We’ve been told by assisted suicide advocates that doctors would prescribe lethal doses of opioids to their

cancer patients who wanted “aid in dying,” or that patients would stockpile their pain medications to accumulate a lethal dose, practices encouraged by the Hemlock Society. This, they argue, is why the practice should be legalized. “It’s happening anyway,” they would say.

Now doctors can do so with complete immunity from any criminal, civil, or professional liability so long as they act “in good faith” (whatever that means). The law also requires the death certificate be falsified to list the underlying illness as the cause of death rather than “drug overdose” or “suicide”. This practice is legal in California.

Meanwhile, California is “terrifying” doctors with its Death Certificate Project. According to this MedPage Today article, “The California project takes death certificates in which prescription opioids are listed as a cause, then matches each with the provider — sometimes more than one — who prescribed any controlled substance to that patient within 3 years of death, regardless of whether the particular drug caused the death or whether that doctor prescribed the lethal dose.” This would of course exclude any PAS deaths since those death certificates are falsified. Clinicians would not get letters from their licencing boards nor be investigated.

The California project takes death certificates in which prescription opioids are listed as a cause, then matches each with the provider — sometimes more than one — who prescribed any controlled substance to that patient within 3 years of death, regardless of whether the particular drug caused the death or whether that doctor prescribed the lethal dose.

Perhaps a significant number of these overdoses are not accidental but are, in fact, intentional suicides. CDC suicide statistics have documented skyrocketing rates of suicide since 1999 (PAS was first legalized in Oregon in 1998). 22% of suicides involved people with physical health conditions. Patients can easily say they are taking their pills when instead they are stockpiling them.


22% of suicides involved people with physical health conditions.

The argument then should be that anyone with “unbearable suffering” should be able to request lethal prescriptions from their doctors. Why limit it only to the terminally ill? It happens anyway, and prescribers should be protected from any sort of responsibility. At least that is the logic of assisted suicide advocates.

How about we flip that argument around. We need to offer the same oversight and protection to those suffering terminal illnesses as we offer all other patients. Prescribed suicide should be illegal. Period.

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