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True Dignity Vermont is a grassroots, independent, citizen-led initiative in opposition to assisted suicide in Vermont. Vermonters deserve true dignity and compassion at the end of life, not the abandonment of assisted suicide. Killing is not compassion, and True Dignity Vermont will work to ensure our end-of-life choices respect the dignity of all Vermont citizens.

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The article linked below appeared in the New York Times on April 18, 2014.

The trend it describes, of medical groups, individual doctors, and  insurance companies making treatment decisions based on cost rather than effectiveness is dangerous in itself but would be much more so in the presence of legal assisted suicide.   The article describes the decisions as being made entirely by professionals, not by patients themselves.  Similar professionals were behind the letters Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup received from the Oregon Health Plan denying coverage for possibly life-prolonging and pain-relieving chemotherapy and offering a list of “comfort care” alternatives, including assisted suicide.

Legal assisted suicide gives doctors and insurance companies even more power over life and death than making treatment decisions on their own already does.  Doctors choose who is and is not eligible for lethal prescriptions.  In some states, like VT, the law requires doctors to inform patients that assisted suicide is an end of life option for them, while allowing the doctors complete discretion about how to present this option.  Death for patients whose treatment might be very expensive is going to be very tempting to doctors who believe that they “understand that we doctors should be and are stewards of the larger society as well as of the patient in our examination room”.   After all, death will always be the very cheapest alternative, and these doctors already seem to be blind to the damage they are doing to “the larger society” by putting economic concerns ahead of patient well-being.

True Dignity respects the need to cut costs by eliminating medical wastefulness, but the article talks about denying treatment that is effective in order to cut costs.  To us that seems like wasting the lives of human beings, either by not even telling them about treatment that might help them, by denying insurance coverage of it because other goods are considered more important, or by steering them toward death instead of any treatment at all.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/business/treatment-cost-could-influence-doctors-advice.html?hpw&rref=us

The linked statement, which appeared in the Journal of Critical Care, does away with whatever illusions anyone had that only the willing are killed under assisted suicide and euthanasia laws.  Euthanasia is legal in  Belgium, but until now patient consent has been required.  Now Belgian doctors are asserting the right to decide which patients, including children, are euthanized.

In the US so-called “assisted suicide” laws do not protect patients who have filled lethal prescriptions from euthanasia, voluntary or involuntary.  Even if the wording about self-administration were not ambiguous, the laws’ failure to require witnesses at the time the lethal dose is ingested leaves patients vulnerable to involuntary euthanasia, or worse.

For now, only those who have gotten the poison are at risk.

If these laws remain in place, however, the myth of consent will inexorably give way to the demands of efficiency, cloaked in the guise of “mercy”.   Who in the world is naive enough to think doctors, who already decide who  can or can’t have a poison prescription where these are legal, won’t just decide exactly when everyone dies?  The doctors in Belgium feel no need even to pretend otherwise.  Unless we can stop the spread of legal assisted suicide, they are the vanguard of what will first be established as custom and then by law: involuntary euthanasia.  That should scare us all.

http://www.jccjournal.org/article/S0883-9441%2813%2900320-1/fulltext

Here’s a link to an excellent piece by Wesley Smith, about how the combination of cost cutting in government funded insurance plans and legal assisted suicide will drive the sick, primarily the elderly, to suicide.  This can happen with private insurance plans too, but we know it has already happened with Oregon’s version of Medicaid, in the Randy Stroup and Barbara Wagner cases.  Smith says that this is coming to VT, among other places.  Boy is he right about VT, where, barring the sudden appearance of a large group of legislators willing to stand up and say no, we will soon be adding single payer health insurance to assisted suicide.

Smith says governments will be driving the dying to assisted suicide.  Of course they will be dying because they won’t be able to get life-extending treatment paid for.  Jeanette Hall, the Oregon cancer patient whose doctor talked her out of using the state’s assisted suicide law and into accepting treatment, is still alive 13 years later.  Thanks goodness she did not get one of those letters from Oregon Medicaid.

http://www.nationalreview.com/human-exceptionalism/374655/how-drive-dying-assisted-suicide-wesley-j-smith

A person with disabilities replies respectfully to a person who committed suicide with assistance at the Swiss suicide clinic Dignitas  and who wrote a letter advocating for assisted sucide to be legalized in his homeland of Canada:

…a vital social ecology is gravely threatened by policies that accept uncritically the proposition that severe physical incapacity strips life of value, dignity and purpose.”

Thanks, Rhonda Wiebe, for sharing this on  Facebook.

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/03/30/a_respectful_postscript_to_edward_hungs_endoflife_letter.html

 

 

Here are the rest of my notes on the CT Hearing for HB 5326 the Assisted Suicide bill.

(The video by CTN of the whole hearing is located here)

Judith Passmore

 Judith Passmore

“I am worth of the same mercy as a dog” that gets put down.

Senator Joe Markley With His friend Cathy Ludlim

Senator Joe Markley Cathy Ludlum

 “Strong opposition”

The disability community has an important perspective on this issue. Why is this a problem for so many of us?

After 3 years of PAS in Washington state, a column in the newspaper suggested Involuntary Assisted Suicide.

“it is not about choice or compassion it’s about disability phobia”

Focus on what people actually need to make their lives fulfilling.

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The Bill is Killed in Committee. And Compassion and Choices Apparently thinks that citizen led groups are “lobbying firms”!  #justplainsilly #momentum #assistedsuicide #connecticut

Full story below from Peter Wolfgang President of Family Institute of Connecticut

(Article From http://www.lifenews.com/2014/03/28/connecticut-bill-to-legalize-assisted-suicide-defeated-in-committee/)

Because the Public Health Committee is not meeting today–their deadline–the Assisted Suicide bill will be officially dead at 5 pm. We told you that defeating the Assisted Suicide bill in Committee was the highest legislative priority of the Family Institute of Connecticut Action in 2014. Today, for the second year in a row, FIC Action and our allies accomplished exactly that.

In fact, in all the years I have been involved with FIC–as volunteer, public policy director and president–we have never defeated a bill as decisively as this one–even more so than last year. This was, quite simply, some of the best work FIC Action has ever done.

picassistedsuicide15Just two days ago, Compassion and Choices (C&C), the pro-Assisted Suicide group, sent an email blaming their defeat on “10 lobbying firms hired by the opposition.” But the one group C&C has repeatedly attacked by name, in emails to their own membership, is the Family Institute of Connecticut. And our most crucial ally, Second Thoughts-Connecticut, is an all-volunteer organization of people with disabilities that spent literally about $12 on lobbying.

The fact is that C&C made a quarter-of-a-million-dollars gamble and they lost. They even lost ground in the Public Health Committee compared to last year, failing even to get their bill on the agenda for a vote. That C&C could not even accomplish a first step in legalizing Assisted Suicide in Connecticut–that their bill “died in committee” without even the possibility of a vote by today’s deadline–shows how decisively FIC Action and our allies won this battle.

And why did we win so decisively? Because our allies conducted a good press conference. Because we had the best public hearing in the history of FIC Action. Because you, our faithful members, contacted your legislators. Because those legislators listened and were genuinely open to being educated on the dangers of Assisted Suicide.

Our opponents claim that they are the ones who speak for Connecticut citizens. Unfortunately for their talking points, Democratic Rep. David Zoni (Southington) told the truth to the media: that the emails sent by Assisted Suicide supporters to legislators were the more manufactured ones, having “similar wording and identical subject lines.” (This was true even of the pro-Assisted Suicide testimony submitted to the Public Health Committee, 10% of which began “Dear Testimony…”)

Our opponents claim that the majority supports Assisted Suicide. If that were true, they could have at least voted the bill out of the first of several committees it had to go through before becoming law. But they could not even do that.

We must continue to be on our guard. Though it is unlikely, the Assisted Suicide bill could return as an amendment on another bill before the close of the legislative session on May 7th. Even if it does not, our opposition has vowed to bring it back next year.

That is a threat we take very seriously, especially in light of what FIC Action and our allies are really up against in Connecticut: Big Suicide, funded by billionaire George Soros.

Despite our decisive victory today, the war is not over. Indeed, it may continue for several years. FIC Action is grateful to know that in the battles ahead we are not alone. We have you, our faithful members. We have our allies, especially the people with disabilities and advocates for the elderly that did so much to make today’s victory possible. And we have God–or rather, He has us–the One through Whom all good things come, including today’s success. Thank you, almighty God.

LifeNews Note: Peter Wolfgang is the president of Family Institute of Connecticut

The Public Health Committee of the Connecticut legislature has reportedly finished their work for the session and cancelled the scheduled meeting for Friday.

If this is really the case, then CT has won a great victory against Assisted Suicide. And greater when you consider that Compassion and Choices has spent about $250,000+ this year trying to get it passed.

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