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COLUMBUS, Ohio (ChurchMilitant.com) - Assisted suicide may be on the path to legalization in Ohio. Senate Bill 165, the Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST), has been sent to the Ohio House of Representatives, and may be voted on before the end of the year.
The bill would would put guidelines in place for the use of MOLST for terminally ill patients, but the pro-life community sees this bill as a Trojan horse for assisted suicide. MOLST forms would provide instructions that would "become operative and govern how the patient who is the subject of the form is to be treated with respect to hospitalization, administration or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment and comfort care, administration of CPR and any other medical treatment specified on the form.”
Seemingly, the bill would allow patients to decide beforehand what procedures should be put in place with regards to end-of-life care. However, there are numerous flaws with the bill, according to the pro-life community. According to the Patients Rights Council, one concern is that, "In practice, there would be virtually no limit to the categories of individuals who would be considered eligible for MOLST." Additionally, the bill wouldn't require a patient to discuss a MOLST form with his "issuing practitioner" which some see as a troubling aspect of the bill.
In response, Cleveland Right To Life's President, Molly Smith, commented, "The importance of stopping this dangerous bill is imperative. The very fact that this bill is being pushed during a lame duck session shows that the sponsor knows she has serious grassroots opposition to this dangerous bill."
Ed Sitter, executive director of Greater Toledo Right to Life, commented that the legislation "subtly manipulates focus away from preserving life to hastening patient death."
Denise Leipold, executive director of Right to Life of Northeast Ohio, believes that the legislation has the "potential for abuse and the possibility that it could easily be used to expedite death and promote euthanasia."
Peggy Lehner, sponsor of S.B.165, has pushed back against such allegations. She remarked, "I stood at the side of pro-lifers back in the 1980s when we were trying to pass the living will, along with them saying this was going to cause euthanasia. It hasn't caused euthanasia or assisted suicide."
Nonetheless, members of the pro-life community see greater issues with this piece of legislation. In particular, Cincinnati Right to Life commented that the bill would "oversimplify medical treatment decisions, and may not accurately reflect and protect a person’s wishes, because all circumstances cannot be predicted."
Cincinnati Right to Life is bringing special attention to a particular section of the proposed law. The section would "not require signature of a physician attending the patient when the orders are implemented [and] can be implemented by non-physician facilitators."
This could lead to possible end-of-life care being carried out by those unqualified to make such decisions, according to the pro-life community.
Paula Westwood, executive director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, remarked, "Even more concerns are coming to light with Senate Bill 165, such as lack of informed consent for patients and no clear definition of terminal. End of life choices cannot be sacrificed to presumed efficiency and reduced to a simple problematic checklist."
In addition, Linda Theis, president of Ohio ProLife Action, commented, "This bill is dangerously flawed and could easily move Ohio one step closer to other bills legislating end of life issues, like assisted suicide."
This warning is backed up by the action of a co-sponsor to S.B. 165, Sen. Charleta Tavares, who has announced she will introduce a bill to legalize assisted suicide following the possible passage of S.B. 165.