Physician Assisted Suicide Should Be an Issue at the Maryland General Assembly


Jenny Kraska is executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference.

When Deacon T. Brian Callister, internal medicine specialist and permanent deacon at Our Lady of the Snows in Reno, Nevada, requested rescue procedures for two of his patients, one in Oregon and another in California, the medical directors assurances told him they would not cover their treatments but instead suggested physician-assisted suicide.

It was a wake-up call for how dangerous it can be for states to legalize the deaths of people with serious health problems.

Deacon Callister urges Marylanders and many other states not to follow the path of California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Montana, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, United ‘Oregon, Vermont and Washington, as some lawmakers prepare to make another push. legalize medically assisted suicide.

According to Jennifer Kraska, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, Maryland will most likely see another bill legalizing physician-assisted suicide in the next legislative session of 2022 beginning on January 12, when the bills will be introduced. Many previous attempts to advance legislation have failed.

She said the main proponent of the legislation, in Maryland and across the country, is a group called Compassion & Choices that “won’t stop until physician-assisted suicide is in every state across the country.” .

“Our responsibility as Catholics is to be a voice for the voiceless, the most vulnerable and those on the periphery of society,” Kraska said. “Those most likely to be harmed by this dangerous legislation are racial and ethnic minorities, the poor, the elderly and the disabled. “

The Maryland Catholic Conference hosted two webinars on physician-assisted suicide to educate people on this issue. Auxiliary Bishop Bruce A. Lewandowski, C.Ss.R., hosted a webinar in Spanish on October 14, with radiologist Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie as a guest speaker.

Christie noted that disability groups are among the first whose lives will be threatened under these types of laws.

“They will be the first to tell them: ‘Look, life for you is very difficult, it is better that you are not a burden on the state, your families and yours. Better to say goodbye.

She said this already happens with abortion. When women with disabilities are pregnant, they are pressured to abort.

“When a baby is detected in the womb of a disabled woman, abortion is forced,” she said. “Each time, it’s more frequent.

Christie said that when the state begins to select who lives and who should die, it will quickly become a question of who deserves to live. The smart, the rich and the useful are the ones who will prevail, she said.

Advocates of physician-assisted suicide advocate the so-called “death with dignity” but ignore quality medical care, such as life-saving procedures, palliative care and palliative care. PAS goes against the teachings of the Catholic Church, in which life is sacred from conception to natural death.

Molly Sheahan, former MCC Associate Director for Respect for Life, hosted a webinar in English on October 8. The invited panelists were internal medicine specialist Dr. Marie-Alberte Boursiquot, disability rights activist Anita Cameron and psychiatrist Annette L. Hanson.

Physician Assisted Suicide is a form of suicide in which a physician prescribes a terminally ill patient a large number of lethal pills, or a “cocktail,” a mixture of drugs. The patient fills the prescription, consumes the drugs and dies.

Hanson noted that the procedure lacks supervision. Doctors who prescribe drugs are not required to have prior training before prescribing such drugs. Additionally, a medical provider is not required to be present and oversee the death process.

“Assisted suicide is not medical care,” said Boursiquot, a parishioner at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. “Doctors don’t kill, we care about ourselves. ”

According to Hanson, a psychological or psychiatric assessment would not be required before prescribing suicidal drugs.

“Once you make pain or suffering the basis of a lethal prescription, you automatically roped people with mental illness,” Hanson said.

Cameron noted that many times patients live longer than expected, and their experiences and memories would not be possible with physician-assisted suicide. She noted that when her mother was diagnosed with end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Cameron was told to see her within the next two days if she wanted to see her mother again during her lifetime. However, her mother survived six months of hospice care and even lived 12 years longer while being active in her community.

Opponents of physician-assisted suicide point out that overall suicide rates tend to increase each year in states where physician-assisted suicide is legal, such as Oregon.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon’s suicide rate exceeded the national rate for each age group in 2017.

“It is extremely important that opponents of this deadly and dangerous legislation make their position known to their elected officials,” said Kraska, who urged Maryland residents to join the Maryland Catholic Conference’s advocacy network to receive information and alerts regarding physician-assisted suicide and other key public policy and legislative issues.

To learn more about physician-assisted suicide, visit https://www.mdcatholic.org/pas.

Email Priscila González de Doran at pdoran@CatholicReview.org

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