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

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.

Pop media soft-peddling death

As usual, it’s being done under the disguise of compassion.

This storyline is getting mainstreamed, and even if well-intended, it’s dangerous.

I often think back on the tumultuous year that lapsed between my mother’s announcement that she wanted to “end things” and the night she succumbed to a lack of food and water, along with an intentional overdose of morphine.

The gulf in between is unchartered territory for families who haven’t been there yet, so this story is plausibly their eventual story, and they’re reading with an uneasy but inquisitive interest, no doubt.

What, I wonder, could my sisters and I have done differently? Should we have tried harder to talk her out of it? Insisted that she talk to a psychiatrist? Made sure she didn’t have access to lethal drugs or medications?

These are the kinds of difficult questions that face the friends and relatives of sick and elderly people who express a wish to end their lives. As my sisters and I can testify, the emotions stirred up by such a request can be intense and overwhelming. In our case, they ranged from sadness that our mother found her situation intolerable (she was suffering from advanced Parkinson’s disease), to disappointment that she was “giving up,” to anxiety at the prospect of being there when she did it.

As my friend Nancy Valko points out about this story, which she saw featured on Oprah a while back:

The moral is apparently that when we put our own so-called bias aside and support the suicial person who has “the predictable effects of living with a SERIOUS OR DEBILITATING disease”, we will all benefit. (emphasis added)

Valko says this is dead wrong.

We have to get the point across that suicide is always the wrong “choice” and that we cannot discriminate when it comes to suicide prevention and treatment.

She knows this firsthand, both professionally as a longtime pro-life nurse/bioethics expert and personally as the mother of a young woman who tragically ended her own life.

Suicide is an unmitigated horror that is being soft-pedaled to the public while putting vulnerable people at risk as well as destroying our medical and legal ethics.

Don’t buy into this pop culture PR about ‘death with dignity’ because it isn’t. And what they’re peddling as ‘self-determination’ is nearly always someone else’s determination to hasten death exonerated by semantics.

Take the advice of Terri Schiavo’s family. Don’t wait until it happens to you to get informed about what to do, when it may be too late.