Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Last week Kaiser Health News ran this story, Terminally Ill, He Wanted Aid-In-Dying. His Catholic Hospital Said No.
Even as an increasing number of U.S. states have legalized aid-in-dying laws, exercising that option is challenging for patients in a country where most large hospital systems have deep religious ties and the religious right is powerful. One in 6 hospital patients is now cared for at a Catholic hospital, according to the Catholic Health Association. Aid-in-dying is a legal right, but desperate patients are often left feeling they are doing something terribly, morally wrong.
The patient resides in Colorado, which has had their PAD law since 2016. We had blogged previously about the hospital when it fired a doctor "for consulting with [the patient who is the subject of this article], with the aim of carrying out his wishes." "[T]he practice [is regarded] as “intrinsically evil,” citing the ﬁrm’s governing rules, the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. The hospital has barred its doctors from following the state law."
Despite the small increments in the number of states that have legalized PAD, "[e]ven when the practice is legal, it often isn’t accessible. Some doctors are barred from participating by their employers. Others refuse to do so. In some cases, the drugs themselves may be too expensive. A dose of Seconal, which was once the most commonly prescribed drug for the practice, can run more than $3,000. The government and some private insurers won’t cover it."
The article follows the patient's struggle to find another doctor to help him, and the path he followed as he made plans for his death. The lawsuit filed by the doctor fired from the hospital has not yet been resolved, according to the article.