Home Death & Resurrection Delaware legislators make another push for physician-assisted suicide

Delaware legislators make another push for physician-assisted suicide

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A demonstrator against assisted suicide joins a protest outside Parliament in London in 2015. (CNS photo/Stefan Wermuth, Reuters)

The Delaware legislature is again focusing its efforts on physician-assisted suicide and the Delaware Catholic Action Network, other faith-based groups and medical associations in the state are fighting the latest attempt for government to help people end their lives.

House Bill No. 140 argues that terminally ill patients undergo irreversible reduction in their quality of life in their final days and only the patient can determine if his or her suffering is unbearable.

“Participation in the practice of medical aid in dying by willing medical providers for terminally ill patients who request the end-of-life option, respects and honors patients’ values and priorities for their own death, and puts the patient at the center of care,” according to the legislation.

House members sponsoring the bill are Gerald L. Brady, Wilmington, Paul Baumbach, Newark, Raymond Seigfried, Wilmington, John Kowalko, Newark and Edward Osienski, Newark.

Similar efforts in Delaware were met with opposition and failed in 2017 and 2018.

Bishop Malooly encouraged lawmakers in a 2018 letter to defeat the measure.

“The Catholic Church is opposed to physician-assisted suicide legislation because it seeks to legalize and normalize the intentional taking of human life,” the bishop wrote. “This deliberate activity violates the most basic tenets of our belief in the sanctity of life and simultaneously poses dangers to vulnerable populations.”

The Delaware Catholic Action Network, other faith groups, the Medical Society of Delaware, Delaware Health Care Association and advocates for persons with disabilities have previously fought to prevent the legislation from becoming law and are gearing up again to turn away physician-assisted suicide efforts.

Some of the bill’s flaws as identified by DCAN include:

  • The bill would legalize and normalize participation in the intentional taking of life by members of the medical profession.
  • It lacks adequate safeguards to protect people with disabilities, the elderly and those suffering from mental illness. Once lethal drugs have been prescribed, the proposal has no requirements for assessing a patient’s consent, competency, or voluntariness.
  • The drugs prescribed under the law are so highly addictive and easily misused that they are put into the same drug category by the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as cocaine, OxyContin, and fentanyl, to name a few. Each prescription would contain ONE HUNDRED of these pills, exposing our communities to a new source of addiction and lives lost too soon to drug misuse.
  • The law appears to limit eligibility to terminally ill patients who are expected to die within six months but doesn’t distinguish between people who get treatment and those who do not.
  • HB 140 does not require a psychological evaluation unless the prescribing doctor or the doctor selected to give a second opinion request it.
  • The bill would require physicians and others to make misstatements on official records. The bill states that the underlying terminal illness – and not suicide — must be listed as the cause of death on the death certificate.

    DCAN is urging voters to contact legislators and voice opposition to the proposal.

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