Advocates for end-of-life choices are concerned about President Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch.
Washington is among six states where medical aid in dying is an option for terminally ill patients at the end of their lives.
In 2006, in his book “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” Gorsuch argued against the practice.
However, Kevin Diaz, national director of legal advocacy for the group Compassion and Choices, notes that assisted suicide and euthanasia are far different from medical-aid-in-dying laws.
“Medical aid in dying is when a medical professional, a physician, prescribes a life-ending medication to give to a person who is an adult, who is terminally ill, which means six months or less to live, and who will then self-ingest the medication if and when suffering becomes too great,” he explains.
Gorsuch argues in his book that assisted suicide could open the doors to considering some lives less valuable.
But Diaz emphasizes that the six states that have approved these laws do not allow medical aid in dying for the purposes of assisted suicide or mercy killings.
He separates assisted suicide as a term used when people who are not sound of mind are convinced to kill themselves.
Diaz says Compassion and Choices is working on a case in Vermont in which physicians are asking to be exempt from their legal requirement in the state to inform terminally ill patients about the option to end their lives.
He says this is where erosion of the law is most likely to occur nationwide, and could even extend to health care organizations wishing to be exempt because of their religious views.
“It would be unfortunate to essentially allow physicians to not provide the whole truth to patients or give patients all the information that they need to make educated decisions in consultation with their loved ones and family members and spiritual advisors,” he states.
Polls are showing growing support for a person’s right to die with dignity.
A Gallup poll from last year found nearly 7 in 10 people agreed that a terminally ill patient should legally have the right to end his or her life, if requested.
Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.