By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA
H.B. 391 seeks to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Utah. I am a lawyer in Washington State where we have a similar law. Our law is based on a law in Oregon.
1. HB 391, if enacted, will encourage people with years to live to throw away their lives.
HB 391 seeks to legalize assisted suicide for persons with a "terminal disease," which is defined as having less than six months to live. In Oregon's law, which uses the same definition, young adults with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, are "eligible" for assisted suicide. Such persons can have years, even decades, to live. See https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/a-2270-3r-memo-12-02-14.pdf "Eligible" patients can also have years to live because doctors can be wrong. See https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/terminal-uncertainty.pdf and https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/signed-john-norton-affidavit_001.pdf
2. HB 391, if enacted, will allow health care providers/institutions to use coverage incentives to steer patients to suicide.
In Oregon, that state's Medicaid Plan steers patients to suicide through coverage incentives. If HB 391 is enacted, Utah health care providers/institutions will be able to do the same thing. For more information about Oregon's situation, see the affidavit of Kenneth Stevens, MD, at this link: https://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/dr-stevens-affidavit_001.pdf
3. Legalization is a recipe for elder abuse.
HB 391, like Washington's law, has no oversight at the death. No doctor is required to be present. Not even a witness is required. This situation creates the opportunity for an heir, or another person who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent. Even if he struggled, who would know?
4. Increased suicide
In Oregon, other suicides have increased with the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. See http://www.choiceillusion.org/2014/03/the-high-financial-cost-of-regular.html Legalization, regardless, sends the wrong message to young people that suicide is an acceptable solution to life's problems. Utah already has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. See http://www.standard.net/Health/2014/05/22/Utah-suicide-rate-soars
5. Washington's similar law.
For a short article about Washington's similar law, please go here (non-lawyers tell me they like it): https://www.kcba.org/newsevents/barbulletin/BView.aspx?Month=05&Year=2009&AID=article5.htm
For more information, see Utah Against Assisted Suicide.