With a special thank you to the author and nurse advocate, Elizabeth C. Hanink, on our 53rd wedding anniversary!
After a long and arduous battle and bi-partisan opposition, in 2015 California’s legislature approved physician-assisted suicide (PAS) through the End-of-Life Option Act. With this law, any competent adult resident with an illness predicted to cause death within six months may opt to end his or her life with medication prescribed by a physician. As of this writing, ten states have passed laws allowing physician-assisted suicide, and the number is increasing. The American Solidarity Party (ASP) opposes such laws and related legislation allowing for euthanasia regardless of the safeguards supposedly included.
Our reasons are multiple. The most important is that from conception until natural death, each person regardless of sex, race, or religion is created in the image and likeness of God with an inherent dignity that cannot be denied. This dignity is not dependent on the will of another. Nor is it limited by disability, socio-economic status, or patient “preference.” While we have no obligation to suffer unnecessarily or endure treatment that is extraordinary or of no benefit, we do not have the right to take our own lives nor that of another.
With respect to the End-of-Life Option Act specifically, the American Solidarity Party has several objections.
- It is quite possible to err with respect to diagnosis and prognosis. Many people live well beyond the estimated six months predicted. Errors in diagnosis occur less frequently but are still common.
- It is difficult to distinguish between cases of severe depression, which are quite common during a terminal illness, and a genuine desire to end one’s life. It is easy for vulnerable people to be pressured into making a request for suicide against their true wishes. The protections lauded by proponents of such laws provide neither control, peace of mind, nor real autonomy.
- Several safeguards written into the California law are now in question. The review process scheduled for 2025 is under fire. Senator Susan Eggman (D-District 5) has proposed SB 380, which will eliminate any scrutiny of California’s experience with the law. Even now annual reports do not provide adequate data on reasons for accepting these deadly drugs, on complications, or on whether the patient received information about accessible hospice and palliative care. The new bill would also eliminate the 15-day safety period to receive the drugs allowed under the End-of-Life Option Act.
What does the American Solidarity Party advocate instead of PAS and euthanasia?
- Repeal of the End-of-Life Options Act.
- Thorough record-keeping of statistics, with annual review and publication, on physician-assisted suicide; this review needs to include numbers of prescriptions issued and acted upon, complications, psychiatric referrals to rule out depression, genuine second opinions related to prognosis, demographic data, and other relevant information.