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Nine reasons to oppose “Death with Dignity” laws

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It was only about 6 months ago when the young and beautiful Brittany Maynard brought new attention to the topic of physician-assisted suicideafter her highly publicized decision to end her own life under the Oregon “Death with Dignity” act.

Suddenly, new bills advocating for physician-assisted suicide began cropping up all over the country at the beginning of legislative sessions in January, but what’s interesting is that most of these bills died before they ever made it out of committee or out of the respective state legislature.

St. Joseph, patron saint of a happy death, on his deathbed surrounded by Jesus and Mary. Credit: Lawrence OP via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) 

St. Joseph, patron saint of a happy death, on his deathbed surrounded by Jesus and Mary. Credit: Lawrence OP via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Even though Maynard’s story gave a fresh face and raised new awareness about the legalization of assisted suicide, the fact is that “Death with Dignity” bills are almost always rejected by lawmakers and the general public alike. There have been over 100 attempts to legalize physician-assisted suicide in the past 20 years, but it is still only legal in Oregon, Washington and Vermont, while Montana and New Mexico provide protections for doctors who are prosecuted for assisted suicide. Proposed assisted suicide bills failed in many states just this year including Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Connecticut, Nevada and Maryland.

A recent Marist poll sponsored by the Knights of Columbus found that 61 percent of Americans do not support physician-assisted suicide, and 57 percent said that the legalization of such measures would lead them to distrust their doctors. Only 22 percent said they saw the issue as a legislative priority this year.

The hype and emotion surrounding Brittany Maynard’s case have clouded some of the facts and concerns regarding the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of nine reasons to oppose “Death with Dignity” legislation, should these bills come to a vote in your state or should the topic arise in conversations with family or friends.

Pills. Credit: David K via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)Pills. Credit: David K via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

1) Disability rights groups are opposed to “death with dignity” bills. They say it discriminates against the disabled and could lead to pressure on them to end their own lives.

2) Under many proposed assisted suicide bills, people would not be screened for depression when they request life-ending drugs. This is a huge problem. Studies have shown the majority of patients who request assisted suicide will withdraw that request when they are treated for depression.

3) These bills send the social message that suicide is an acceptable way to handle pain and suffering. When anyone else threatens to kill themselves, we intervene and stop them. This would change that standard. If suicide works for a terminal patient, why not for someone who has lost their job, or their spouse or their home? We should not be sending the message that suicide is a solution to problems.

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Source: Catholic News Agency : http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/blog/nine-reasons-to-oppose-death-with-dignity-laws/

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