By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Assisted suicide bills have currently been introduced in 10 US states including: Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. We expect several more states to introduce an assisted suicide bill in 2024.
Some of the assisted suicide bills are being debated in states that are not likely to legalized assisted suicide, while other states are more concerning. All of these bills should be treated seriously
No new state has legalized assisted suicide in the past two years, but they have expanded assisted suicide laws in states that have legalized assisted suicide. The assisted suicide lobby remains relentless.
The key to holding the line on assisted suicide is to stop states from legalizing it. The key to defeating an assisted suicide bill is to call it what it is. The purpose of assisted suicide is to cause death.
The other key to defeating assisted suicide bills is to clearly explain what the assisted suicide bill says.
The assisted suicide lobby will use false terminology and try to sell assisted suicide as a form of healthcare that provide “choice” at the end-of-life. Assisted suicide is not healthcare or aid in dying and it provides death at the end of life.
The assisted suicide lobby claims that there is no slippery slope, yet, in the past few years nearly every assisted suicide law has been expanded by: reducing or eliminating the waiting periods, allowing non-doctors to participate in assisted suicide, allowing assisted suicide approvals by tele-health, expanding the meaning of terminal illness and removing the state residency requirement.
For instance, Amy Paulin, who has sponsored the New York assisted suicide bill, has said that they need to get the bill passed first and then expand it later.
J.M. Sorrell, Executive Director of Massachusetts Death with Dignity, was quoted on a similar bill as saying,
“Once you get something passed, you can always work on amendments later.”
One of our greatest concerns is that the assisted suicide lobby has forced Oregon and Vermont to remove their residency requirement.
Back in October 2021, the assisted suicide lobby launched a court case challenging the Oregon assisted suicide residency requirement. Instead of defending the residency requirement, the Oregon government, in March 2022, agreed to remove the residency requirement.
A February 2023 article by James Reinl for the Daily Mail reported that Dr. Nicholas Gideonse had opened the first assisted suicide clinic in Oregon to prescribe lethal assisted suicide drugs for death tourists. At least one person from Texas and an east coast resident has died by assisted suicide in Oregon
As for Vermont, in August, 2022, the assisted suicide lobby launched a lawsuit challenging Vermont’s assisted suicide residency requirement.
Lisa Rathke reported in March 2023 for the Associated Press that Vermont’s attorney general’s office reached an agreement with the assisted suicide lobby and dropped the Vermont assisted suicide residency requirement.
New Jersey is facing similar pressure to permit assisted suicide tourism. In August, 2023 the assisted suicide lobby launched a lawsuit to force the state of New Jersey to drop its assisted suicide residency requirement. The lawsuit claims that the New Jersey assisted suicide law is unconstitutional because it denies equal treatment.
If the residency requirement in the New Jersey assisted suicide law is removed, the assisted suicide lobby will establish an assisted suicide clinic in New Jersey to assist the suicides of people in the neighboring states that have not legalized assisted suicide.
The assisted suicide lobby is aware that they will not be able to legalize assisted suicide in every state but by forcing states to permit suicide tourism, assisted suicide will then become available to every American.
The good news is that in April 2023, The United Spinal Association, Not Dead Yet, Institute for Patients’ Rights, Communities Actively Living Independent and Free, Lonnie VanHook, and Ingrid Tischer have launched a lawsuit to strike down the California assisted suicide law with the goal of the case going to the United States Supreme Court to strike down assisted laws throughout the US.
The case asserts that the assisted suicide act is a discriminatory scheme, which creates a two-tiered medical system in which people who are suicidal receive radically different treatment responses by their physicians and protections from the State depending on whether the person has what the physician deems to be a “terminal disease”—which, by definition, is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.