Vermont Legalizes Assisted Suicide: Death Panels?

Vermont became the fourth state to legalize assisted suicide. Of course, they don’t call it that. And they don’t call it euthanasia either. They call it “death with dignity.” It’s hard to believe that people were actually cheering on the Vermont Governor as he signed the Death with Dignity Act into law. What about this is worthy of cheering?

Now, there are certain stipulations in the new law that place restrictions on who can and cannot receive “end-of-life” drugs to hasten their own demise:

“Under the bill, a qualifying patient must be at least 18 years old, a Vermont resident and suffering from an “incurable and irreversible disease,” with less than six months to live. Two physicians, including the prescribing doctor, must make that medical determination. The patient must also be told of other end-of-life services, ‘including palliative care, comfort care, hospice care, and pain control,’ according to the bill.”

But all those restrictions are subject to change. This bill is just their foot in the door. The 6-month stipulation might be amended later to be 1 year, or maybe they’ll scrap it altogether. Maybe eventually they’ll change the 2 physicians rule to 1 or only require the consent of the patient.

Just look at what the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) has become in the UK. It’s similar to hospice care in that doctors will place patients on it when they believe the patient’s death is imminent. But many in the UK such as Professor and neurologist Patrick Pullicino say that the LCP is being abused:

“There are around 450,000 deaths in Britain each year of people who are in hospital or under NHS care. Around 29 per cent – 130,000 – are of patients who were on the LCP. Professor Pullicino claimed that far too often elderly patients who could live longer are placed on the LCP and it had now become an ‘assisted death pathway rather than a care pathway.’ He cited ‘pressure on beds and difficulty with nursing confused or difficult-to-manage elderly patients’ as factors. Professor Pullicino revealed he had personally intervened to take a patient off the LCP who went on to be successfully treated.”

So the LCP kills off about 130,000 elderly people a year. And it’s done legally and with doctors’ consent. Is it really that far-fetched to imagine this sort of thing happening here? Especially with Obamacare and talk of death panels and rising healthcare costs. It seems that “death with dignity” will be quite useful in keeping costs down by eliminating the sick and elderly. Sure, for now it’s just four states, and there are stipulations with who can be granted their death wish. Give it a few years, and death panels will be out in the open giving their expert advice on who is worth treating and who isn’t. Or, “death with dignity” panels.








Comments

comments

Posted in Ethics, Healthcare, Law Tagged with: , , ,
  • freestoneriver

    There is another point that should be considered and one in which I have personal experience. My 90-year-old mother was stricken with a massive stroke that left her unable to speak or to care for herself in any way. Her living will called for no artificial life support including feeding tubes, etc. She was a strong woman who repeated told her children that she detested the idea of having to be cared for in any way. Upon a neurologist’s advice, the family all agreed to to have her placed in hospice. The nice folks at hospice insisted that her mind was winding down and she would not feel hunger or thirst. That was B.S. It took her a week to die and as far as I can tell it was from dehydration. I was there for the whole thing and it is haunting me. We treat dogs better than that. We treat death-row inmates better than that. I am running to change my living will. If I ever suffer from a massive stroke and am unable to fend for myself, my family will be pre-instructed to get me to Vermont ASAP!