Why Choice is an Illusion?

Saturday, April 6, 2019

American Nursing Association's Draft Position Statement Regarding Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Is "Misleading and Dangerous"

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA

The ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights Advisory Board is seeking public comment on a proposed position statement, "The Nurse's Role When a Patient Requests Aid in Dying."

"Aid in Dying" is a traditional euphemism for assisted suicide and euthanasia. The first paragraph of the proposed statement is set forth below, followed by my responding submission.

The Nurse’s Role When a Patient Requests Aid in Dying
DRAFT ANA Position Statement

Purpose: The purpose of this position statement is to provide nurses with ethical guidance in response to a patient’s request for aid in dying (AID). This statement offers assistance with understanding nurses’ ethical obligations and responsibilities amidst social and legislative shifts which make this option legal in an increasing number of U.S. jurisdictions.

The entire statement can be viewed here.

My submission:

Lines 1-6 A professional statement should be clear as to its topic. The term, "aid in dying," implies that we're talking about palliative care for a person necessarily near death, which is not the case:
1. The term, "Aid in Dying" is a traditional euphemism for euthanasia. Craig A. Brandt, “Model Aid-in-Dying Act,” Iowa Law Review, 1989 Oct; 75(1): 125-215 (“Subject: Active Euthanasia ....”) at https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/handle/10822/738671
2. In the US, Oregon-style death with dignity laws have a six months to live criteria. In practice, this criteria applies to people with years or decades to live. One reason is that predictions of life expectancy can be wrong. See: https://www.seattleweekly.com/news/terminal-uncertainty Another reason is that the six months to live is determined without treatment. Consider, for example, my friend Jeanette Hall talked out of assisted suicide in Oregon 18 years ago: https://www.choiceillusionsouthdakota.org/p/if.html
In short, by the title alone, the statement is materially misleading.

Lines 7-22 As noted above, "aid in dying" means euthanasia. More importantly, deaths under current Oregon-style acts are not necessarily voluntary.

Perhaps these articles are helpful:
1. Margaret K. Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009, at https://www.kcba.org/newsevents/barbulletin/BView.aspx?Month=05&Year=2009&AID=article5.htm
2. Margaret Dore, "Preventing Abuse and Exploitation: A Personal Shift in Focus", ABA Senior Lawyers Division Newsletter, Vol. 25, No. 4, Winter 2014, at https://www.margaretdore.org/p/by-margaret-k.html

Lines 23-34 With regard to "end-of-life" conversations, I have had at least 10 people talk to me about their wanting to do legal assisted suicide/euthanasia.
  • I was trained to always ask them "why?" Get them talking about what's really bothering them, and the answers have been all over the place. One was facing economic pressure, another blamed himself for the death of a friend, another seemed to have learning issues. Most, but not all, changed their minds just by talking about it.
  • I have seen families torn apart and traumatized by legal assisted suicide/euthanasia, even when the death does not occur. This also happens with palliative dare/hospice abuse. See: https://www.choiceillusionendtheabuse.org
  • Other people are afraid to go to the doctor or a hospital, they no longer trust the medical profession. 
  • Allowing and/or encouraging your members to promote assisted suicide and euthanasia will make the situation worse. I urge you to reject the proposed statement, which is misleading and dangerous.

Thank you.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA