End of Life Issues Policy
End of Life Issues
Laws regulating end-of-life issues must be based on individual freedom and secular consequences. Religious ideas – such as the belief that humans have “souls” or that a god’s wishes must prevail – cannot be considered when making secular law. Such religious ideas may legitimately influence personal decisions, but they cannot be the basis for secular laws that must apply to everyone.
We support the right of mentally competent people who have a fatal illness that will cause death in six months, a long-term, irreversible disease with no hope of recovery, or continuing, unbearable, and untreatable pain to choose a doctor-assisted death. Consent of the patient in end-of-life decisions shall be sufficient to shield doctors and others from legal prosecution in their efforts to fulfill the wishes of terminally ill patients.
We support safeguards to ensure that this personal decision is truly voluntary. We support efforts to make sure that the desire for self-deliverance is not merely the result of depression that might be alleviated through medication or counseling, or of financial or emotional pressure being put on the person by relatives or others.
We encourage people to create living wills (advance care, end-of-life directives) to make their end-of-life desires clearly known to people they trust, who can, if necessary, act on their behalf if they become unable to communicate.
It is only by giving people the right to make such end-of-life decisions for themselves that we maintain human dignity.