Wisconsin CMA Guilds Issue Statement Opposing Legalization of Assisted Suicide

April 23, 2015

The physician-led Catholic Medical Guilds of Wisconsin, oppose Senate Bill 28 and its companion, Assembly Bill 67. These bills would exempt health care providers from criminal, civil and disciplinary liability for prescribing and dispensing lethal doses of medication.

  • People with years to live could have their lives ended by lethal doses. People with diabetes and other well-managed incurable conditions are considered terminal in Oregon where their law is the pattern for Wisconsin proposals.
  • Assisted suicide is bad medicine. It is inconsistent with our role as healers. It would undermine the trust patients have for their doctors.
  • No one, not even doctors, can predict a person’s life expectancy with certainty. Some patients who are given terminal diagnoses recover. Others go into remission.
  • People often desire to end their lives simply because of untreated or undertreated depression. This can be treated with medications and therapy.
  • Doctors and nurses may find themselves under pressure to cooperate in their patients’ suicides instead of providing life-prolonging care.
  • Legalization of assisted suicide conflicts with good public policy that protects those who are easily coerced or tricked.
  • In Belgium and the Netherlands, several large-scale government-funded surveys have found that doctors have intentionally lethally injected patients without requests from them and have failed to report cases to the authorities.[1] In Oregon, Washington and Vermont, the extent of such cases is unknown since it has never been independently verified.

For all these reasons, we oppose efforts to decriminalize assisting another person to attempt or commit suicide in Wisconsin.