Euthanasia / Assisted Suicide - Archive

Health Care Providers in Washington State Refuse to Perform Assisted Suicide (2008)

[This was in 2008. We are not certain if this policy still exists.]

Eastern Washington’s largest hospital system, Providence Health Care, has said assisted suicide will not be permitted in its hospitals: “This position is grounded in our basic values of respect for the sacredness of life, compassionate care of dying and vulnerable persons, and respect for the integrity of medical, nursing, and allied health professions. We do not believe health care providers should ever be put in a position of aiding a patient in taking his or her own life.”

The statement follows the deeply controversial passage of the ballot measure, I-1000, which on November 4th legalized assisted suicide in Washington State. Author and bioethicist Wesley Smith commented on Providence’s resolve: “This is important. Medical professionals must resist turning killing … into a medical treatment.”

“None can be forced (yet) to participate,” he says, adding, “Of course, eventually the ideologues will try and force people to participate or be complicit in the killing.”

He says, however, that Providence’s example is vital because it “may save lives of people” who, because of the decisions “of non participating medical professionals, will never ask for assisted suicide.”

I-1000, which allows physicians to prescribe lethal doses of barbiturates to patients they think have less than six months to live, was also resisted by numerous physicians. The Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) was emphatically against the statute.

In a press release in July, the WSMA’s president Brian Wicks said, “We believe physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the role of physicians as healers…Patients put their trust in physicians and that bond of trust would be irrevocably harmed by the provisions of this dangerous initiative.”

“Initiative-1000 gives doctors power which we do not want and which we believe is contrary to good medical practice,” he continued. “The initiative is a dangerous distraction from symptom-directed end-of-life care that provides comfort for dying patients and their families. Our focus should remain on caring for terminally ill patients and should never shift toward helping them kill themselves.”
[7Nov08, By Jonquil Frankham, Washington State,]


WASHINGTON BECOMES 2ND U.S. STATE WITH LEGAL ASSISTED SUICIDE. The state of Washington voted to allow legal assisted suicide according to the Oregon model in yesterday’s ballot. Initiative 1000, the Washington “Death with Dignity Act,” which allows physicians to prescribe a fatal dose of medication to patients whom a doctor feels is likely to die within six months, passed in the state 59% to 41%. The measure was formulated in imitation of Oregon Measure 16, which was passed in 1994. Euthanasia movement supporters donated enormous sums of money to press Washington’s Initiative 1000 forward, believing that, should it pass, the “domino effect” would soon help to legalise assisted suicide in other states. [ Life Site News]
WASHINGTON DOCTORS, HOSPITALS REFUSE TO TAKE PART IN NEW ASSISTED SUICIDE LAW. Voters in Washington may have made their state the second in the nation to legalize assisted suicide but that doesn’t mean patients who want their physician’s help in killing themselves will be able to get it. Doctors and hospitals are already speaking up saying they will refuse assisted suicide requests. Though voters approved I-1000 on Tuesday, the Washington State Medical Association says doctors have no obligation to participate in killing patients. Meanwhile, Providence Health and Services, the largest medical system in eastern Washington, states it will prohibit doctors from killing patients at its medical centers, nursing homes and other facilities. [8Nov08,, #4466, Olympia]