End Of Life Options Act Clashes With Religious Rights Of Doctors

“Hospice philosophy seeks neither to shorten someone’s life nor to prolong it, but to treat and recognize the dignity of each person,” Cochrane told National Review. “The goal of the physician should be to heal, not to harm.”

When California’s End of Life Options Act went into effect in 2016, legalizing assisted suicide — or assisted dying for those who want to obscure the obvious ethical dilemma involved — it offered key protections to doctors like Cochrane, who want nothing to do with it. But that changed last year when Senate Bill 380 took effect. The law made it easier for patients to obtain life-ending drugs faster. Cochrane said the law also now mandates his participation.

In February of 2022, Cochrane and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, with the backing from lawyers at Alliance Defending Freedom, filed a lawsuit arguing that the law violates Cochrane’s conscience rights, his religious freedom, and compels his speech.

In late December, ADF filed a lawsuit challenging New Mexico’s new physician-assisted suicide law on similar grounds. The law, signed by the state’s Democratic governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2021, has been hailed by supporters as the most progressive and accessible in the nation. But ADF lawyers say it also requires doctors to participate in physician-assisted suicide in ways that violate their religious convictions and professional ethics.

The lawsuits hinge on what it means to “participate” in physician-assisted suicide. Neither state requires a doctor to prescribe lethal drugs to a terminal patient who requests them. But what about requiring doctors to fill out forms needed to move forward with a suicide request? Or requiring doctors of faith to refer patients to other doctors who will help them kill themselves, or requiring them to transfer records to those doctors? Are those forms of participation? ADF lawyers say yes, and they also argue that it is unconstitutional to mandate that doctors inform their terminally ill patients about the availability of physician-assisted suicide. Read More»

Ryan Mills | “Doctors Fight Laws That Would Force Them to Help Kill Their Patients” | February 4, 2023


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