Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Washington Pioneers Assisted Suicide Program At Hutch Cancer Center

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As you likely remember, Washington State legalized assisted suicide a few years ago.

I personally spoke in a number of churches and traveled with the Christian Medical Association to encourage people to vote against it. Despite the efforts of many, the bill passed.

Since its legalization, assisted suicide has been making progress as an acceptable medical treatment and has now been integrated with the highly respected Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Clinical Psychiatry News is hailing the program as a "pioneering program that includes medically assisted suicide for competent, terminally ill adults treated at a cancer center in Seattle."

They are reporting this month, "It has been well accepted by patients, families and clinicians."

However, a close read of the program raises some serious concerns in the mind of anyone who embraces life and the sovereignty of God.


First, any form of assisted suicide should be of grave concern to people who embrace the sanctity of life, and view God as Creator and Giver of life.

More on that in a minute.

Wesley J. Smith, writing for the National Review Online, notes that the assisted suicide program is called, predictably, "Death With Dignity". He further takes issue with the fact that a well known, well respected cancer treatment center would integrate what amounts to a suicide clinic for use by its patients who want to commit suicide.

Efforts have been underway for years by the Hemlock Society and other pro-death organizations to normalized suicide as an accepted medical treatment.

The Clinical Psychiatry news story says:

The program’s policy – written by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance’s medical director and approved by a majority of the medical executive committee members, as with any clinical policy – requires that patients request information about medically assisted suicide from their physicians, or that these clinicians raise the topic, to be considered for referral. Participation is entirely voluntary for medical staff and faculty members.

Every patient who is a potential participant is first assigned an advocate, a licensed social worker employed by the Alliance, who assists patients, family members, pharmacists, and physicians throughout a multistep process of participating. This advocate also tracks compliance with required documentation for the state Department of Health.

The advocate, as well as the attending physician, ensures that all potential participants are aware of alternatives to medically assisted suicide, such as palliative care and hospice care. The patient’s terminal status is verified, and if the attending physician doesn’t wish to participate, a prescribing physician and a consulting physician are chosen from a group of willing providers.

Note that suicide can be the doctor's idea.

Smith says, "This is an extremely concerning development because it gives the imprimatur of a respected cancer center to suicide."

Indeed it does.

In 1970, the California Medical Association's California Journal said this in an article on "death control," predicting:

"The traditional Western ethic has always placed a great emphasis on the intrinsic worth and equal value of every human life regardless of its stage or condition...This traditional ethic is...being eroded at its core and may eventually be abandoned...Hard choices will have to be made...that will of necessity violate and ultimately destroy the Western ethic with all that protends. It will become necessary and acceptable to place relative rather than absolute values on such things as human lives...One may anticipate...death selection and death control whether by individual or by society."

What we are looking at is a respected cancer center establishing a suicide clinic and being hailed as a pioneering model for the rest of the country.

The Christian Medical and Dental Association has made a definite statement regarding assisted suicide, which begins with this:

"We, as Christian physicians and dentists, believe that human life is a gift from God and is sacred because it bears God's image. Human life has worth because Christ died to redeem it, and it has meaning because God has an eternal purpose for it.

We oppose active intervention with the intent to produce death for the relief of pain, suffering, or economic considerations, or for the convenience of patient, family, or society.

Proponents of physician-assisted suicide argue from the perspective of compassion and radical individual autonomy. There are persuasive counterarguments based on the traditional norms of the medical professions and the adverse consequences of such a public policy. Even more important than these secular arguments is the biblical view that the sovereignty of God places a limit on human autonomy.

In order to affirm the dignity of human life, we advocate the development and use of alternatives to relieve pain and suffering, provide human companionship, and give opportunity for spiritual support and counseling.

The Christian Medical & Dental Associations oppose physician-assisted suicide in any form."
The CMDA provides much more on the subject. I have linked it here.

Obamacare and government controlled medical care is a the grand entrance to the unthinkable.

I have much more to say on this subject on my live radio program this morning at 9 AM PDT.

You may click here to listen.

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful Be Active. Be Blessed.

8 comments:

  1. I changed my mind on assisted suicide after experiencing the dying of my 58-year-old husband who was diagnosed with terminal metastatic head-neck cancer. I quit all work to be his 24/7 caretaker. He wanted to live as well as he could until it was impossible. No one, absolutely no one, should go through the unrelenting agony, the pain, the horror of what he went through. He was in hospice at home. The drugs did not stop him from suffering that to this day makes me cry when I think back on it. When he finally was crying to me to please, please, please get him assisted suicide help, I did try -- something that I never imagined I would be doing. Despite the law being in place, I could not locate a doctor who would help.

    It's this experience that has my thinking for situations like this. I was so glad that law was in place and I was horrified when I could find no one to help.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear this story. We went through a very similar circumstance during my mom's final days with cancer. After that experience, I'm very comforted that all options are on the table if I should face similar circumstances. It makes me very angry that people like Gary try to take that option away from me based on THEIR religious beliefs, not mine. My life and the end of it is none of their business and they should keep their Gladys Kravitz noses out.

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    2. No one is taking your options off the table, if you want to kill yourself or others, no one can really stop you, but there is a price to be paid.

      You must decide if you want to pay that price.

      Craig in Lacey

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    3. My mistake, I could have sworn you guys were against me having the option of physician assisted suicide as opposed to heartlessly forcing me to bungle through it on my own in a handicapped state. Glad to know you don't want to take any options off the table.

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  2. I wonder how long it will be before it is mandatory before clinicians at all levels, including hospice, social workers, doctors, nurses, etc. will be required to participate, like those who have been forced or threatened to loss their jobs if they do not aide in abortions. There is a trend where nurses have been forced to choose between their jobs or help in performing abortions. Obamacare will push that issue with clinics, hospitals or private practioneers.

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    1. I certainly don't think any doctor should be forced to provide lethal drugs. What caretaker wants to work with a doctor that is being forced when you are in the most emotional situation of your life? What we need are doctors who actually experience what occurs in home-based hospice for patients dying of cancer and other conditions that result in agonizing deaths.

      I certainly don't think we should make lethal doses of anything available willy nilly. I was horribly opposed to any euthanasia until I saw what I saw, experienced what I experienced. I can only imagine his experience as the dying person.

      When you have your very best friend, such as I had, wake screaming... with bullets of sweat pouring off their face ...and then stiffening into a fetal ball, I don't see the love or kindness in allowing that dying person to experience their agony until the very moment of a "natural" death.

      I do believe life is precious. I am very active in my church and live a life as God has told me to live it. But Jesus wanted us to give love to others. Is it loving, is it giving of love, to stand by and watch a person wither in pain? I didn't even know that this sort of suffering occurs at death today! The more I have reached out to others, the more I have learned, yes, it does.

      I pray you never experience what I experienced, what my husband experienced -- even with hospice and while using prescription morphine.

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  3. I really feel the pain of these examples. I have not experienced exactly like these but have some dear friends watching and holding their 11 year old as a tumor grows behind his eye. He has had every treatment available over his long walk and the cancer just exploded throughout his body. The tumor has broken his cheek bone and has closed his eye as it is growing. There is nothing more they are going to do at this time. He has hospice.

    Since they are Christians, they know that God is a daddy who is heart broken by the fallen world and the plight of this dear son as well. So He sent His own son to die on a cross more horrific than this poor baby is going through. That God will collect this boy in His arms and his eternal future will be with a whole complete body.

    The physicians and dentist's statement makes it clear that we believe that God gives life and takes it. He knows every day ordained for us. I would like to make everyone's life a pleasant experience. Suffering kills me personally but misery was introduced to the world through the evil one and God saved it by the sacrifice of His only son. An act of love beyond our wildest imagination.

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  4. It is the camel under the tent scenario, once assisted suicide is legal, who makes the decision to play God? The patient, doctor or dentist? Let the patient and God make the decision when death comes!

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