Monday, February 10, 2014

Dr. Toffler Writes the New Hampshire Judiciary Committee: "Vote NO on HB 1325"

Dear Members of the Committee:

I am a doctor in Oregon where assisted suicide is legal.  As a professor of Family Medicine and practicing physician in Oregon for over 30 years, I write to urge you to not make Oregon's mistake and vote No on HB 1325.

I understand that there was a question during your recent hearing regarding the appropriateness of suicide prevention with a terminal patient.  Terminal patients, like other patients, will sometimes express suicidal desires and ideation.  Terminal patients, like other patients do not necessarily mean it and may even want you to say "no."  They may also be clinically depressed, i.e., colloquially not in their "right minds."  With this situation, suicide prevention is not only appropriate, but necessary to provide good medical care and to avoid discrimination based on the patient's quality of life as perceived by the doctor.

In my practice, I have had well over twenty patients ask me about participating in their suicides or giving them information about assisted suicide.  In every case I have explored the issues behind their request, and then assured them that I will provide their medical care to the best of my ability. At the same time, I also strive to reflect and convey their inherent worth and my inability to collude with their request to help end their life.  I remember one case in particular, the man's response was "Thank you." 

To read more about that case and some of my other cases in Oregon, please read my statement to the BBC, since re-titled as "What do People Mean When They Say they Want to Die?"

Please vote No on HB 1325,

Thank you,

William L. Toffler MD
Professor of Family Medicine
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road
Portland, OR 97239
503-494-8573 (patient care)
503-494-4496 (fax)