Petition on Physician Assisted Suicide
We encourage parishioners consider to sign a friendly petition to witness to the gift of every human life in Sonora.
We applaud our local hospital, Sonora Regional Medical Center, for “opting-out” and not allowing Physician Assisted Suicide to be performed or facilitated on their properties.
However, we also are urging them to amend to their policy .... “a prohibition against all of its staff and affiliated professionals participating in Physician Assisted Suicide.”
In October 2015, Governor Brown signed into law the End of Life Option Act, which gives immunity to doctors who choose to help their patients end their own lives through physician-assisted suicide (PAS). The law is intended for those who have been deemed terminal--or reasonably have 6 months or less to live--and a prescription for the lethal drug(s) is only supposed to be written upon the patient’s direct request and then administered by the patient.
Physician-assisted suicide is set to go into effect all over the state of California on June 9th, and Governor Brown has already allocated Medi-Cal funds to pay for the “aid in dying” drugs.
The Act allows individual doctors and other larger health care providers to “opt out” of PAS. Health care providers are allowed to prohibit their employees and independent contractors from participating in physician-assisted suicide (Health and Safety Code 443.15(a)).
LANGUAGE OF PETITION:
TO: Sonora Regional Medical Center Governing Board
We ask that the governing board of Sonora Regional Medical Center, or any other person or entity having the authority to do so, issue a public policy statement that includes the following:
1.) A prohibition against all of its staff and affiliated professionals participating in PAS (in accordance with Health and Safety Code 443.15(b).) "Participating" is defined in Health and Safety Code 443.15(f) and would include professionals affiliated with the hospital and any of the other SRMC clinics and facilities--including Home Health and Hospice.
2.) Instructions that SRMC staff and affiliated professionals will only be allowed to provide information and assessment for PAS if the patient initiates the conversation. This would also mean that any educational materials, advertising, etc available on SRMC premises or distributed by SRMC staff or affiliated professionals would refrain from including information that facilitates or promotes "physician-assisted suicide," "Death with Dignity," or the “End of Life Option.”
3.) An explanation of what SRMC's policy will be concerning referrals to outside providers who are participating in PAS.
4.) An explanation of what SRMC’s policy will be concerning staff and affiliated professionals who have moral/religious objections concerning specific work-related activities that relate to PAS--whether they fall under the End of Life Option Act’s definition of “participation” or otherwise.
We kindly ask that the requested policy statement--or another written policy statement concerning PAS--be made publicly available prior to June 9 and that a copy of the policy be mailed to: Jennifer Warner at 8 Hope Lane, Sonora, CA 95346
Because the SRMC mission statement is “To share God’s love by providing physical, mental, and spiritual healing” and the Seventh Day Adventist’s statement on “Care for the Dying” opposes assisted suicide, we are hopeful that SRMC will take this courageous stand against PAS.
While we are sympathetic to the reasons some individuals might request PAS, it is our strong belief that offering this option to a few endangers the many in our community.
Not only does it fundamentally change the nature of the doctor-patient relationship that is founded upon “do no harm,” it does not contain the safeguards necessary to ensure that only those who truly want PAS actually receive PAS. Even though depression is common in those who have received a terminal diagnosis, the End of Life Option Act does not require a thorough mental health evaluation. There is also a shroud of secrecy around the PAS process that could have the unintended consequence of making the infirm in our county even more vulnerable to predators. The patient’s family members can be excluded from the process, all paperwork passes through one attending physician, and there is no oversight once the prescription for the lethal drug(s) is written--including to make sure that the patient still wants to take the drugs at the time they are administered.
Our existing safety nets are struggling to handle the rising number of elder abuse cases, so where are the resources going to come from to look into any suspicious cases of PAS, including when it seems that a patient has been unduly influenced?
Our county has also seen high rates of suicide in recent history, and we are concerned how suicide contagion might lead to higher suicide rates in younger and healthier persons who struggle with suicidal ideation.
There are already ways of honoring an individual’s wishes at the end of life that do not put everyone else in our community at risk, including accessible and individualized palliative care.