From Not Dead Yet: (click for full article)
On July 11, the online publication Solutions, “a project of the Buechner Institute for Governance at the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver,” included an article by Diane Carman entitled “Doctors, patient challenge New Mexico’s assisted suicide ban.”
The New Mexico court case was brought by Compassion and Choices attorney Kathryn Tucker on behalf of two doctors and a woman with cancer and, according to the article, asks what is the meaning of “assisted suicide”? Carman begins by asking:
If a terminally-ill patient refuses a ventilator or a feeding tube and the physician yields to that decision, is that assisting suicide? If the patient is in excruciating pain and requests total sedation and no nutrition or fluids, can the doctor be held accountable for his death? What if the patient seeks a prescription from her physician so that when the pain of dying is overwhelming she can seek the ultimate relief on her own?
Throughout the 1980’s and across the country, courts repeatedly and unequivocally answered “no” (i.e. no problem) to the first two questions, but Compassion and Choices (C&C) often raises the specter of being hooked to unwanted tubes and forced to endure unwanted medical treatments when advocating for something completely different than the well established right to refuse treatment. Despite nearly 25 years of widespread public education about using advance directives to refuse unwanted treatment, C&C counts on people to forget these facts and conflate the issues. C&C is pushing for the term “aid in dying” to include not only refusing treatment, palliative care, and hospice, but also assisted suicide, rolling it all into one focus group tested phrase.
C&C claims that state laws banning assisted suicide were never intended to refer to doctor assisted suicide of a person given a terminal prognosis. The article discusses two other cases that have looked at this issue, one in Montana and the other in Connecticut.