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Physician-assisted suicide: Dead in some states, routine in others

You would not know it from the national secular news, but a lot is happening on the contentious issue of physician-assisted suicide.

One remarkable fact is that no state has passed a law allowing the practice this year, although laws allowing it went into effect in California and Colorado last year. Such proposals have stalled or been defeated outright in 23 states whose sessions are over for the year. In New York, a state targeted by the advocacy group Compassion & Choices, a bill approved in committee last year could not get that far in 2017.

This agenda has lost some momentum nationally. In states that have legalized assisted suicide, however, the trend is toward making the practice more hidden from public view and even routine.

A case in point is our most populous state, California. Its End of Life Options Act, which took effect last June, requires the state to report every summer on the past year’s cases. The first official report was issued on June 27, 2017, covering lethal prescriptions written in the last six months of 2016.

Observers were interested to see this report.

Annual reports from Oregon and Washington, where assisted suicide has been legal for a longer time, have shown some disturbing facts: Ninety-six percent of the patients never get a psychological evaluation before receiving lethal drugs; the drugs have had complications and sometimes failed; usually no physician or other health professional is present at the time of death to assess competency or the possibility of coercion.

Read more at Catholic Philly. 

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