June 24, 2014
The right-to-die movement is heading into even more dangerous territory by spreading the message that people can agree to a protocol known as Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking, or VSED. Residents of assisted living facilities and others who are considered frail or disabled are being urged to consider this “option” while they are still competent to make that choice.
Joining Radio Maria’s “Gospel of Life” host Janet Morana tonight at 6 p.m. ET for a discussion of VSED will be Rita Marker, J.D., executive director of the Patients Rights Council in Steubenville, Ohio.
“VSED is legal in every state,” Rita says. Patients who choose VSED will then expect health-care facilities to make them comfortable during the extended and painful death brought on by dehydration. If hospitals, nursing homes, hospices or other health-care facilities do not have written policies stating that they will not provide this palliative care, they could find themselves in the position of having to help a patient kill themselves by VSED.
“We’re not talking about people being fed through a feeding tube, or people who can’t eat or can’t swallow,” Rita says. “We’re talking about people who choose, or are encouraged, to stop eating and drinking.”
To read more about VSED, go to http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/VSED_Questions.pdf and be sure to tune in “Gospel of Life” at http://radiomaria.us.
Tonight Janet and Rita also will discuss the Protective Medical Decisions Document available from the Patients Rights Council. The document allows individuals to name a trusted family member or friend to make health-care decisions for them if they become permanently or temporarily unable to make such decisions for themselves.
By contrast, a Living Will gives power and authority to an “attending physician” to withhold or withdraw medical interventions under certain circumstances. Family members and others who are familiar with the signer’s values and wishes have no legal standing to interpret the meaning of the Living Will.
Tune in to this vitally important discussion, and if you have a question or comment during the show, call 866-333-6279 to speak to Janet or Rita on the air. You can also email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org before or during the show.
“Gospel of Life” is presented by Priests for Life/Gospel of Life Ministries. It airs on Radio Maria every Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET, and is rebroadcast on Thursday at 2 a.m. Past shows are archived at www.priestsforlife.org/radiomaria.
In Washington State, terminally ill adult patients have had the right to ask their physician to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to end their life since 2009 under the state’s Death with Dignity Act. Nearly 550 people have acted on that right since the law went into effect. In 2013, 175 people were given lethal doses of medication, an increase of 43 percent since 2012.
In New Jersey this month, two dozen disabled people – many in wheelchairs – attended a hearing to warn state legislators that a similar bill under consideration there was an open invitation to abuse. The lawmakers on the Assembly committee passed the measure anyway.
The mainstream media lampooned Gov. Sarah Palin when she warned that the Affordable Health Care Act would lead to death panels for the elderly and terminally ill. Now the federal government is again considering reimbursing doctors for talking to Medicare patients and their families about “advance care planning,” including living wills and end-of-life treatment options.
Doctors who are paid for having these discussions are much more likely to initiate them with their patients, and studies show that when given a choice, patients often forgo invasive procedures at the end of life.
For Rita Marker, executive director of the Patients Rights Council, these developments are all cause for concern. Rita will join “Gospel of Life” host Janet Morana tonight at 6 p.m. ET on Radio Maria for an in-depth discussion of right-to-die movement and where it might lead.
“With spiraling health-care costs, we have to wonder how long it is before life-prolonging treatments aren’t covered by insurance, but doctor-prescribed suicide is,” Rita wrote in an opinion piece for the New York Times.