How State and Federal Lawmakers Can Promote Ethical Options for the Terminally Ill

The Daily Signal | 3/20/2019 | Staff
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Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., a seasoned veteran of more than three decades in Washington policymaking, is a senior fellow in domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation.

Abigail Slagle is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

Debate - Suicide - Maryland - Legislator - Story

During the emotionally charged debate recently over physician-assisted suicide in Maryland, one legislator told the story of a former state senator who was comatose. He was given a mere 1 percent chance of survival, but today that senator has recovered and is alive and well.

Unlike alternative treatment options, there is no “do over” with physician-assisted suicide.

Lawmakers - States - Suicide - Stakes - Champions

As lawmakers in several other states weigh physician-assisted suicide, the stakes could not be higher. While champions of assisted suicide often cite the futility of continuing treatment for patients believed to be terminally ill, medical prognoses are never completely certain.

By legalizing physician-assisted suicide, state lawmakers repudiate traditional medical ethics. The Hippocratic oath, which has governed Western medical ethics for over 2,000 years, says: “I will keep [the sick] from harm and injustice. I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.”

State - Lawmakers - Pledge - Morality - Killing

If state lawmakers refuse to preserve this ancient pledge of medical morality, not only will they legalize medical killing, but they will also normalize the practice as socially acceptable. This endangers the most vulnerable members of society–the poor, the marginalized, and the mentally and physically disabled.

Some proponents of physician-assisted suicide insist it is a humane practice, claiming it allows patients an opportunity to end their lives with dignity and on their own terms.

Others - Compassionate - Option - Suffering - Others

Others justify assisted suicide as a “compassionate” option because they believe it prevents human suffering. Still others claim it saves families and taxpayers from the crushing burden of big medical bills.

For seniors, the rhetoric of cost control in government...
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