More states consider physician-assisted death

Feb 13, 2018

By Alison Laurio, News contributor

“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more.”I'm still loving you...

“The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type. … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

Brittany Maynard posted that message to friends and family on Facebook before she died on Nov. 1, 2014. Diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, the 29-year-old Californian moved to Oregon so she could become a resident and use its Death With Dignity Act.

Physician-assisted death, which has long been a controversial topic, is legal by state law in California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia. It is legal in Montana through a court ruling, and more states are considering similar bills.

In a policy statement published in “Social Work Speaks,” NASW stated it is mindful of a variety of opinions concerning the legalization of PAD and recognizes that states govern decisions in their own jurisdictions, so it “has not adopted a national position either in support of or in opposition to legalization.”

“In states in which PAD is legal, however, NASW affirms both the right of individuals to choose this option and the responsibility of health care systems and practitioners to honor clients’ choices.”

In states where PAD is being considered or is legal, “NASW also affirms the social work role in creating and implementing state policies and procedures that reflect the ethical values and principles of social work, such as preventing abuse of individuals in vulnerable situations.”

“Furthermore, NASW upholds the social work role in clients’ end-of-life decision-making processes and encourages further study, both within and beyond the profession, of the many complex issues associated with PAD.”

The statement also lists 19 specific principles and goals related to clients’ end-of-life decision making and care.

From the February 2018 NASW News. Read the full story here.