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Massachusetts bill banning assisted suicide has loophole for doctors

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BOSTON, July 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Legislation to criminalize encouraging or assisting in a suicide attempt has been introduced in Massachusetts, but the ostensibly pro-life law contains an alarming exception for arguably the most dangerous form of assisted suicide.

S.D. 2505, or Conrad’s Law, criminalizes the acts of pressuring or encouraging someone to attempt to take his or her own life, as well as intentionally providing the “physical means, or knowledge of such means” to do so or “participat(ing) in (the) physical act.” All of the above would be punishable by up to five years in prison.

The Boston Globe reported that the law is named after Conrad Roy III, a mentally-ill 18-year-old who killed himself in 2014 after being pressured to do so by text messages from Michelle Carter, then 17. Carter is now serving a 15-month prison sentence after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2017.

“‘Conrad’s Law’ has nothing to do with seeking justice for my son,” said Lynn Roy, Conrad’s mother. “This law has everything to do with preventing this from happening again to others who are struggling with mental illness and suicidal ideation. If this law is successful in saving one life, then all of this work will be clearly worth it.”

However, the bill also says the aforementioned prohibitions “shall not apply to a medical treatment lawfully administered by, or in a manner prescribed by, a licensed physician.”

Democrat state Rep. Natalie Higgins, one of the lead sponsors of Conrad’s Law, told the Globe of the exception: “We used very targeted language” because they wanted to focus it on the dangers of teen bullying.

Writing at National Review, the Discovery Institute’s Wesley Smith warned that “doctors’ participation in suicide is worse than when engaged in by others because it adds the heft of medical authority to encouraging a decision to take one’s own life.” He also suspects that the “carveout’s purpose is to pave the way to legalize assisted suicide in Massachusetts, perhaps even active euthanasia.”

Massachusetts is not currently one of the nine states (plus the District of Columbia) with some form of legal physician-assisted suicide. But an assisted-suicide bill that failed last year is currently pending before the Democrat-controlled state legislature.

Physician-assisted suicide is “not ‘compassionate’ care for people suffering from depression, fear, or hopelessness at the end of life,” Americans United for Life president Catherine Glenn Foster told the Washington Free Beacon. “These vulnerable people deserve our support, not abandonment by society or the healthcare providers they expect to give them comfort and care."

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