Those who advocate the legalization of physician-assisted suicide always claim that doctor-prescribed death will involve a meticulous process of intimate conversations and hands-on examinations by qualified physicians. They promise that patients who request assisted suicide as a solution to illness or disability will receive a physical to determine the extent of the disease. If declared terminally ill, the patient must next be referred for a second opinion. Only then can the doctor dispense the lethal prescriptions.
But once it’s legal for doctors to prescribe poison, opinions about death and suicide quickly change. Assisted suicide boosters come to see “protections” as unjust “barriers” to attaining a “peaceful death.” This leads to cutting legal corners and breaking public policy promises.
The COVID-19 crisis has provided a pretext for further eroding supposedly ironclad guidelines. When the crisis first hit, assisted suicide advocates wrung their hands because people would be unable to access the medical examinations necessary to obtain doctor-prescribed death. Technology to the rescue! The American Clinicians Academy on Medical Aid in Dying—a newly formed association of doctors who assist suicides—recently published formal guidelines that permit doctors to assist suicides via the Internet. These guidelines state that examination should include a review of medical records and a video meeting via Zoom or Skype. The second opinion can simply be done by phone. This means that assisted suicides will be facilitated by doctors who never actually treated patients for their underlying illness, who may be ignorant of their family situations and personal histories, and who have never met their patients in the flesh.
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