Don’t kill. And don’t make me help you die.

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And don’t make me lie about knowing you’re killing yourself, either.

Since euthanasia laws are in place in some of our states now, and that movement is spreading like a cancer, some basic reminders are in order. Like the ones in this column.

People requesting suicide assistance are not required to tell their families, though doctors who choose to participate (nobody has to) must recommend that they do so. Life insurers may not deny payment, as some do in cases of suicide.

Doctors who write these prescriptions and pharmacists who fill them are protected from civil or criminal liability and from disciplinary action by professional boards as long as they report their actions to the state.

The law protects the interests of everybody but the medical examiner.

The act says that “the patient’s death certificate … shall list the underlying terminal disease as the cause of death.”

This sounds like movie fiction. But read it knowing it describes the facts as they now are. 

The certificate may not reference the Death with Dignity Act, mention the drug used to terminate life or contain terms such as suicide, assisted suicide, physician-assisted suicide, mercy killing or euthanasia. The manner of death must be certified as natural.

If any death certificate fails to comply, the Washington state registrar will reject it and require the medical certifier to sign an “acceptable correction” before issuing a permit allowing burial or cremation – “acceptable correction” meaning a misstatement of the facts.

The writer is a forensic pathologist, and serves as a country coroner. She decided to express herself from this unique base of experience. She’s okay with “the right of the individual to choose suicide”…

…and I accept that the majority may decide what laws they will be governed by, but the legal requirement for a cover-up is nuts.

Now that’s an interesting way to state the case. It’s unusual candor in print in any media.

Death with dignity is a fine phrase, but where’s the dignity in forcing doctors to sign certificates that misstate the facts?

I’m no fan of euphemisms or political correctness. Assisted suicide is suicide. Legalize it if you will, but call it what it is.

Yes. Call things what they are. Clarity is startling.

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