The American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF) unequivocally supports doctors who stand behind the Hippocratic Oath, their religious and philosophical beliefs, and their professional judgment. Doctors across the state of Vermont who have stood in opposition to Act 39 have good reason to do so: this legislation has legalized doctors prescribing death by way of lethal drugs. As these doctors come under attack by a recent lawsuit which seeks to require them to discuss death as a solution, the ACUF commends their efforts to treat and care for patients facing one of life’s most difficult stages: dying.
“Patients and their families confront many difficult decisions under extreme anxiety and worry as illnesses bring about pain, discomfort, and changes to physical abilities. Doctors should be enabled to discuss the goals and worries of the patient’s remaining days openly, while treating and minimizing the effects of harsh diseases,” said Jackie Anderson, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the ACUF. “These patients, families, and doctors should not be forced by law into conversations about lethal drugs. That is telling a patient that those final days with family and loved ones are not worth it. And that’s simply not true.”
Facts support doctors and patients who understand the harmful impact of discussing physician assisted suicide (PAS) and wish instead to focus on living through dying. Once a doctor brings up death as an option, a patient is more likely to believe he should strongly consider suicide, with the alternative having been framed as a burden. And in states where PAS is spreading, suicide is skyrocketing; in Oregon, which legalized PAS in 1997, the state has seen more than 50% increase in suicide rates. Just as alarming, the intergenerational impacts cannot be overlooked: suicide is now the second leading cause of death among adolescent Oregonians.
Vermont residents facing terminal diagnoses deserve to have their lives and dignity guarded and doctors in the state should protected from being forced to kill a patient, rather than treat her.