Sunday, November 11, 2018

Virginia: Legislative Panel Punts on Assisted Suicide-Euthanasia Proposal

Del. Scott Garrett, MD
To view the original article, click here.
A group of lawmakers shot down proposals to allow medical-aid-in-dying, also known as physician-assisted suicide [and euthanasia], in Virginia on Wednesday in a review of a series of legislative recommendations on health care.
Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax, requested that the Joint Commission on Health Care study the medical-aid-in-dying debate, in which a patient with less than six months to live obtains lethal drugs through a physician to end his or her life.
The commission’s staff developed several options, including a few related to adding a new end-of-life decision-making tool to Virginia’s code, called the “Physicians Orders for Scope of Treatment,” or POST, form.
It would encourage patients to decide on their treatment preferences with their doctors, and it would then be added to their medical record or a state registry so everyone from first responders to emergency physicians knows the patient’s preferences.
But all the options were killed on a party-line vote.
Del. Scott Garrett, R-Lynchburg, said his decision to second the motion to take no action was based on his experience as a surgeon.
“The resiliency of the human condition is truly an amazing thing,” he said. “Each one of us has certainly, many, many times in our professional careers been faced with somebody who had no chance, they’re going to die in three months, and yet in fact it just wasn’t their time yet.”
Another physician on the commission, Del. Christopher Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, criticized the POST form options after Del. David Bulova, D-Fairfax, and Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, proposed adding them to Virginia’s code.

Stolle said the forms would simply add confusion for providers, “and actually may delay implementation of the patient’s desires.”
Kory said in an interview after the meeting that she does not have plans to put medical-aid-in-dying legislation forward this year after the committee’s decision, because she “does not see it as useful right now.”
She was disappointed with the committee’s vote, but said she will still try to convince her opponents that the concept is inherently about helping people avoid suffering at the end of life in hopes of revisiting the topic in later sessions.
The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.