CLI Expert: Report on CA Assisted Suicide Deaths Lacks Data – Accountability Needed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 13, 2017
Contact: Nicole Stacy, nstacy@sba-list.org, 202-223-8073

Pro-Assisted Suicide Group Says 500+ Californians Have Received Lethal Prescriptions, But Numbers are Likely Higher;
CLI Associate Scholar Dr. Jacqueline Harvey is Available for Comment

 Washington, D.C. – A bioethics and public policy expert with the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) criticized a national advocacy group’s report on California’s year-old assisted suicide law, calling it premature and unreliable.

The pro-assisted suicide group Compassion & Choices reported that at least 504 Californians have been prescribed life-ending drugs since the End of Life Option Act took effect last year, but that the total will be significantly higher when individuals who did not contact their organization are counted in the state’s report, due to be released July 1.

CLI Associate Scholar Dr. Jacqueline Harvey, a political science faculty member at Tarleton State University in Texas, wrote in response that the report is “full of dubious statistics that begs more questions than it feigns to answer.”

Noting that California’s law mandates the falsification of death certificates to list the underlying illness, rather than the act of suicide, as the cause of death, Harvey continued:

“Actual vital statistics provided by valid death certificates are critical to determining not just how many actually followed-through suicide rather than those who had a change of heart – how many died of their underlying natural illness or how many even may have been misdiagnosed and have gone on to live long and healthy lives – a circumstance that has been known to happen for people who have rejected euthanasia…[B]y championing the charge to hide real data on cause of death, [Compassion & Choices] assured that this is something we can never know.”

CLI President Chuck Donovan noted that California’s obscuring of death statistics is a recurring problem affecting public policy analysis of and response to some of today’s most pressing issues:

“The withholding of data and the masking of what is actually occurring on issues of life and death is all too common in our era, and the prime victim of this lack of transparency is the truth. The people of California, and citizens in other states considering assisted suicide laws, must have access to what is really happening in the Golden State, especially when the laws involved are those prone to prey on the weak, the depressed and the medically impoverished.  We will continue to critique these laws and practices and demand full disclosure to policy makers and the public. This is the only path to accountability.”

Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony List.  CLI is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world. The Institute is named for a feminist physician known for her commitment to the sanctity of human life and equal career and educational opportunities for women.

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