Thursday, February 8, 2018

Update: Touted Safeguards Are Neutralized; Unenforceable

Margaret Dore
By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA

HB 2739 seeks to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia as those terms are traditionally defined. The bill also promotes itself as having “robust" safeguards.[1] Indeed, the bill goes so far as to say that its "rigorous safeguards would be the strongest of any state in the nation and will thoroughly protect patients and their loved ones from any potential abuse."[2]

The purported safeguards are enumerated and include that the attending provider “shall” refer the patient to a consulting provider, and that the attending provider “shall” offer the patient an opportunity to rescind the lethal dose request.[3]

The bill, however, also says that the attending provider is merely to ensure that all “appropriate” steps are carried out, and that the provider is held to an “accordance” standard. The bill, 
§ 4, states:

The attending provider shall: . . .
(11) Ensure that all appropriate steps are carried out in accordance with this chapter . . . .  (Emphasis added).[4]
The bill does not define "appropriate" or “accordance.”[5] Dictionary definitions of appropriate include "suitable or fitting."[6] Dictionary definitions of accordance include “in the spirit of,” meaning “in thought or intention.”[7] 

With these definitions, the attending provider’s mere view of what is "suitable or fitting" is enough for safeguard compliance. The provider's mere "thought or intention" is similarly sufficient. The touted safeguards are thus neutralized to whatever an attending provider happens to feel is appropriate and/or had a thought or intention to do. They are unenforceable.

[1]  HB 2739§ 1, p.2, lines 11-12.
[2]  Id , p.3, lines 14-16.
[3]  The bill§ 4,  p. 9, line 13 to p. 11, states:
(a) The attending provider shall: . . . 
(4) Refer the patient to a consulting provider for medical confirmation of the diagnosis, and for a determination that the patient is capable and acting voluntarily; . . .
(8) Inform the patient that a qualified patient may rescind the request at any time and in any manner, and offer the qualified patient an opportunity to rescind at the time of the qualified patient's second oral request made pursuant to section - 9 . . . . (Emphasis added).
[4]  The bill, pp. 9 & 11.
[5]  See the bill in its entirety.
[6]  See definition of "appropriate" at this link.
[7]  See definitions of "accordance" and "in the spirit of," here and here.