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March 27, 2007

Suicide Bill Should Be Labeled 'Covert Abuses Act'

Topics: Assisted Suicide

The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association today voiced strong opposition to a bill (AB 374), reviewed Tuesday by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, that would legalize assisted suicide in California.

The national organization of physicians added its voice to the American Medical Association and the California Medical Association in opposing the bill as a lethal threat to patients and the medical profession.

Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association, said "This bill invites patient abuse, prevents investigations of patient abuse and covers up incidents of patient abuse. Instead of being called the Compassionate Choices Act, this bill should be called the Covert Abuses Act."

"Backers of this bill say they want to imitate Oregon, and state reporting requirements under this bill mirror Oregon's. That means that every year, state bureaucrats produce a single page of text that tells how many forms were processed, how many prescriptions were written and how many assisted suicides were reported.

"No media, watchdog organizations or concerned citizens are permitted to review individual cases, even with personal information blocked out. The state does not even investigate each individual suicide. No one will ever know if patients were pressured to die because they had no health insurance, or because a greedy family member wanted to preserve his inheritance, or because a doctor or insurer calculated that suicide was more efficient than palliative care. The state health department relies on the very people who abuse patients to report their own abuse.

"Every now and then, however, a real life case emerges that reveals the gross inadequacies of the state assisted suicide reports.

"An Oregon patient named Michael Freeland suffered severe depression. Yet Mr. Freeland received a lethal prescription to commit suicide, based on what proved to be his pro-suicide doctor's widely inaccurate prognosis of just six months to live. These violations of the supposed protections of the assisted suicide legislation, of course, never made it into state reports.

"Thankfully for Mr. Freeland, he subsequently mistakenly contacted a group of physicians who do not assist in suicide. These physicians and others helped Mr. Freeland receive treatment for his depression, helped him reconcile with an estranged family member, and provided effective pain control at the end of his life.

"Michael Freeland escaped the abuses of assisted suicide, but how many others did not? We may never know."

Cross-posted: prolifeblogs

Posted by tim at March 27, 2007 5:44 PM

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