H.Con.Res.79, introduced December 12, 2019 describes assisted suicide as a “deadly, discriminatory and non-compassionate practice.” The resolution states assisted suicide is not a “legitimate health care service,” and that Congress and the federal government “should not adopt or endorse policies or practices that support, encourage, or facilitate suicide or assisted suicide, whether by physicians or others.”
Bill sponsors Representative Luis Correa (D-CA) and Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) introduced the bill, once before, in 2017. At the time, Washington, D.C. had become the seventh jurisdiction in the country to legalize physician assisted suicide (PAS).
“As a physician, I believe PAS is a threat to the underpinnings of our healthcare system,” Wenstrup told Health Care News.
Wenstrup has made attempts to overturn, Washington, D.C’s, ‘Death with Dignity Act,’ at the federal level. “Building on that work, we recognized a greater need for Congress to be vocal about our concerns with PAS,” said Wenstrup. “This led me to introduce the resolution “expressing the sense of Congress that PAS puts the most vulnerable of our society at risk of deadly harm and undermines the integrity of America’s healthcare system.”
Stopping a Trend
A number of organizations support the resolution including the Patients’ Rights Action Fund, National Council on Independent Living, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, and Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Fund.
“Because PAS impacts patients and providers, there is broad support for efforts to protect life and end PAS across patient advocacy groups, disability groups, and physician groups,” Wenstrup said.
Nine states and Washington, D.C. have legalized PAS, by state law or court ruling. Wenstrup says PAS is also being legalized in other countries with discussion to expand the practice to children.
“It is more important now than ever to take a stand for the most vulnerable members of society, including the elderly, people with disabilities, and people experiencing psychiatric diagnoses,” said Wenstrup. “Patients facing the end of their lives deserve to be treated with respect and have a health care system that ensures access to the best and most comprehensive medical care possible.”
Wenstrup says he encourages Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring the resolution to the House floor, especially because of its wide and bipartisan support. “These legislative efforts serve as a vehicle to raise awareness about the dangers of devaluing life, and the beginnings of a bulwark against any attempts at federal legislation to legalize the practice,” said Wenstrup.
Ashley Bateman ([email protected]) writes from Alexandria, Virginia.
U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, (R-OH)