Two More States Debate Whether PAS is Right for Patients
Recent news on the continued battle against physician-assisted suicide across the country highlights two states where current legislation is being hotly debated. Bills filed in Delaware and New York raise the same concerns and flawed logic seen in legislation considered in Maryland and countless other states. Proponents of PAS have returned to file these bills in these states again, though the legislation has failed to pass the state legislature several times.
The bill in Delaware, among other criteria, calls for patients to wait 15 days after their initial request and mental evaluation to get their end of life drugs. The bill’s main sponsor, Rep. Paul Baumbach, reportedly concedes that his bill may not pass this session even though he filed a similar bill two years ago.
Opponents of Baumbach’s bill, including The Medical Society of Delaware, are strongly opposed to any PAS legislation. The group, whose membership includes over 1,600 physicians throughout the State of Delaware, is not in favor of the Delaware measure, telling Delaware Public Media that the bill is “fundamentally inconsistent with the physician’s role as a healer.”
The group’s president-elect, OB-GYN Dr. Richard Henderson, says as a doctor he is not comfortable deciding whether a patient is in the proper mental state to make such a decision:
“I have an opportunity to work with women as they approach some aspect of the end of their lives because of a cancer diagnosis and I can tell you that I’m not prepared for it.”
In New York, doubts about recently filed PAS legislation threaten its passage. The bill is the same as previously filed legislation and it is modeled after Oregon’s law and both Republicans and Democrats have serious concerns about the need for such a law. New York Senate Republican Majority Leader John Flanagan tells the Times-Union:
…he personally remains opposed to aid in dying and expressed concerns about exactly how one defines such a practice.
“On these issues, will be we deliberative? Yes,” Flanagan said. “I can’t fathom a circumstance where we would take any action on legislation like that — in the Senate” without further discussion in the Senate this year.
Like Maryland, more and more states are realizing that PAS is not the right path for people making critical health care decisions. Even after years of debate and multiple reviews of proposed legislation, the message is clear: physician-assisted suicide is wrong and it is dangerous.