Alex Schadenberg,
Special to The Interim:

On January 8, I published an article titled: Assisted suicide bills must be defeated in at least 10 U.S. states. Now the assisted suicide lobby are stating that they are sponsoring assisted suicide bills in at least 16 states.

The current states with a new bill are: Florida, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The states with an existing bill carried over from last year are: Delaware, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

It is important to state that we have been successful. No new state has legalized assisted suicide in the past two years but the assisted suicide lobby remains relentless.

There are also bills to expand assisted suicide laws in at least two states where it is legal: Washington State and New Jersey.

One of the key strategies of the assisted suicide lobby is to present a “restrictive” assisted suicide bill for the purpose of getting it passed and once it is passed they introduce bills in subsequent years to expand the assisted suicide legislation.

This is not a new strategy. What has changed is that the assisted suicide lobby is publicly admitting their “bait and switch” tactic.

For instance Josh Elliott, a three term member of the Connecticut House, and a sponsor of previous assisted suicide bills was interviewed by Paul Bass for the New Haven Independent. Bass reported “Elliott has been sponsoring bills for years to allow terminally ill people to take their lives” and that under his current bill “almost no one” would qualify for an assisted death. Elliott told Bass: “The important thing for me is to get this bill on the books, and then see how it’s working, and if it’s not and people aren’t using it, then make those corrections to actually allow people to use it. So that is what we’ve been discussing.”

Elliott is clearly explaining his “bait and switch” tactic, that his goal is to pass a “restrictive” assisted suicide bill and then expand the law later.

Amy Paulin, the sponsor of the New York assisted suicide bill, recently stated that they need to get the bill passed first and then expand it later.

J.M. Sorrell, Executive Director of Massachusetts Death with Dignity, was quoted on a similar bill as saying, “Once you get something passed, you can always work on amendments later.”

Clearly the assisted suicide lobby are willing to admit to their ‘bait and switch’ tactic.

The key to holding the line on assisted suicide is to stop states from legalizing it in the first place. The key to defeating an assisted suicide bill is to call it what it is. The purpose of assisted suicide is to cause death.

The other key to defeating assisted suicide bills is to clearly explain what the assisted suicide bill says. Those who support assisted suicide will vote based on ideology but many legislators will agree that the language of legislation is fundamental.

We now have solid evidence that when an assisted suicide bill is “restrictive” that the intention is to pass the bill and expand it later.

The assisted suicide lobby will use false terminology to sell assisted suicide as a form of healthcare that provides “choice” at the end-of-life. Assisted suicide is not healthcare or aid in dying; it expedites death at the end of life.

The assisted suicide lobby claims that there is no slippery slope, yet, in the past few years nearly every assisted suicide law has been expanded by: reducing or eliminating the waiting periods, allowing non-doctors to participate in assisted suicide, allowing assisted suicide approvals by tele-health, expanding the meaning of terminal illness and removing the state residency requirement.

Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. A longer version of this article was originally published on his blog on Jan. 12 and is reprinted with permission.