- Assisted suicide laws ignore the role of depression and anxiety in patients with a terminal diagnosis. Patients are not required to have even a basic psychological evaluation prior to receiving a prescription for lethal drugs. In California, terminally ill patients committed to mental institutions can request assisted suicide and be released so they can kill themselves.
- Assisted suicide laws discriminate against vulnerable patients, especially those who are poor or underinsured. Patients in Oregon have been refused chemotherapy, but their insurance companies will pay for so-called “aid-in-dying” drugs. Terminally ill patients are highly susceptible to even subtle suggestions that they are becoming too expensive or burdensome.
- Assisted suicide laws communicate the message that under challenging circumstances some lives are not worth living. This message is heard by not only those with a terminal illness but also by any person struggling with the temptation to end his or her life. Legalizing assisted suicide has been associated with a significant increase in total suicides.
- Assisted suicide laws encourage abuse by stripping those labeled terminally ill of essential legal protections. Deaths by assisted suicide are rarely, if ever, investigated. Patient death certificates do not state that patients died by lethal drugs, so law enforcement officials have no way of knowing whether a patient was coerced or forced into taking “aid-in-dying” drugs.
- Assisted suicide laws manipulate people by redefining terms. Per the statutory language, death by a self-administered overdose of barbiturates may not be not called suicide, but must be referred to as “assisted dying.” In California, patients seeking “assisted dying” are required to stipulate that taking lethal drugs will provide a “humane and dignified” death, even though the drugs frequently cause such side effects as vomiting and inhalation of vomit, severe anxiety or terror, extreme confusion, and gasping for air.
Life Legal has filed a lawsuit to stop California’s assisted suicide law. We represent six doctors—two oncologists, a palliative care specialist, a hospice physician, the associate medical director of a hospice facility, and a neurologist—as well as the American Academy of Medical Ethics, which includes 600 physicians in California.
We sued the California Director of Public Health and a District Attorney responsible for enforcing the Act. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has “intervened” in the lawsuit to uphold the End of Life Option Act, which means the Attorney General is now effectively a defendant.
Our lawsuit is opposed by “Compassion and Choices,” a pro-suicide lobbying organization that has received over well over $7 million from billionaire social engineer George Soros.