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UNITED STATES, June 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — An American university professor focusing on assisted suicide research is encouraging family members to mix “life-ending” cocktails for relatives who wish to die as coronavirus lockdown restrictions have made visits from assisted-suicide staff more difficult to arrange.
Anita Hannig, associate professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University, a Jewish private research university in Massachusetts, says in a June 2 article titled “Dying virtually: Pandemic drives medically assisted deaths online” that family members of people wishing to end their lives by assisted suicide “must now take a more active role in their loved one’s final act.”
“Without a volunteer or physician present, families must assume a more active role in the dying process,” she said.
Hannig explains that in states where assisted suicide is legal, the law does not require that either a physician or other medical workers are present, but only that two doctors “independently evaluate a patient’s request for medical assistance in dying” and that individuals are able to ingest lethal doses themselves. This has made it possible for doctors to approve requests for assisted suicide online during the coronavirus crisis.
“Now, because of the coronavirus, volunteers are accompanying patients and families over Zoom, and physicians complete their evaluations through telemedicine, based on recommendations released by the American Clinicians Academy on Medical Aid in Dying in March 2020,” Hannig says.
But Hannig says that the coronavirus crisis has “amplified existing problems of access to assisted dying,” meaning that family members who would prefer for others to assist their relatives to die now “don’t have that choice.”
Hannig admits that her research bears out that family members assisting in the suicide of a relative are often troubled by such involvement.
“Pre-pandemic, many families told me that preparing the lethal cocktail would make them feel like they were facilitating – and not just morally supporting – a loved one’s death. They were glad to outsource this delicate task,” she says.
In situations where family members resolutely object to their relatives committing suicide, Hannig says that assisted suicide volunteers would, in normal circumstances, “make sure a patient’s final wishes are carried out.”
Assisted suicide groups in the U.S. have been promoting online physician consultations and approval for assisted suicide for months during the coronavirus crisis.
Writing about this in March, Alex Schadenberg the Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said:
Let's think this through. A person with difficult health issues who feels like a burden on others, or is experiencing depression or existential distress, could be assessed, via telehealth, and prescribed lethal drugs for suicide.
The death lobby focuses on facilitating death and protecting doctors who are willing to be involved with killing their patients. They are not concerned with protecting people.