The Dangerously Contagious Effect of Assisted Suicide laws

assisted suicide not safe

Action: Contact your State Senator today and urge him or her to Vote No on S382, The Physician Assisted Suicide bill!

You can obtain your Senator’s contact information by calling 1-800-792-8630 or visiting the NJ Legislature webpage HERE


Opinion: The dangerously contagious effect of assisted-suicide laws

By Aaron Kheriaty November 20, 2015

Published in the Washington Post

Aaron Kheriaty is an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the medical ethics program at the University of California at Irvine School of Medicine. This piece is adapted from a longer commentary that appeared in the Southern Medical Journal in October.

The debate over doctor­assisted suicide is often framed as an issue of personal autonomy and privacy. Proponents argue that assisted suicide should be legalized because it affects only those individuals who — assuming they are of sound mind — are making a rational and deliberate choice to end their lives. But presenting the issue in this way ignores the wider social consequences. What if it turns out that the individuals who make this choice in fact are influencing the actions of those who follow?

Ironically, on the same day that Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the bill to legalize physician­assisted suicide in California last month, an important study was published by British scholars David Jones and David Paton demonstrating that legalizing assisted suicide in other states has led to a rise in overall suicide rates — assisted and unassisted — in those states. The study’s key findings show that, after controlling for demographic and socioeconomic factors and other state­specific issues, physician­assisted suicide is associated with a 6.3 percent increase in total suicide rates. These effects are greater for individuals older than 65 (for whom the associated increase was 14.5 percent). The results should not surprise anyone familiar with the literature on the social contagion effects of suicidal behavior. You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide.

Consider what social scientists call the Werther effect — the fact that publicized cases of suicide can produce clusters of copycat cases, often disproportionately affecting young people, who frequently use the same method as the original case. The name comes from Goethe’s 18th­century novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther,” in which the protagonist, thwarted in his romantic pursuits, takes his own life with a pistol. After the publication of this immensely popular book, authorities in Germany noted a rash of suicides among young men using the same means. This finding has been replicated many times since in rigorous epidemiological studies, including research demonstrating this effect following cases of doctor­assisted suicide.

Because this phenomenon is well validated, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the U.S. surgeon general have published strict journalistic guidelines for reporting on suicides to minimize this effect. It is demoralizing to note that these guidelines were widely ignored in the reporting of recent instances of assisted suicide, with the subject’s decision to end his or her life frequently presented in the media as inspiring and even heroic.

A related phenomenon influences suicide trends in the opposite direction, however; the so­called Papageno effect suggests that coverage of people with suicidal ideation who do not attempt suicide but instead find strategies that help them to cope with adversity is associated with decreased suicide rates. The name comes from a lovesick character in Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute,” whose planned suicide is averted by three child spirits who remind him of alternatives to death. The case of Valentina Maureira, a 14­year­old Chilean girl who made a YouTube video begging her government for assisted suicide, illustrates the Werther and Papageno effects. Maureira admitted that the idea to end her life began after she heard about the case of Brittany Maynard, a 29 ­year­ old woman with terminal brain cancer who campaigned prominently for the right to assisted suicide before ending her life last year. But Maureira changed her mind after meeting another young person also suffering from the same disease, cystic fibrosis, who conveyed a message of hope and encouraged her to persevere in the face of adversity. With our laws, we can encourage vulnerable individuals in one of these two directions: the path of Werther or the path of Papageno.

Aside from publicized cases, there is evidence that suicidal behavior tends to spread person to person through social networks, up to three “degrees of separation” away. So my decision to take my own life would affect not just my friends’ risk of doing the same, but even my friends’ friends’ friends. No person is an island.

Finally, it is widely acknowledged that the law is a teacher: Laws shape the ethos of a culture by affecting cultural attitudes toward certain behaviors and influencing moral norms. Laws permitting physician­assisted suicide send a message that, under especially difficult circumstances, some lives are not worth living — and that suicide is a reasonable or appropriate way out.

This is a message that will be heard not just by those with a terminal illness but also by anyone tempted to think he or she cannot go on any longer. Debates about physician­assisted suicide raise broad questions about our societal attitudes toward suicide.

Recent research findings on suicide rates press the question: What sort of society do we want to become? Suicide is already a public health crisis. Do we want to legalize a practice that will worsen this crisis?

New England Journal of Medicine: 10% of Elderly Americans Abused

assisted suicide - elder abuse
Please read the article below.  Abuse of the elderly and disabled is real and is a legitimate major concern if physician assisted suicide becomes legal. Call your State Senator today and tell them to vote No vote on S382 to protect our vulnerable populations.

10% of elderly Americans abused, says NEJM

Doctors need to be able to recognise the tell-tale signs of elder abuse, according to theNew England Journal of Medicine, because about 10% of the elderly experience some form of abuse. “Thus, a busy physician caring for older adults will encounter a victim of such abuse on a frequent basis, regardless of whether the physician recognizes the abuse,” write Mark S. Lachs and Karl A. Pillemer.

Those most at risk are women, people living in a “shared living environment”, those who relatively young, the poor, and people who are social isolated. Most abuse in nursing homes comes from fellow residents. However, just living with other people, even family members, is also a risk factor, as there will be more opportunities for conflict.

The authors cateogrise abuse in five ways:

physical abuse, or acts carried out with the intention to cause physical pain or injury; psychological or verbal abuse, defined as acts carried out with the aim of causing emotional pain or injury; sexual abuse, defined as nonconsensual sexual contact of any kind; financial exploitation, involving the misappropriation of an older person’s money or property; and neglect, or the failure of a designated caregiver to meet the needs of a dependent older person.

Financial abuse, they say, is virtually “epidemic”. “Recent studies suggest that financial exploitation is emerging as the most prevalent form of abuse; by the time cases are detected, the older adult’s financial resources have often been drastically reduced — a fact that makes swift detection and intervention critical.”

– See more at:

Breaking: AmeriHealth Offers Health Insurance Coverage Under the NJ Obamacare exchange that Excludes Abortion. Act Before 12/15/15 to get this Coverage!

Open season for Obamacare enrollment for 2016 plans is going on from Nov. 1 till December 15.  In the past two years, all the plans sold on the NJ exchange covered abortion on demand. This year we were pleasantly surprised to discover that plans sold by Amerihealth NJ exclude elective abortion coverage (Amerihealth plans sold off the exchange include coverage for abortion).

The “open season” for enrollment into a new Obamacare plan with coverage starting January 2016, is from Nov. 1 – December 15 (see )  – the deadline is extended through January if you want your coverage to start later in 2016.

To clarify – the Amerihealth NJ plans exclude abortion ONLY if you buy them on the Obamacare exchange at

More information can be found at the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Family Research Council.   They are updating information about abortion coverage in Obamacare, the New Jersey information is here

Trauma Nurse Explains, My Mom Just Died of Brain Cancer. Here’s Why She Opposed Assisted Suicide

assisted suicide

Note: The California Governor signed the Physician Assisted Suicide bill on Monday, October 5. Consequently, certain forces are now pushing for the NJ Senate to pass the NJ Physician Assisted Suicide bill (A2270/S382) this session. Please go to our Legislative section of the website and send an email message to your State Senator urging him/her to vote No on A2270/S382. Please also call their office and ask to speak with them to deliver the same message, Please do both even if you have done so multiple times before. Thank you.

My Mom Just Died Of Brain Cancer. Here’s Why She Opposed Assisted Suicide

By Mary Karner
October 6, 2015

I’ll admit it, I’m an adrenaline junkie. And judging from the plethora of new TV shows like “Trauma: Life in the ER” or “Code Black,” most of America is too. Except that’s my life. I’m a Trauma Nurse. I eat, sleep, and breathe trauma.

Every time I walk into work with a French Vanilla Swirl Latte from Dunkin’ Donuts in my hand, life and death are waiting for me. And up until this week I thought I’d seen just about everything. I’ve performed CPR till I thought my arms would fall off to keep blood pumping through a child’s body. I’ve administered life-saving medication to a patient having a stroke and seen the joy on his face when he regained his speech. I’ve had a patient fall through a ceiling onto another patient (I can’t even make that up.) I’ve held the hand of patients as they’ve taken their last breath, and I’ve hugged family members so tight I couldn’t breathe. I really thought I’d seen it all.

And then last week, my mom died. She had a glioblastoma brain tumor. I knew all about it, even cared for patients with her same diagnosis. I knew what was going to happen. But no matter how much I thought I was ready, I wasn’t. Death stings. And my beautiful, 52-year-old mother’s grave is freshly dug.

But my mom’s name was Dr. Maggie Karner. And she was the textbook definition of awesome. Don’t take my word for it, Google her. She devoted her entire life to helping others and spreading Christ’s beautiful gift of mercy for all. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard my mom speak more passionately then when she was talking about the word “mercy.” And that’s why my mom used her last days on Earth to campaign against a very dangerous use of that word. A “merciful death” some would call it, or a “right to die.”

My mom is most famous for a YouTube video that went viral entitled “A Letter to Brittany Maynard.” In the video my mom pleaded with Brittany, who had the same diagnosis, not to commit assisted suicide. Unfortunately, Brittany eventually chose to end her life, but my mom never stopped advocating for life. In her words, “How long will it be before the right to die quickly devolves into the duty to die? What does this mean for all who are elderly, or disabled, or just wondering if they’ve become a burden to the family?” Even while she was receiving chemotherapy, my mom spoke at the Connecticut state house to lobby against a “right to die” bill. The bill did not pass.
Difficulty Doesn’t Justify Suicide

That’s why my heart breaks tonight to learn the news that California’s governor has just signed legislation allowing residents of the state to take their own lives in the face of terminal illness. This makes five states in our nation allowing assisted suicide.
‘My brain may be cancerous, but I still have lots to contribute to society.’

Believe me, terminal illness sucks. There is no way to sugar coat that. It stole my mom from me along with so many others. But it also gave me something that I could never begin to describe, the opportunity to serve her. My family and I cared for her when she could no longer care for herself. We were her left arm when hers was paralyzed. And when that became too much, we had the distinct privilege of being able to visit her at her hospice facility during the last month of her life. She was not herself, and many times confused, but she could laugh. Even up until the day before she died. We laughed about seagulls that she thought were drones. We laughed about how much she loved chocolate and McFlurry’s from McDonald’s. We laughed about all the stupid things I did as a kid. And then when she could no longer laugh, we sang to her and we prayed with her.

My mom said it best in an op-ed in the Hartford Courant: “My brain may be cancerous, but I still have lots to contribute to society as a strong woman, wife and mother while my family can daily learn the value of caring for me in my last days with compassion and dignity.”

I’m here to say that she was right. No matter how hard it was and still is. She was so right. And the greatest honor of my life was to care for my mom in her last days. I hope and pray that her legacy will continue to inspire caring American voters to support those choosing to squeeze life for every drop that it has to give. Support hospice and palliative care programs that give true meaning to “death with dignity.” Let those fighting illness and disabilities know that they are precious, no matter what. They should never have to feel for a second that they might have a “duty to die” just because the option is available.

Mary Karner is a Registered Nurse currently working in Connecticut.

NJRTL Responds to Star Ledger Editorial: Fetal Tissue Isn’t Needed to Cure Diseases

letter to the editor

Fetal tissue isn’t needed to cure diseases

The Star-Ledger By Letters to the Editor | The Star-Ledger
on October 05, 2015 at 8:00 AM, updated October 05, 2015 at 8:10 AM

Fetal tissue isn’t needed to cure diseases

The Star-Ledger’s editorial regarding fetal tissue and defense of Planned Parenthood relies on broad, unsupported claims that fetal tissue is needed to help cure certain diseases and illnesses. However, your presumptions rely on antiquated science. Nothing usable for patients has come from the research you cite. Current, progressive alternatives such as induced pluripotent stem cells provide an unlimited source of cells, which can be produced from tissue of any human being, without harm to the individual donor, and with the ability to form virtually any cell type for study or potential clinical application. Stem cells from umbilical cord blood also show significant potential, but also have unique advantages for clinical applications and are already treating patients for numerous conditions. These are ethical, viable alternatives to using body parts from aborted babies.

You are correct that the imagery of an unborn baby on the video makes this a volatile subject, with one distinction. The babies in these videos did not die peaceful, natural deaths; they were deliberately and brutally crushed, dismembered and sliced apart for their brains, hearts, livers, pancreases and other organs. The fetal tissue you cite in those studies has been obtained in many cases from unborn babies at stages where fetal surgery is now used to correct anomalies in the womb and save lives, and at stages where science now demonstrates that unborn babies at these stages can feel pain. We should all agree that this inhumane and callous treatment of innocent human beings must end, and no organization that participates in these types of atrocities should be funded by taxpayers.

Marie Tasy is executive director of New Jersey Right to Life.

Urgent! Contact your Member of Congress Now! Tell them Don’t Vote for Continuing Resolution or any bill that funds Planned Parenthood!

I Stand Against Planned Parenthood

This week, Congress has to pass a Continuing Resolution that funds the entire government by midnight on September 30th. Call Congress today and tell them Don’t Fund Planned Parenthood. You can find your Congressperson’s contact info at:

Click on their website and call them at the Capitol Hill office and their local office. Thank you!

U.S. House of Representatives passes Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act and The Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015. Action Needed in U.S. Senate on Pain Capable Bill and CR Amendment to Defund Planned Parenthood

U.S. House of Representatives

On Friday, September 18, 2015, The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 3504, the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act by a vote of 248-177, with one voting present (Roll call vote 506) and H.R. 3134, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 by a vote of 241-187, with 1 voting present (Roll Call vote 505).

We received word that U.S. Senate is expected to vote as early as Tuesday, September 22nd on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36). This bill passed the House of Representatives previously on May 13.

We also understand that the U.S. Senate will vote on an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood some time in the near future as part of a Continuing Resolution needed to fund the federal government. This is the second time the U.S. Senate will be voting to Defund Planned Parenthood.
Action Needed:

Urge New Jersey’s U. S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker to vote yes on H.R. 36, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and to vote yes to Defund Planned Parenthood.

Senator Robert Menendez
Wash.D.C. office 202 224-4744
NJ offices: 973 645-3030, 856 757-5353

Senator Cory Booker
Wash. D.C. office: 202 224-3224
NJ offices: 973 639 8700, 856 338-8922