Anita Cameron: Physician Assisted Suicide Removes Choice

Often, the first charge of proponents of physician assisted suicide (PAS) to those of us who are against it is “you are taking away my choice to die when I want to by fighting against assisted suicide legislation”.

Try as I may, I simply cannot understand that view. How am I taking away their choice? Aren’t there choices of when and how to die without physician assisted suicide? Does assisted suicide offer real choice to its proponents?

Currently, and contrary to popular misconception, suicide is not illegal in the United States. If someone is sick and in great pain, they can choose to end their life in a number of ways, including stopping treatment, stopping nutrition and water, or taking an overdose of pain pills that are already available. For a terminally ill person, hospice stands ready to make the first two approaches painless and peaceful.

The “choice”, loosely speaking, that proponents are talking about is to be able to ask their doctor for life-ending medications and if their own doctor says no, the ability to doctor shop until they find a doctor who will agree to their request.

Unfortunately, physician assisted suicide offers no actual choices. PAS removes choice by opening the way for insurance companies to deny payment for lifesaving or life-extending treatments and medications, but state that they are willing to pay for the suicide cocktail or drug instead. This has already happened in Oregon and California. Insurance companies are concerned about their bottom line; chemotherapy and other life-saving or extending drugs and treatments cost thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, while the cost of suicide drugs is much cheaper and co-pays are sometimes as low as $1.20. With Congress set on doing away with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replacing it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA), insurance companies will be even more emboldened to take away people’s choice in health care.

If proponents took the time to think beyond their personal experiences as typically more privileged members of society, they would also see that what they view as choice is actually giving a doctor permission to devalue the lives of people with disabilities and communities of color, two groups who get notoriously inferior health care from the medical profession.

As someone whose mother was erroneously determined to be terminally ill and whose father was denied essential treatments and surgeries because doctors determined that he had “no quality of life” due to his disability, I am sympathetic to people wanting to have the choice to take matters into their own hands when that time comes for them. The thing is, that choice is already available. Physician assisted suicide is not that choice. There is no good in such legislation, only harm.

2 thoughts on “Anita Cameron: Physician Assisted Suicide Removes Choice

  1. These are the points that I have used when confronted by an AS proponent.

    They continue to bleat on and on about “choice” without fully understanding what choice actually means.

    In the UK, “Dignity in Dying” repeatedly uses the erroneous and totally flawed figure of 82% of the population being in favour of AS.

    Despite the fact that it is all but impossible to get 82% of the population to agree on any issue whatsoever, DiD convinced journalist Rohan Kachroo to repeat that figure in a major BBC News Broadcast.

    We know that the actual number of people that support DiD and like organisations throughout the world is very small but they are running quite a slick campaign and gradually convincing more and more legislatures to introduce legislation to decriminalise AS.

    DiD appeals to one of humankind’s greatest emotions – compassion. Anyone opposing their entirely reasoned and compassionate arguments in favour of AS is branded as belonging to a heartless, illogical and cruel minority.

    Trying to confront them head on as individuals with reason will never work and we are deluding ourselves if we believe that it is worth expending the time and energy to do so.

    However, if DiD and like organisations are left unchallenged their drive towards AS for all will surely accelerate.

  2. Strong and ugly and BRAVE truth in this commentary by Dianne Coleman. It’s always about the money and PAS is a choice that saves money for the big special interests, the Health Insurers and the Hospitals, the Medical Industrial Complex in the USA. The Medical Industrial Complex increases its share of the Gross National Product each year. Those most vulnerable populations; the elderly, the disabled, the poor, the mentally ill are sacrificed to fiscal expediency that protects the profits.the MIC.

    It’s obvious that the Courts have been infected as well as Do Not Resuscitate Code Status and the failure of the Congress to define “medical futility” in the 1991 PSDA law protects the big interests and the sacrifice of these vulnerable populations to the profit motives of the special interests.

    The news media, the networks, are owned by consolidated big interests, as well, who work together with the big networks to keep the public ignorant and to HIDE the sacrifice of these most vulnerable populations to the profits of the Medical Industrial Complex.

    Sadly, it appears that nobody cares. Both the Democrats and the Republicans are complicit; Do these vulnerable populations have anyone in government working to protect them; to protect Social Security and Medicare? Or are they sold out, always, to the highest bidders in the political spectrum? Murder of the disabled and the elderly and the poor is defined in the eyes of the beholder, the federal and state government and the courts, who prefer to bury their heads in the sand.


    I remain shocked that the attemp[ed murder of my husband who was on Medicare and Tricare for Life, and who was a retired regulart Army Officer, shot at in three wars, was swept under the rug by state government.

    State government prefers to ignore the fact that hospitals are misusing DNR code stratus to shorten the lives of elderly/disabled pesons when reimbursement protocols approved by the Congress for Medicare/Medicaid and Advantage Insurers prohibit any further reimbursement of expensive hospital treatment under medical insurance for those with a prognosis six months to a year to live, MORE or LESS. .

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