Grassroots Petition Prompts Adventist Health to Take Stronger Stance on Assisted Suicide

Sonora, CA–A major West Coast health system has taken a firm stance against doctor-prescribed death, also known as assisted suicide.  The move follows a petition drive that gathered hundreds of signatures. 
The effort was spearheaded by Jennifer Warner, a mental health professional who has combated elder abuse for more than a decade.  The vulnerabilities of the elderly to life-shortening drugs hit close to home to Warner two years ago when she intervened to prevent such treatment from being administered to her own grandmother.  Warner has told her story and discussed these issues on PJI’s weekly radio show, The Dacus Report.  PJI provided input for the petition drive. 

Although Warner’s efforts initially focused on her local Adventist Health provider, Sonora Regional Medical Center, the new policy appears to have much larger implications, stating that it applies throughout California and in Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. Adventist Health operates 20 hospitals and 275 clinics in those states.
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “We commend both Adventist Health for doing the right thing for their patients, and our friend Jennifer Warner for her tremendous effort and effectiveness on this issue.  Even when disastrous legislation like doctor-prescribed death is enacted, good things can still happen when people of conscience speak up and stay involved in our communities.  We encourage everyone who cares about protecting the elderly and medically vulnerable in California to consider adapting this petition for use with their own healthcare provider.” 
Although doctor-prescribed death became legalized in California as of June 9, the legislation, officially known as the End of Life Option Act, allows health care providers, such as health systems and inpidual doctors, to refuse to participate.  Non-participation can include not allowing participation in doctor-prescribed death by anyone acting under an employment or contractual relationship with the provider.  Adventist Health’s latest policy announcement makes clear that it will exercise the full extent of its non-participation rights.  Warner says she will remain vigilant to ensure that actual practices follow the policy. 
Doctors, nurses and other health care providers who are morally opposed to participating in suicide should contact PJI to make sure they understand and are exercising their rights of conscience.