A Welcome Passing

2022: A Year to Forget

Good riddance to 2022!!

No social or political movement advances in a straight line.  There are always bumps in the road.  Whenever a dynamic effervescence of a progressive development seems to be upsetting years if not generations of tradition, there will be pushback from those uncomfortable with the Brave New World which the advancement is promoting.

And such it was for MAID in 2022.  Since 2016, after a lacuna of 7 years, in rapid succession CA, CO, HI, DC, ME, NJ and NM adopted MAID legislation.  It seemed that every year, a new state passed this milestone law.  And across the world, as well progress was recorded as Spain, Australia and New Zealand all implemented MAID and euthanasia laws, while the Portuguese parliament repeatedly approved legislation, only to be stymied by the immovable veto pen of the country's popular and very Catholic President.

But then in 2022, not a single state advanced legislation, although Conn came mighty close.  In over 20 states, MAID bills were introduced, but in no case did they get passed; in fact in most cases they were bottled up in the death chamber known as the Rules Committee, as was the case for HB780 in North Carolina.  We didn't even get the courtesy of a legislative study.

In Mass, a long standing challenge by Dr Kligler to Mass' threat to prosecute any physician who would write an Aid in Dying prescription, even in the absence of any statutory prohibition, was rejected by the Mass Supreme Judicial Court.  Even more damning, the Court concluded a physician who wrote a prescription could be prosecuted for common law involuntary homicide, a felony.

For us in North Carolina, this was a mighty blow indeed, since NC also has no statutory prohibition to MAID, and it had not been irrational to presume that a physician writing a Terminal Comfort Care prescription need not fear prosecution.

Finally, at the end of the year, a Federal district court in California rejected a challenge under the ADA to the prohibition of assisted administration, even in the very rare instances where the individual in question is no longer physically capable of bringing the glass of aid in dying medicine to her lips.

So in 2022, nothing but disappointment on both the judicial and legislative fronts.

The question in the face of this parade of disappointments:   Is this the high water mark of our cause... or merely the pause that refreshes?

The latter seems far more likely given that MAID laws are not some type of fad from which people will soon move on.  Au contraire, the US (and global) populations continue to age while the medicalization of the dying process will, if anything,  become more protracted, futile if not senseless.  People will learn there is another way;  hospice and palliation are wonderful, but the futility of a life of suffering and pain and existential angst subject to a delimited timeline will press upon the wish to continue.

We hope there is a reboot in 2023.  This movement represents the future of the last uncharted civil right: the right to die according to one's own narrative.