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August 26, 2016 (Life Issues Institute) — When the average person thinks about physician assisted suicide, they paint a mental image that looks something like this:

A welcome release for a terminally ill patient with only a few months to live and is experiencing incurable pain.

At best, this is a naïve way to look at a critical issue of our day. Plus, it’s grossly inaccurate. A lack of basic knowledge regarding assisted suicide laws is having devastating effects on nations around the world, including the United States.

As a result, your life and that of your loved one’s may already be at risk.

Assisted suicide or euthanasia is currently legal in Albania, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Japan, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. In America, assisted suicide is legal in California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont.

The Netherlands began looking the other way in the 1970s when it came to euthanasia and finally made it officially legal in 2002. In 2013 — just 11 years later — it’s estimated they euthanized 650 babies. In about two decades, this country progressed from assisted suicide to euthanasia. They went from killing the terminally ill to those suffering from chronic diseases. They expanded the limitation of euthanasia for physical illness to psychological afflictions. The Netherlands’ slippery slope descended from voluntary euthanasia to involuntary killing. Half the deaths aren’t even reported and about a quarter are done without the patient’s consent!

Belgium’s so-called tightly defined parameters weren’t worth the paper they were printed on. The nation legalized euthanasia in 2002 and 12 years later they too began to euthanize infants and babies. Their definitions for conditions that qualify for euthanasia have continually loosened until it’s now legal to kill anyone who’s simply “tired of life.” If someone is lonely, say the officials, “we cannot create a family,” so euthanasia is the answer.  By the way, Belgium has the second-highest suicide rate (nonrelated to euthanasia) in Western Europe.

Last year, Canada’s Supreme Court came down with the Roe v Wade of euthanasia in a unanimous decision and ordered Parliament to construct a law within their defined parameters, a blatant example of legislating from the bench. Before the ink was dry on this decree, UNICEF, whose mission is to “address the needs of children in the developing world,” lobbied to have assisted suicide available for children of any age. Parliament’s safeguards written into bill C-14 already leaked like a sieve, but special interest groups immediately called the law too restrictive and demanded even less protections for their fellow Canadians.

But we, in the U.S., aren’t like those fast and loose socialist countries, right? Oh yes we are.

The assisted suicide laws of Oregon in 1997 and Washington State in 2009 are nearly identical and contain ineffectual safeguards. In Oregon, someone else putting the drug into the patient’s mouth or injecting it into the IV still constitutes as “self-administered.” Further, an heir is allowed to speak for the patient, inviting coercion.

Both states have solid safeguards for those involved with the lethal process, but not so much for the patients. Neither state requires an investigation of abuse, and true accountability is nonexistent.

The most recent bill in California is particularly ominous. A wealthy patient’s heir can help sign the patient up for assisted suicide. Once the lethal medication is in the home, no accountability or witness is required. It could be forced on the targeted person and no one would know. The law also keeps the details of death confidential so they can’t be used to prosecute a doctor or other person who abuses the process.

How do the poor suffer under these laws within a managed care system? The year their assisted suicide law was passed, the Oregon Medical Assistance Program (OMAP) terminated funding for 167 of its services. When the law was enacted four years later, the OMAP listed the lethal drugs as “comfort care” and slashed Medicaid funding for over 150 services essential for those with disabilities, terminal illnesses, and the elderly. All the while the agency attempted but failed to curtail funding for an effective pain medication and established barriers to funding for an anti-depressant.

Don’t buy the lie that assisted suicide and euthanasia laws empower people to make independent choices. Don’t think these laws only affect the people who sign up. Quite the opposite is true. You and those you love could fall victim to involuntary euthanasia. Help us get the word out.

Reprinted with permission from the Life Issues Institute.