ASSISTED SUICIDE: Ballot Measure Finalized In Michigan
The Michigan Board of Canvassers yesterday approved final language for an assisted-suicide initiative that will appear on the state's November 3 ballot. The official title for Proposal B will contain the word "suicide," as opposed to "hasten death" as urged by proponents of the measure. Merian's Friends, "the group that lead a petition drive to place Proposal B on the ballot, objected to using the phrase 'commit suicide' in the ballot title," the Detroit Free Press reports. But "suicide" was included by the state elections board, "with some language pushed by an opposition group led by Right to Life Michigan." If Proposal B is approved, Michigan would become the "second state, following Oregon, to adopt" an assisted-suicide law. Proposal B would also "supercede an assisted-suicide ban signed into law" last month (Christoff, 8/25).
Rep. Hyde's Bill Makes Sense
Writing in today's Boston Globe, Brown University School of Medicine associate professor Ralph Miech praises a bill introduced by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) that would make "explicit a longstanding national policy that physician-assisted suicide is not a legitimate medical purpose under the Controlled Substances Act." Miech says that what is important about the Hyde bill is that it clarifies federal law governing palliative care and aggressive pain management. "For the first time," he writes, "the federal government positively states that aggressive efforts to control pain are legitimate, even if they hasten death, so long as they are not done for the purpose of causing death." Miech adds, "More important, the legislation's explicit encouragement of appropriate drug use for the control of chronic pain in the terminally ill serves to guarantee that patients will receive treatment they desperately need and deserve in order to face the final stage of life in dignity and comfort" (8/25).
Not So Fast
The American Pharmaceutical Association opposes Rep. Hyde's bill. According to APhA trustee Betty Harris, PharmD, the bill "would force the pharmacist to shift from health care professional colleague and patient advocate to the policeman of pain medications. HR 4006/S 2151 will add a new risk to dispensing pain medications to patients: the pharmacist must determine whether a particular prescription that would increase the dose of a medication is being prescribed to manage increased pain, or to voluntarily terminate life" (8/20).