Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Governor Terry Branstad wait to address the 2014 Rally for Life.
Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Governor Terry Branstad wait to address the 2014 Rally for Life.

(Des Moines, IA) Yesterday eight Iowa House Democrats filed HF 65 entitled the “Iowa Death with Dignity Act.”  Prolife activists have another term for it – doctor prescribed suicide.

“House File 65 purports this idea of ‘death with dignity.’  Truly it is not a ‘dignified’ to end one’s life,” Jenifer Bowen, executive director of Iowa Right to Life, told Caffeinated Thoughts.  “Call it what it is—doctor prescribed suicide.”

The bill is co-sponsored by State Representatives Brian Meyer (D-Des Moines), Dennis Cohoon (D-Burlington), Sally Stutsman (D-Riverside), Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City), Timi Brown-Powers (D-Waterloo), Mary Wolfe (D-Clinton), Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines), and Beth Wessel Kroeschell (D-Ames).  Currently there are not any organizations who have registered in favor of the bill.  Iowa Right to Life and Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition have registered against HF 65.

The bill provides for a competent terminally ill adult Iowa resident the ability to request medication they can use to commit suicide.  The diagnosis of terminal illness has to be verified by two physicians.  The bill also makes those who coerce a patient, falsify a request for medication or destroy a patient’s recision of that request and it leads to the patient’s death can be charged with a class A felony that carries a mandatory life sentence without parole.

J. Wesley Smith who is a lawyer and consultant for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide against bills like this at a rally in the Iowa Statehouse last year.  “How did we make it so that our mothers and fathers and our aunts and our uncles think that they could possibly be a burden upon us?” Smith asked during his speech last year.  He warned that bills like this are a slippery slope pointing out that methods like assisted suicide expanded in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland now those countries allow euthanasia of those who are mentally ill and children.  He also pointed out that Oregon, which was the first state to pass an assisted suicide bill, has now seen health care rationing.

It should be noted that HF 65 is not technically an assisted suicide bill, but physicians may be present at the request of the patient.  They are not, however, allowed to administer the medication.  Activists like Smith warn it is only a matter of time.  The bill has little chance of passing this year, but it is likely to be the first of several such bills filed in order to desensitize the electorate.

The driving force behind the bills like these is an organization called Compassion and Choices formerly known as the Hemlock Society.   This issue garnered national attention after Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer called Glioblastoma, with the help of Compassion and Choices shared her desire to take her own life with just a few months left to live.  Maynard and her husband moved to Oregon where she was able to obtain the medication to end her life which she did in early November.  Using Maynard’s story Compassion and Choices launched a nationwide petition effort.  Compassion and Choices was recently caught by an Iowa woman falsely adding names of non-supporters to their petition.

Maggie Kramer, who is diagnosed with the same brain tumor Maynard had, recently called out Compassion and Choices at the East Coast Conference Against Assisted Suicide.   “Compassion and Choices apparently doesn’t want a reasoned public debate on this issue. They want people to react emotionally. Proponents of assisted suicide and euthanasia want to capitalize on emotions, and more importantly, they want to change our vocabulary. You’ll notice that Brittany (Maynard) refused to call what she did suicide. She didn’t like the baggage that came with the word ‘suicide’. She preferred to call it ‘death with dignity’,” Kramer stated.

Bowen had strong words for those who put forth this bill in Iowa.

“We rebuke these legislators and their supporters.  Certainly those suffering from potentially terminal illnesses need our true compassion and love.  They do not need to be handed a set of pills to kill themselves,” Bowen explained.  “It’s profoundly misguided to call it ‘compassion’ and refuse to eliminate earthly physical pain and instead kill the one who is suffering.”

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