Last week, the Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) bills were reported “favorably” by the Joint Committee on Public Health. This is the first time the bills have received a favorable recommendation from a committee. The two bills were also amended slightly and merged into one bill (S2745, “An Act relative to end of life options”). It has now been assigned to the Health Care Finance Committee for its review.
If passed by the full legislature and signed into law by the Governor, physician assisted suicide would become law in the Commonwealth.
In addition to the Catholic Church’s teaching that life begins at conception and ends naturally, the following flaws remain in the bill:
- The six month or less to live prognosis is often wrong. Many patients live for many more months or years after the prognosis.
- The frail, elderly or disabled may feel pressured to partake in PAS.
- There is no requirement that a doctor, nurse, family member or any other witness be present at the time the drugs are taken. What happens if something goes wrong?
- These deadly drugs are picked up at the local pharmacy.
- There are no safeguards in place to prevent access to the drugs once the prescription is filled. If a patient decides not to go forward with PAS or delays the decision or changes his mind completely, deadly drugs may remain in the household and available for misuse by anyone with access.
- A family member who may benefit financially from the death of a relative may exert undue influence on the patient considering PAS.
- A patient may consider PAS because he or she does not want to be a “burden” to the family. This is particularly true for the disability community.
We must do what we can to prevent it from going any further than the committee level. Efforts by the MCC and other like minded groups and individuals to defeat these bills are ongoing. You can also help by letting your senator and representative know where you stand on this issue.