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Life Legal Defense Foundation

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The horrific stories behind assisted suicide laws

Life Legal Defense Foundation

June 29, 2018 (Life Legal Defense Foundation) – In the course of challenging California's End of Life Option Act, we have learned that a handful of doctors have written most of the prescriptions for lethal drugs since the law went into effect.

One of those doctors is Lonny Shavelson, a former contract ER doctor who came out of retirement as soon as the law was passed to dispense lethal prescriptions. Shavelson is not board-certified in any medical specialty, including diagnosing or treating mental illness, which is often at the root of a request for suicide.

His sole "practice" consists of getting people to die.

Shavelson admits to having "attended at bedside" as 89 people committed suicide. He stresses that the lethal drugs must be taken within 2 minutes, or they can "fail." By "fail," he means the people don't die – and may decide that they don't want to kill themselves.

In his book "Chosen Death," Shavelson writes about observing an assisted suicide. Gene, a lonely widower, contacted the Hemlock Society, which has since changed its name to "Compassion and Choices." "Sarah" the head of the local Hemlock Society office, came to Gene's home to prepare and dispense the deadly concotion. This was not Sarah's first experience with "assisting" a person's death. She called it "the most intimate experience you can share with a person. . . . More than sex. More than birth . . . more than anything.

Sarah held Gene's head on her lap as she gave him the suicide drugs. As he started to fall asleep, Sarah put a plastic bag over his head and told Gene to "Go to the light."

But the drugs failed. Gene woke up and started screaming. 

Shavelson describes what happened next:

"His good hand flew up to tear off the plastic bag. Sarah's hand caught Gene's wrist and held it. His body thrust upwards. She pulled his arm away and lay across Gene's shoulders. Sarah rocked back and forth, pinning him down, her fingers twisting the bag to seal it tight at his neck as she repeated, 'the light, Gene, go toward the light.' Gene's body pushed against Sarah's. Then he stopped moving."

As Wesley Smith writes, "There is a word that describes what happened to Gene, and that word is murder." 

There is no evidence that Shavelson ever reported the circumstances of Gene's death to authorities. 

Why would he?

Once a person requests assisted suicide, the law presumes that everyone – the doctor, the suicide facilitator, family members, hospital workers – is acting with the purest of intentions.

Here is how the law protects bad actors:

  • Unlike other suicides, law enforcement will not investigate an assisted suicide to determine the cause of death or whether the person was coerced or forced – or if the person was murdered after he changed his mind, as Gene was.
  • The underlying disease  – not suicide – is listed as the cause of death, which means doctors and coroners have to lie on the person's death certificate. 
  • In fact, the law does not permit the use of the word suicide to describe the process of self-ingesting a lethal dose of barbiturates to end one's life.
  • If a doctor was negligent in making the initial diagnosis or prognosis, no one will know because all records will state that the person died of the alleged disease.
  • An "interested" witness – someone who will benefit financially from the person's death – can sign off on the suicide drug request.
  • A family member can initiate the request for assisted suicide – Shavelson says that most of the calls to his suicide clinic come from family members, not from the person seeking suicide.
  • Any doctor or osteopath can write the prescription. No prior doctor-patient relationship with the person seeking suicide drugs is required.
  • No mental health evaluation is required, even though the majority of people who receive a terminal diagnosis suffer from depression.
  • Someone else can pick up the lethal drugs from the pharmacy.

In short, assisted suicide laws are designed to facilitate the perfect crime. 

So how does this affect me?

You might wonder how this affects you or your loved ones since you would never seek assisted suicide.

Proponents of assisted suicide want to normalize suicide as THE end-of-life option. It is not an accident that California's law is called the End of Life Option – not options – Act.

Shavelson's goal is for hospice to "take over" assisted suicide. Compassion and Choices – the former Hemlock Society now heavily funded by George Soros – wants to "change the health care system" so that suicide is legalized nationwide. Faye Girsh, Senior Adviser at the Final Exit Network, says it should "be a crime" to not allow someone to kill themselves. Dr. Philip Nitschke, Director and Founder of Exit International, says "people have a right to dispose of [their] life whenever they want."

Former Compassion and Choices litigator and head of the End of Life Liberty Project Kathryn Tucker says "it would be appropriate for the practice to become more normalized within the practice of medicinewith less government oversight and regulation."

Life Legal regularly handles cases involving the denial or withdrawal of life-sustaining medical care without the patient's consent. People are starved and dehydrated to death against their will because it has become "normalized within the practice of medicine" to deprive people of basic care. 

I shudder to imagine what full-scale normalization of assisted suicide would look like.

What we do know already is that normalizing suicide means:

  • Insurance providers will happily cover the cost of a deadly dose of barbiturates to avoid having to pay for actual medical care and treatment.
  • Some doctors will simply write a prescription for lethal drugs instead of encouraging patients to seek a second opinion for potentially treatable diseases.
  • new industry is being created that allows doctors who do not offer any medical care or treatment to charge patients exorbitant fees in exchange for a prescription for lethal drugs.

We are following in the path of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Canada, where the normalization of assisted suicide quickly led to voluntary – and involuntary – euthanasia.

Published with permission from the Life Legal Defense Foundation.

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