decision aids” to “help” patients make treatment decisions.
A Medicare Advisory Board is established to force Medicare payments below the rate of medical inflation.
Even more details and documentation can be found here: http://www.nrlc.org/healthcarerationing/reidsubstitute.html and at the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics blog
Although Jim Towey’s column has stirred the proverbial hornet’s nest, my hunch is that not enough people are aware of the growing controversy over what is afoot at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). According to Towey (the one-time director of President George W. Bush’s Faith-Based Initiatives, among other things), the VA has brought back to life a death initiative into which Bush tried to drive a stake back in 2007. All this, needless to say, is being pooh-poohed by the Obama Administration.
Towey’s Wall Street Journal piece (available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204683204574358590107981718.html) charges that a 52-page “hurry up and die” workbook/primer titled Your Life, Your Choices: Planning for Future Medical Decisions “presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political ‘push poll.’ For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be ‘not worth living.'”
Since the document is available online (complete with a quickly added disclaimer once Towey’s op-ed appeared), I read it for myself to see if Towey’s allegations held water. And, unfortunately, they most assuredly do.
Excellent editorial in the Wall Street Journal about the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated 52-page end-of-life planning document:
If President Obama wants to better understand why America’s discomfort with end-of-life discussions threatens to derail his health-care reform, he might begin with his own Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He will quickly discover how government bureaucrats are greasing the slippery slope that can start with cost containment but quickly become a systematic denial of care.
Last year, bureaucrats at the VA’s National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated a 52-page end-of-life planning document, “Your Life, Your Choices.” It was first published in 1997 and later promoted as the VA’s preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes. After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated “Your Life, Your Choices.”
Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing.
“Your Life, Your Choices” presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political “push poll.” For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be “not worth living.”
The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to “shake the blues.” There is a section which provocatively asks, “Have you ever heard anyone say, ‘If I’m a vegetable, pull the plug’?” There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as “I can no longer contribute to my family’s well being,” “I am a severe financial burden on my family” and that the vet’s situation “causes severe emotional burden for my family.”
When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living, who needs a death panel?
And they wonder why we are concerned about the possibility of ‘death panels’ being part of the national health care reform! Here is another article from NewsBusters.