Assisted Suicide Initiative Filed in Washington State: Death with Dignity or Euthanasia?

Would you have confidence in a medical community that offers assisted suicide as a viable option for patients? Would you dare to leave the “treatment” of the most vulnerable—the sick, disabled and elderly—patients in the hands of  those who seek to advance the culture of death?

Suicide advocates strive once again to advance their territory in Washington State. This time the target is our most weak and vulnerable citizens—those terminally ill, disabled and elderly. By enlisting the help of former Governor Booth Gardner, stricken with Parkinson’s disease, suicide advocates hope to invoke your sympathy for their anti-life agenda.

Victims of suffering do invoke compassion and many of us have walked that journey. However, the former Governor has begun what he calls his “last campaign” to legalize physician-assisted suicide in the state of Washington. The implications of his campaign are tragic.

Under the euphemism “It’s My Decision”, advocates of assisted suicide are attempting to gather enough signatures for the November 2008 ballot. If passed, Washington would become the second state in the nation to legalize the administration of life-ending drugs. Ironically, Booth Gardner’s disease is a non-fatal condition and his campaign calls for a state law that permits life-ending drugs for anyone whose suffering is “unbearable”.

The sponsors of this measure have modeled the initiative after Oregon’s but there are many problems with the Oregon State law, including weak safeguards, ineffective oversight and a “rigged” reporting system. There is also evidence of ‘doctor shopping’ in Oregon where a patient simply finds another doctor when their own refuses to prescribe lethal drugs.

This is not a partisan issue, in fact, even Gov. Gregoire, feeling vulnerable in this election year, declared her opposition to the measure saying she finds it, “very, very difficult to support assisted suicide.” Republican candidate for Governor Dino Rossi, also spoke out against the initiative.
The Washington State Medical Association stands opposed to this measure along with other organizations who deal most closely with dying patients. They understand the only true ‘safeguard’ against abuse of the practice is to keep assisted suicide illegal.

A coalition of medical professionals have joined together to oppose the assisted suicide initiative. The coalition includes people with disabilities, doctors, nurses, hospice workers, minority persons and religious groups.
Spokesman for the nonpartisan group Coalition Against Assisted Suicide, Duane French, said, “The judgment of people with a terminal illness is often clouded by depression. Assisting people at their most vulnerable point to end their lives is not compassion, it is negligence.”

Who can predict when someone will die? And what about the desperate state of our current health care system? Would persons without adequate healthcare coverage feel obligated to end their own lives so they don’t overburden the system? Sick and disabled patients might feel pressured to ease the hardship on relatives and society.
This is not the first time Washington voters faced such a dreadful initiative.

In 1991 our state defeated the initiative by 54 percent to 46 percent.  Twenty-five other states have rejected attempts to legalize assisted suicide. Let’s not give in to their misguided and self-serving agenda.

What you can do:

-Fight for life! Make use of every opportunity to educate yourself and others. Washington Eagle Forum will once again be active on the front lines opposing this initiative. Our web site will be a valuable source of timely information and important links to assist you.

-Ask your doctor if he/she opposes assisted suicide. Provide your doctor with information and ask him to join the efforts of other principled physicians opposing this initiative.

-Educate your pastor. Don’t assume he’s informed or even plans to address this issue. It’s your responsibility to equip him to speak boldly on this issue to the church.

-Pray that supporters of this dangerous initiative fall short of the number of signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot. This would be a stunning blow to their efforts. Just remember, when we defeated them in 1991 it took them 16 years to re-group. This time, let’s defeat them for good!