So-called “death with dignity” advocates have tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation legalizing assisted suicide in Hawai‘i for over 10 years; in fact, this legislation was re-introduced during the last legislative session. Suicide laws are a recipe for abuse of disabled, elderly, and chronically/seriously ill people. We believe that true death with dignity means that appropriate physical, emotional, and spiritual comfort be provided at the end of life.
Another area of concern is POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment), which is another effort by which euthanasia advocates attempt to convince patients to end their own lives by refusing medical treatment. POLST documents are legal in Hawaii and are widely used in healthcare facilities.
Put quite simply, POLST protocols and laws are suicide advocates’ latest attempt to label those whose lives are viewed as “futile” in order to ensure their speedy demise. POLST forms are designed to limit the use of life-saving technology, life-sustaining treatment and even ordinary care, such as the provision of food and water. “Compassion” and “patient autonomy” are the alleged motives for promulgating POLST forms. However, a look at their origin tells a different story.1
Analysis of the POLST movement “reveals that it is a national effort to manage and control death under the guise of compassion.” (Ethics and Medics, 6/2010, “The Danger of POLST Orders”.) The usual cast of characters is involved in this latest effort to advance the “right to die.” POLST was developed in the 1990’s by the Ethics group at Oregon Health & Sciences University, the group that also developed the Guidebook to the Oregon Death With Dignity Act (Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law). POLST was developed with grants from George Soros’s Project on Death in America, as well as the Greenwall Foundation and the Cummings Foundation, all frequent sponsors of right-to-die organizations. Compassion & Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society) promotes POLST. (For more detailed information/a timeline, go to www.lifetree.org.) POLST was one of the outcomes of the Project on Death in America. On 11/9/2003, the Boston Globe (Carey Goldberg, Globe Staff) reported: “… the Project on Death in America, financed by billionaire George Soros and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, poured more than $200 million over the last decade into end-of-life programs and research.”1
The POLST form differs from a Living Will or a Power of Attorney for Health Care (advance directives) because, once signed by a physician, it is the physician’s orders and may therefore be carried out immediately. Furthermore, the law governing advance directives, which requires two physicians to certify that the patient is capable of making medical decisions, will not apply to a POLST form. POLST leaves the patient wide open for abuse.1
The sick person should not be offered the option to hasten his or her death, particularly when weak, in pain, feeling overwhelmed or just plain tired of fighting. Those of us who are pro-life must vigorously oppose the POLST movement. We must protect the lives of everyone – including ourselves. We must never succumb to the false compassion of those who see planned death as the final solution to human suffering and the burden of caring for one another.1
- Grimstad, Julie, “Selective Killing Fields: POLST in Action”, January 19, 2011, http://www.humanlife.org/newsroom_weekly_wire.php (accessed March 10, 2011)
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