Assisted Suicide Bill on Verge of Advancing in NJ

A warning from veteran NJ physician Louis Keeler, MD:

My message today is mainly directed to the practicing physicians of New Jersey and in a special way to all the citizens of New Jersey.. The subject of discussion is a bill that is to be voted on by both houses of the legislature on March 25. That’s four days away. The name of the bill is both deceptive and euphemistic. It is entitled Medical Aid in Dying For the Terminally Ill Act. It is also known as” assisted suicide” but I assume that by a collective guilt of those legislators who are voting for the bill they have specifically put in the bill a prohibition against using the words “assisted suicide”. Have no doubt what were talking about is voluntary euthanasia.

Euthanasia is defined in the dictionary as the painless killing of a patient suffering from incurable and painful disease or an irreversible coma. Synonyms are mercy killing, assisted suicide, physician assisted suicide.

The bill concerns those who are considered terminally ill and have six months to live. The doctor is ordered by law how to practice medicine which I personally take as a professional insult. This sick and probably debilitated and quite likely very depressed human being has a right to make a decision to end their life by taking a lethal dose of medication by mouth. All sorts of gyrations then occur. The physician must get this and that in writing. The physician must get a consult from another physician agreeing with what he or she says. If anybody thinks the patient has a mental problem then the physician must order a psychiatric or psychological evaluation. And if this psychological examination shows that the patient is competent then the suicide can proceed. The physician writes a prescription that is filled by a pharmacist. The physician gives the patient the pills and then waits for the patient to die. Then the physician will fill out the death certificate and since the physician cannot use the words assisted suicide the only thing he/she can put down is a disease for which the patient chose voluntary euthanasia.

One of the reasons the bill failed three or four years ago was because the bill directly ordered the physician to lie, in that the physician when making out the death certificate was to make not mention of suicide and list only the underlying disease is the cause of death. With the present legislation the same thing will be made law by the deceptive way in which it is structured. This is the first time in my life that I ever heard of a bill ordering professionals to lie each and every time they do a certain professional act. Now we all know that a lie under certain legal conditions is called perjury which is a crime and for which the the liar can go to jail. If the state can now order people to lie to serve the state’s interest what do we say about lying to our children and grandchildren. This legislation is better described as voluntary euthanasia. And no matter how you cut the cake the physician is the one taking the life of the patient. Why do I say this? If you go to the doctor and he makes a diagnosis of diabetes and gives you medication and a weight loss program you voluntarily take the pills but in three or four months when your diabetes is effectively gone the physician gets the credit and if you don’t do well the doctor gets criticism. So it is no different when the patient says to the physician “Dr. I want to die”. The doctor writes the prescription the patient takes the pills and the patient dies and so the doctor gets the credit for the death.

One might use another analogy. If the doctor were to get a gun, put a bullet in the chamber, ask the patient for his dominant hand, put the gun in the patient’s and, cocked the gun, put the gun to the patient’s head and then walk away while the patient pulls the trigger the doctor would be doing no different than if you gave the patient pills to swallow. This law specifically absolves the doctor of any liability as long as he or she follows every step of this tortuous law It seems like every step along the way presents a legal hazard for the for the physician particularly when one sees a sentence end with the statement “and all reasonable attorneys fees”. One that is patently obvious to me is that the bill of absolves physicians of all responsibility if they do not wish to participate in the deed. However, by law, the physician is required to refer the patient to a physician who will do the deed. That act makes the referring physician morally responsible for the euthanasia. I am certain this will be tested in court when the physician refuses to give a referral as a matter of conscience. I ask everyone listening who is a New Jersey voter contact their assembly persons and State Sen. requesting them to vote against this bill. It is the beginning of the “slippery slope” and that’s a whole other discussion.

In closing let me say l am not a lawyer, I could be wrong in my interpretation of the bill. But I can still read and at age 86 I can still understand and this is how I understood it. So this this is simply my opinion. Nothing more nothing less.

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