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"Hot" religious topics

Menu

Euthanasia & Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS).
All sides to the issue.

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Quotations:

bullet "Whose life is it, anyway?" A plea by the late Sue Rodrigues, a high-profile, terminally-ill resident of British Columbia, Canada, who suffered from ALS. 1 She was helped to commit suicide by a physician in violation of Canadian law in the presence of a Member of Parliament. Neither the doctor nor the MP were prosecuted.
 
bullet "We are disappointed at the decision. The president remains fully committed to building a culture of life ... that is built on valuing life at all stages." White House spokesman Scott McClellan speaking for President George W. Bush, responding to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2006-JAN which found the Oregon physician assisted suicide legislation to be constitutional. 2
 
bullet "The right to a good death is a basic human freedom. The [2006-JAN] Supreme Court's decision to uphold aid in dying allows us to view and act on death as a dignified moral and godly choice for those suffering with terminal illnesses." John Shelby Spong, retired bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA.  3

Overview:

Throughout North America, committing suicide or attempting to commit suicide is no longer a criminal offense. However, helping another person commit suicide is generally considered a criminal act. Three exceptions are the states of:

bullet Oregon which, since 1997, has allowed people who are terminally ill, in intractable pain, and not depressed to obtain a lethal prescription from their physician which they may decide to consume and end their chronic suffering. This is called "Physician Assisted Suicide" or PAS.
 
bullet Washington voters passed Initiative 1000 in 2008-NOV. Supporters call it a "Death with Dignity bill;" opponents call it an "Assisted Suicide" measure. Both are accurate descriptions. It is simlilar to the Oregon law.
 
bullet Montana's Montana Supreme Court legalized PAS in a decision handed down on 2009-DEC-31. Unfortunately, it does not have the system of safeguards in place that the laws in Oregon and Washington have

There were four failed ballot initiatives between 1991 and 2000:

bullet 1991: Washington state: defeated narrowly 54% to 46%
bullet 1992: California: Defeated narrowly 54% to 46%
bullet 1998: Michigan: Defeated overwhelmingly 71% to 29%
bullet 2000: Maine: Defeated very narrowly 51% to 49%.

Between 1994 and 2010, there have been in excess of 75 legislative bills to legalize PAS in at least 21 states. All failed to become law. 4

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For frequent updates on assisted suicide topics, consult:

  • The Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC) is a pro-choice agency. They issue periodic newsletters covering recent developments on this topic. See http://www.deathwithdignity.org/ to view the most recent newsletter and/or to sign up for Email updates.

  • The International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide is a pro-life agency that opposes physician assisted suicide. They have a list of recent news items on their home page at: http://www.internationaltaskforce.org/

Topics covered in this section:

bullet Introduction to Euthanasia & PAS:

bullet Definitions of terms related to euthanasia
 
bullet The verbal battle
 
bullet Ethical aspects
 
bullet Policies of various faith groups
 
bullet Public opinion. A novel advertising campaign
 
bullet Euthanasia and Terri  Schiavo

bullet About living wills
 
bullet Does the availability of PAS actually increase pain experienced by dying patients?
 
bullet Status of euthanasia / PAS in:
bullet The U.S.: Oregon law, U.S. Supreme Court decision, California, Montana, Washington, recent events, etc.
 
bullet

Australia:

bullet

Canada:

bullet The Netherlands (Holland)
 
bullet The UK: England, Scotland, Wales:
bullet 1999 to 2006
bullet 2007 to now
 
bullet Elsewhere in the world
 
bullet Links to web sites
 
bullet Books 

Related essays in this web site:

bullet Suicide
bullet Suicide passages in the Bible
bullet Criminalizing suicide information sources
bullet Sources of information on suicide methods on the Internet

bullet The medical management of pain

Full disclosure:

The author of this section is approaching his mid 70's. End of life issues have taken on a personal aspect. Being an Agnostic, he does not fear death. He does not fear being dead. However, he has considerable fear of the process of dying, which for some people in North America is an agonizingly painful and lengthy process during which time one's enjoyment of life often drops to zero and becomes negative. Fortunately for him, he lives in Canada which -- like all other developed countries other than the U.S. -- has universal health care. Unfortunately, pain management is often as poorly managed in Canada as it is in the U.S. He regards suicide as a civil right and would prefer that he have access to a means of suicide if life becomes unbearable. He thus strongly supports legalizing physician assisted suicide.

However, he has attempted to remain impartial, objective and fair while writing these essays.

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References used:

  1. "A Newsletter from the Honorable Sharon Carstairs, Senator For Manitoba," 1995-OCT, at: http://sen.parl.gc.ca/
  2. James Vicini, "Court rules govt. can't stop Oregon suicide law," Reuters News Agency, 2005-JAN-17, at: http://today.reuters.com/
  3. "Bishop Spong Q&A on Death with dignity," Agoramedia mailing, 2006-JAN-18.
  4. Kathi Hamlon, "Failed Attempts to Legalize Euthanasia/Assisted-Suicide in the United States," International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, at: http://www.internationaltaskforce.org/

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Copyright © 1997 to 2010, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated on 2010-NOV-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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