Friday, February 27, 2015

Ann Freeman: California’s bill has no safeguards against elder abuse or for those who change their minds

On the surface, if you only consider the wishes of a single individual, assisted suicide legislation might seem reasonable, and the media flurry surrounding the case of Brittany Maynard has made it seem that way.

But it is important to look at the significant dangers of legalizing assisted suicide as public policy for all Californians, particularly those who might not have a strong support system; access to health care, palliative care and hospice; or the benefit of a loving, caring family. Assisted suicide legislation has many unintended consequences that can impact the vast majority of us.

As a former hospital social worker for many years, my primary concern is for individuals who might feel pressured into ending their lives. Elder abuse in the United States is rampant, and the vast majority of the perpetrators are family members. I have worked with wonderful, supportive family members, but not all that I have worked with were like this. Some were abusive and stole money from their disabled and elderly relatives.

Nothing in the proposed assisted suicide law protects patients when family pressures, whether financial or emotional, distort the ill person’s choice. And nothing prevents an heir, who stands to benefit from the patient’s death, from helping the patient sign up for the lethal dose.

No assisted suicide “safeguard” can ever protect against coercion. In this era of managed care, will those living with a disability and the seriously ill be more likely offered lethal prescriptions in place of medical treatment? A prescription for 100 Seconal tablets costs far less than most medical treatments, especially considering the cost of long-term care for someone living with a disability.

This scenario has already become a reality in Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal.

The oncologist for cancer patient Barbara Wagner prescribed a specific chemotherapy to extend her life, which was her choice. Her insurance provider, Oregon’s state-run health plan, denied coverage of the treatment but offered, in writing, to pay for her assisted suicide. The same thing happened to Randy Stroup, also of Oregon. When assisted suicide is legal, it becomes just another treatment option.

Would you trust an insurance company to “do the right thing” or the cheapest thing for their bottom line?

In California’s Death with Dignity bill, there is no oversight after the lethal dose of barbiturates is picked up from the pharmacy and no requirement for an outside witness to be present when the deadly drugs are taken. There would be no one there to know whether or not a patient changes her mind or decides that she isn’t ready to die. There would be no one there to know if the individual has taken the pills on her own or if someone else put the lethal dose in a feeding tube.

There are many key opponents to legalizing assisted suicide. These include the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the American College of Physicians, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the American Cancer Society and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Assisted suicide is bad medicine for California and puts too many people at risk.
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Full Article & Source:
Ann Freeman: California’s bill has no safeguards against elder abuse or for those who change their minds


StandUp said...

Well said. The surface is quite different than the reality.

mitzy said...

My sister and I saw my mother (seperated from father for at least 20 years ) and my brother ( life long greedy and helpless moocher off both) murder our father with hospices help and sanction against his wishes and berate him into disinheriting us. No one was interested in helping us help him. The minute this poor man got terminaly diagnosed he was dead man walking. The abuses I saw will haunt me the rest of my life. We are all estranged forever..which is fine with me as I couldnt bear to even speak to the people that did the unspeakable to my poor sick father. If you aren't on their paperwork (the killers isolate the elderly ill from you) in tactics that are as old as abusive individuals have been abusing the weak.) no one cares what is happening. Just like the abusers prey on women and children in the secrecy of abusers are doing the same. No one seems to care. Or believes those of us that know.

mitzy said...

By the time my sister and I found out he was really I'll till he was shamefully murdered was one month..he was given six months to live. No one turned over to the death squads lives longer...unless the family that really care intervenes...if the bad seeds beat you to the paperwork..power of attorney first forget it. These folks are being killed by appointment to hospice where greedy sick minded relatives are recruited to finish the job.

mitzy said...

Our" loving family caregivers" made this man sicker then dumped him in a hospice sponsored facility that offered him NO care at all. Myself, my sister and his grandaughter rescued him from their "wait for him to die of neglect and starvation" nursing home.

We took him home to his house and tried to care for him there with NO help from these two "loving" relatives that held all the power over him or from hospice that could clearly see the abuse and neglect but ignored it and myself and sister and the rest of the entire families concern for this appalling outcome. No one cared as he was dying anyway.

We sadly didnt comprehend what was really going on, only to find and finally understand all this "doesnt make any sense" after his death and the role hospice and sadly my own mother and brother were "playing" in his demise so they got everything he had. He was robbed and murdered because he got ill.

This is sick in a civilized society. Yet, we condone this and utterly deny the frequency this is happening in the MAJORITY of elder care cases. Of course it is under one has the money to fight this level of corruption.

mitzy said...

I agree standup. We know what is happening in reality. The sick and dying and abused elderly need peta and the spca. They don't even rate that level of protection and are being uthanized for a profit margin.