Wyoming Adds its Voice to Says No to Physician Assisted Suicide Legislation

WyomingCommittee tables Wyoming ‘Death with Dignity’ bill, recommends interim study

CHEYENNE — The Wyoming House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee unanimously voted to table legislation which would allow physicians to prescribe life-ending medications to terminally ill patients.

The committee also recommended that an interim committee research the issue.

Proponents of the legislation argue that the legislation offers terminally ill patients a humane end-of-life option and a way to say goodbye to their families. Supporters also believe that they shouldn’t have to leave their home state to have the option available.

Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, called the vote the best possible outcome for House Bill 119.

“Several committee members pledged to do their best to get management council to assign it to a committee during the interim and do a study,” he said. “That’s probably more successful than it going to the floor and dying.”

The committee heard emotional testimony from Wyoming residents who would be affected by death with dignity legislation. Testifying before the committee, Alisha Loveland of Casper, told the story of her father-in-law. He was diagnosed with emphysema and knew it was a matter of time until the disease took his life. Taking matters into his own hands, he ended his life with a firearm.

Loveland told the committee that she and her husband had to clean up the aftermath.

“He had gotten to the point where he couldn’t walk even to his workshop. He knew he would eventually suffocate to death. He didn’t want to wait until the agonizing end,” she said.

“I don’t understand why we have to be medical refugees and go to another state to die. I don’t understand why we can’t stay in our own state and die in our own bed with loved ones around us.”

Rep. Dan Kirkbride, R-Chugwater, serves on the committee. He said that he would oppose death with dignity legislation on the house floor for spiritual reasons. He also said that legislation would put doctors in a bad place, calling the legislation a “slippery slope.” He said that health care professionals take an oath to provide the best possible care and that assisting patients dying would violate that oath.

“It would probably open some doors to some other things in society that we haven’t considered,” the legislator said.

HB119 is among more than 10 bills proposed in state legislatures across the country. Five states have death with dignity laws on the books. New Mexico, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Vermont currently allow the practice.

Jessica Grennan, of Missoula, Montana, is the national field director for Compassion and Choices, the nation’s largest death with dignity proponent. She said that while she is pleased that the committee recommended that the state look into the issue, she would like to see the legislature hasten their work on the matter.

“I’m pleased that we’re going to further the conversation. I wish the people who want this end-of-life option now in Wyoming…I’m sad that they have to wait,” Grennan said.

If A2270/S382 Passes, Will NJ Taxpayers be Funding Physician-Assisted Suicide?

tax dollarsOn November 18th, 2014,  during the Assembly floor debate on A2270, the physician assisted bill, Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) asked Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-3), the bill sponsor, some very important questions related to taxpayer funding of assisted suicide.  Assemblyman Webber said he noticed there was no prohibition on the use of state funds – either state medicaid funds or monies through the state health benefits plans from being used to intentionally end another individual’s life. He then asked Assemblyman Burzichelli if there was anything in the bill that would prevent state funds from being used to pay for assisted suicide. Assemblyman Burzichelli answered that he thought that the normal course of process associated with what is paid for or not paid for in the multiple programs the state had would be sufficient to sort out those details. Assemblyman Webber then asked if it was the sponsor’s intention to require public funding of physician assisted suicide. Burzichelli’s response was that he makes “no comment related to what those processes would provide based on this intent of the legislation.” You can listen to that exchange here (at minute marker 37:50 -40:07); We advise using Internet Explorer to access this page.

It is important to note that without an express prohibition in the bill to prohibit taxpayer funding of assisted suicide, it leaves the door open to the use of public funds. It’s amazing that the bill passed after this admission by the sponsor, especially among the four Republicans who voted for it, all of whom claim to be fiscal conservatives. (Asw. Maria Rodriguez-Gregg (R-8), Asm. Declan O’Scanlon (R-13), Asm. Jack Ciatterelli (R-16), and Holly Schepisi (R-39).)

We thank Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) and Assemblyman Robert Auth (R-39) for speaking about the dangers of this bill and pointing out its serious flaws.

Read related article here.

Let’s Be Honest: Assembly Bill is About Suicide, Not Dignity

assisted suicideDoblin: Let’s be honest: Assembly bill is about suicide, not dignity

NOVEMBER 17, 2014    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2014, 1:21 AM
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I AM not evil. According to Brittany Maynard, I am. Maynard was the 29-year-old terminally ill woman who moved from California to Oregon so she could commit suicide on Nov. 1. I am not evil, and I refuse to be an apologist for what we are talking about across these not-so-United States. The New Jersey Death With Dignity Act is mislabeled. The function of such a law is to allow people to end their lives — and that is called suicide.

Maynard, an eloquent advocate for her cause, told People magazine, “For people to argue against this choice for sick people really seems evil to me.” On Thursday, 41 members of the state Assembly apparently agreed. By the slimmest of majorities, the 80-member chamber passed the so-called Death With Dignity bill.

The state Senate still must pass the bill before it could go to Governor Christie’s desk. Considering Christie’s pro-life stance, it is hard to envision him signing such a bill into law. There was not much debate in the Assembly, but what has been reported reveals some of the passion behind the legislation.

Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, D-Middlesex, told of his mother’s last days. She had wasted away to 50 pounds and would tell him she wished she could die. There is no easy answer here. Legislation that will affect every person living in New Jersey should not be the byproduct of any individual’s personal loss.

Yet we see in state legislatures and Congress just that — the proliferation of laws that bear the first name of a victim of a crime or a natural calamity. These bills become laws because legislators find that spot inside constituents that wants to end brutality or suffering and come up with legislation that generally does not solve the problems, only salves the wounds.

The sincerity of the bill’s supporters is real. But the opposition is sincere, as well. There are religious forces at play, and there are more basic moral ones, not aligned to any one given faith. Despite the procedural safeguards that should prevent someone in momentary depression from committing suicide, this is a dangerous line for a state to cross. Because if we buy into the argument that this is all about personal liberty and no one has the right to tell anyone when to end their life, then suicide without checks and balances becomes not only justifiable, but a protected right. While many New Jerseyans may be fine with the overall concept of allowing terminally ill people the choice of killing themselves, in practice it might not be so black and white.

We all want to cheat death. And sometimes people defy their diagnosis. The headlines over Maynard’s decision may be recent, but the actress Valerie Harper made news when she went public with her diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. She was given three months to live — two years ago.

Terminally ill patients would have to be of sound mind when they decide to end their lives under this proposed bill. So the case of a dying parent in the final throes of a horrible death may not really be applicable. The decision to die would have had to be made and acted upon long before that stage was reached.

Some proponents of this legislation also claim that the health care industry is preventing terminally ill patients from dying because there is money to be made by forcing these patients to undergo needless medical procedures and treatments. Well, in this new America where all citizens must have health insurance, the opposite could become true — insurers could encourage patients with costly end-of-life illnesses to choose a quicker death.

If I am uncomfortable with the possibility that insurance companies could determine if I live or die — and I am — I am more frightened when legislators take on that role; I cannot think of a collective body more lacking in moral and intellectual integrity. Whether it is a state legislature or Congress, these chambers are political entities with members who vote with one eye on the next election and the other eye on the one beyond that one.

The law should be free of such political taint, but it is not. There may be enough support for the Assembly bill to bring it to the state Senate. Not for nothing, but the president of the state Senate intends to run for governor, and I am not sure he would want to have this piece of legislation on his résumé in 2017.

There is no way of knowing whether the individuals who chose suicide would have died the horrible deaths they chose to avoid. Without that irrefutable evidence, we are left with the stories of the terrible deaths of people we have known and loved as the primary reason for embracing state-sanctioned suicide.

My mother had Alzheimer’s. By the time she died, she no longer could walk, speak or understand any conversation. She was not in pain, which was a blessing. But she was robbed of her personality; no caregiver saw the dynamic woman she had once been. Should people with Alzheimer’s be given the option to end their lives while they still have their ability to reason? If more states become like Oregon, perhaps the answer one day will be yes.

The Assembly passed a bill claiming it allows dying people to retain their dignity. The Legislature is not in the dignity business. Dignity is innate; it can’t be legislated into existence. Alleviating pain and misery is a noble goal; state-sanctioned suicide is not.

If that makes me evil, I don’t want to know society’s definition of good.

Alfred P. Doblin is the editorial page editor of The Record. Contact him at doblin@northjersey.com. Follow AlfredPDoblin on Twitter.

Know the Facts about A2270: ‘Aid in Dying’ Bill Riddled with Fatal Flaws

assisted suicide - elder abuseAs appeared in the online edition of the Asbury Park Press on October 16, 2014.

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TASY: ‘Aid in Dying’ bill riddled with flaws
Marie Tasy 3:29 p.m. EDT October 16, 2014

The Sept. 28 Asbury Park Press editorial, “Offer choice, mercy to terminally ill,” attempts to make the case for the Legislature to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Its position originates from the mistaken notion that the legislation contains adequate “safeguards and precautions.” Sponsors’ numerous attempts to amend the bill and change its title to try to make it sound more appealing have done nothing to mitigate the actual dangers present in the bill. Continue reading

Assisted Suicide Cannot Promise You a Peaceful or Painless Death

pillsRead this article, then please take Immediate Action to OPPOSE Bill A2270, which will legalize physician assisted suicide in our state. Go to the “Legislation” tab on the top red bar of this page to tell your legislators to vote NO and get more information! Sponsors are pushing for a vote this fall in the Assembly! 

Assisted suicide cannot promise you a peaceful or painless death.

It can include gasping, muscle spasms, nausea, vomiting, panic, confusion, failure to produce unconsciousness, waking from unconsciousness, and a failure to cause death.

Continue reading