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Will You Commit to Care?

 Dr. Joseph B. Fuiten
August 28, 2008


Dear Fellow Christians,

I'm writing to you today to ask you to please join me in a "Commitment to Caregiving".

On November 4, 2008, Washington State voters will vote on I-1000, the so-called "Death with Dignity" initiative, which would legalize physician-assisted suicide in our state.

Physician-assisted suicide is unnecessary because patients already have the right to refuse treatment, current pain treatments are effective, and only another person facilitating suicide is illegal, not the act itself. The Oregon experience shows that the supposed safeguards are being disregarded and that substandard medical care goes unpunished. Oregon's process is shrouded in secrecy.

As in Oregon, the proposed Washington law would provide immunity for physicians from disciplinary and malpractice actions while helping to hide substandard medical practices such as failure to treat depression and inadequate informed consent. Factor in the mandate to falsify the death certificate to hide the suicide act plus no requirement for notification of family and you have devastating public policy.

Physician-assisted suicide dramatically changes
the role of physicians from being advocates of
healing to becoming accomplices in aiding death.


All of us are vulnerable when we approach the end of life; moreover, physicians have always been "at risk" of becoming "judges" of who is and who is not fit to live. Subtle economic and social pressures would turn this "choice by a few" into the "duty to die" for many.

A similar 1991 initiative failed in Washington. Oregon's law passed with only 51% of the vote, and has been in effect for 10 years, but proponents of assisted suicide have been defeated in four states at the ballot box and since 1994 multiple state legislative bills have repeatedly failed in 22 states.

There is nevertheless reason for great concern because advocates began planning and accumulating money years ago, specifically targeting Washington because of its social-political landscape and proximity to Oregon. They have stated, they hope for the domino effect consistent with their international efforts: widespread legalization including more than the terminally ill as well as "help" for those unable to self-administer.

True compassion is walking along with someone on their journey, not helping them or hinting to them to take a shortcut. Consider using a Sunday before ballots are cast for "Commitment to Caregiving" to encourage our Christian communities to be truly compassionate towards the terminally ill and share in the hard work of caring for them, and also oppose I-1000.

The Christian Medical Association has made available a DVD with interview clips from Washington State that can be used in worship services, Sunday school, and for other groups. There are 5 min, 11 min, and 28.5 min options.
The American Academy of Medical Ethics has also created a brochure summarizing this issue. Both the DVD and the brochure are available upon request to christian.doctors@verizon.net.

The Family Policy Institute of Washington is making the brochure and other resources available for download at www.fpiw.org, as is the Christian Medical and Dental Associations at www.cmda.org.

Sincerely,

Pastor Joe Fuiten

Dr. Joseph B. Fuiten is the senior pastor of Cedar Park Church in Bothell, Washington, and he is the former president of Positive Christian Agenda. Currently, Pastor Fuiten serves on the Board of Directors for the Family Policy Institute of Washington, an associate organization of Focus on the Family.