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In California, Abandoning Terminally Ill with Mental Illnesses to Their Darkest Impulses

Wesley J. Smith

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California has promulgated a regulation to assure that the mentally ill who have been ordered hospitalized in California have access to assisted suicide if they are dying and deemed able to make medical decisions. From 9 California Code of Regulations § 4601 (emphasis added):

(a) A terminally ill patient, as defined by the End of Life Option Act, may petition the superior court for access to participate in activities under the End of Life Option Act by requesting release from the custody of the Department of State Hospitals from the court. If the court orders release from the custody of the Department of State Hospitals, the Department of State Hospitals shall release the patient to the ordered entity or person.

In California, people can be involuntarily hospitalized for psychiatric reasons if they are found by a court, beyond a reasonable doubt, to be a danger to themselves or others.

Thus, if a suicidal patient requests to be released to commit suicide but isn’t terminally ill, he will be refused if he is still considered a mortal danger to himself. But if the same patient has terminal cancer, he must be released in order to commit suicide. That’s not only nuts, but the state is abandoning the terminally ill with mental illnesses to their darkest impulses.

And what if a court decides the patient is, say, too dangerous to be let out? The state must facilitate the suicide by either transporting the mentally ill patient to a death site or see the deed done at the state facility:

If a court orders that the patient meets the qualifications under the End of Life Option Act, and that the Department of State Hospitals shall facilitate the patient’s access to participate in activities under the End of Life Option Act, the Department of State Hospitals will facilitate the patient’s access to an off-site facility that allows the patient the ability to participate in activities under the End of Life Option Act….

1) If the court orders that the patient meets the qualifications under the End of Life Option Act, and the Department of State Hospitals is unable to find an off-site facility for the patient to participate in activities under the End of Life Option Act, the Department of State Hospitals will facilitate the patient’s ability to participate in activities under the End of Life Option Act on-site.

Think about that. There will be patients forcibly hospitalized in these institutions because they are suicidal, who will know that other patients are being assisted in suicide. The mind boggles!

But it’s not unexpected. In Oregon, Michael Freeland was lethally prescribed (two years before dying naturally). Prior to getting around to killing himself, he became psychotic and was forcibly hospitalized. His psychiatrist made sure his guns were taken but also that the poison prescription “remained safely at home,” even though he would “experience periods of delirium,” the shrink wrote in Freeland’s medical records.

Abuses of assisted suicide in Oregon, Wesley? What abuses?

To recap: My state, which may soon do away with the death penalty, specifically will require government participation and facilitation of the suicides of mentally ill people if they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

This so-called “death with dignity” movement is driving us out of our collective minds.

Photo credit: zebrahaus via Pixabay.
Cross-posted at The Corner.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.

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