By Julie Grimstad, President, HALO Board of Directors
In 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill called the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA). Fortunately, this closet euthanasia bill failed to move in the Senate. Unfortunately, it has been reintroduced in the 116th Congress as H.R. 647.
The Healthcare Advocacy and Leadership Organization (HALO) has profound respect for the sanctity of human life and promotes life-affirming healthcare. Therefore, for the following reasons, HALO will vigorously oppose all attempts to enact legislation promoting hospice and palliative medicine (HPM) that does not explicitly prohibit providers from committing euthanasia as traditionally defined.
HALO is concerned about the well-being and lives of all people.
HALO cites numerous tragic cases of our help being sought when a loved one was being overdosed with analgesics and sedatives, and/or denied basic care such as food and water and usual medications, or when a loved one’s death was hastened—in an HPM setting—without the family realizing what was happening at the time. Consequently, we are hard-pressed to identify which hospice and palliative care programs can be trusted to care for—not to kill—the patients entrusted to them.
Dr. Farr A. Curlin, a palliative medicine specialist at Duke University, validates our concerns:
Many patients and their families don’t trust HPM and are resistant to it. I encounter such individuals in the hospital and in the community, among people of all walks of life and social strata but particularly among ethnic minorities and members of religious communities. These individuals tell stories about loved ones who declined slowly over time, fighting the good fight with the support and companionship of their family members and friends. When HPM professionals became involved in their care, their loved ones were put on powerful drugs, became unconscious and unresponsive, and were soon dead. These stories are clearly shared within communities and powerfully shape people’s perceptions of HPM, which many see as a sophisticated and seductive way of getting people to die.
Dr. Curlin warns, “When the goal of HPM shifts from helping patients who are dying to helping patients die, practices that render patients unconscious or hasten their death no longer seem to be last-resort options [emphasis added].” 
We question whether the need for pain relief is best met by promoting HPM. We urge legislators to investigate and expose dangerous drug overdoses, starvation and dehydration, and other patient abuses that occur in HPM. Considering legislation that promotes HPM without first doing so is putting the cart before the horse.
Furthermore, it is no secret that hospice fraud is rampant. People who could live for years more are being pushed into hospice and palliative care programs, thereby lining the pockets of providers. When patients are deliberately killed in hospice and palliative care settings, these murders are covered up easily by deceitfully claiming a pure intention to ease pain and suffering. Why pour more taxpayers’ funds into this healthcare boondoggle when many (albeit not all) HPM providers are stealing from us and killing us while pretending to care?
If H.R. 647 becomes law, more people will be railroaded into being “helped to die”: people who are not otherwise near death—people YOU care about.
HPM education funded by the government is unlikely to be life-affirming.
The educational programs financed by government grants would likely be designed and taught by HPM leaders in league with Compassion and Choices and the Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC)—organizations that advocate for euthanasia and assisted suicide. Consider who these “educators” might be.
Dr. Timothy E. Quill, president of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), is a board member of the DDNC. In 1991, the New England Journal of Medicine published Quill’s article about providing a lethal dose of drugs (illegally) to his patient Diane.  In 1997, he was the respondent in the U.S. Supreme Court case Vacco v. Quill, which challenged the ban on assisted suicide in New York. He argued that there is no difference between refusing lifesaving medical treatment and assisted suicide. In 2013, he was celebrated by his peers as one of several “Hospice and Palliative Medicine Visionaries,” which indicates that his frightful views are representative of many who practice HPM.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) is the largest organization representing HPM programs and professionals in the United States. Moreover, reports Dr. Ralph A. Capone,
The NHPCO is the actual legal and corporate successor to the Euthanasia Society of America. The Euthanasia Society of America was successively known as the Society for the Right to Die, Choice in Dying, Partnership for Caring, and Last Acts Partnership before finally being absorbed into the NHPCO. This explains the contradiction between the publicly stated hospice mission and the reality in too many clinical settings. It appears that the NHPCO is intent on quietly subverting that life-affirming mission.
When leaders in HPM are comfortable with deliberately ending patients’ lives, is hospice and palliative care safe for patients? These leaders must not be federally financed to educate others in the art of killing.
There is a real danger this Act will legalize euthanasia throughout the United States.
U.S. euthanasia advocates promote "medical aid in dying" (a euphemism for euthanasia and assisted suicide) as "palliative care."  Therefore, any federal legislation regarding HPM must define palliative care as excluding medical aid in dying. Also, a new “End of Life Options” bill in Delaware makes a legislative finding that “medical aid in dying” is “palliative care.” 
Attorney Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, warns, “If this language becomes generally accepted, a proposed ‘Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act,’ which seeks to establish federal palliative care centers, will include medical aid in dying as palliative care. The Act will legalize euthanasia as traditionally defined in federal centers throughout the nation.” The Healthcare Advocacy and Leadership Organization concurs and finds this to be a compelling argument for opposing H.R. 647.
Call to Action!
Please register your strong objections to this bill ASAP by contacting the members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over H.R. 647. You may send a message to the Committee and/or to individual members. Their names and contact information can be found at: https://energycommerce.house.gov/about-ec/membership.
Also contact the Republican Members of the House who co-sponsored the PCHETA bill last Congress, especially if they represent you, and urge them not to sponsor H.R. 647. These House members are:
Rep. Schweikert, David [R-AZ-6]; Rep. Young, Don [R-AK-At Large]; Rep. Cook, Paul [R-CA-8]; Rep. LaMalfa, Doug [R-CA-1]; Rep. Lamborn, Doug [R-CO-5]; Rep. Tipton, Scott [R-CO-3]; Rep. Mast, Brian [R-FL-18]; Rep. Posey, Bill [R-FL-8]; Rep. Rutherford, John [R-FL-4]; Rep. Allen, Rick [R-GA-12]; Rep. Collins, Doug [R-GA-9]; Rep. Ferguson, Drew [R-GA-3]; Rep. Hice, Jody B. [R-GA-10]; Rep. Scott, Austin [R-GA-8]; Rep. Simpson, Michael [R-ID-2]; Rep. Bost, Mike [R-IL-12]; Rep. Davis, Rodney [R-IL-13]; Rep. LaHood, Darin [R-IL-18]; Rep. Marshall, Roger W. [R-KS-1]; Rep. Barr, Andy [R-KY-6]; Rep. Comer, James [R-KY-1]; Rep. Rogers, Harold [R-KY-5]; Rep. Emmer, Tom [R-MN-6]; Rep. Kelly, Trent [R-MS-1]; Rep. Palazzo, Steven M. [R-MS-4]; Rep. Smith, Jason [R-MO-8]; Rep. Bacon, Don [R-NE-2]; Rep. Fortenberry, Jeff [R-NE-1]; Rep. Amodei, Mark E. [R-NV-2]; Rep. Smith, Christopher H. [R-NJ-4]; Rep. Katko, John [R-NY-24]; Rep. King, Peter T. [R-NY-2]; Rep. Reed, Tom [R - NY- 23]; Rep. Stefanik, Elise M. [R-NY-21]; Rep. Zeldin, Lee M. [R-NY-1]; Rep. Rouzer, David [R-NC-7]; Rep. Chabot, Steve [R-OH-1]; Rep. Gibbs, Bob [R-OH-7]; Rep. Joyce, David P. [R-OH-14]; Rep. Stivers, Steve [R-OH-15]; Rep. Turner, Michael [R-OH-10]; Rep. Fitzpatrick, Brian [R-PA-8]; Rep. Smucker, Lloyd [R-PA-16]; Rep. Thompson, Glenn [R-PA-15]; Rep. Wilson, Joe [R-SC-2]; Rep. Kustoff, David [R-TN-8]; Rep. Roe, Phil [R-TN-1]; Rep. Conaway, Michael [R-TX-11]; Rep. Marchant, Kenny [R-TX-24]; Rep. McCaul, Michael [R-TX-10]; Rep. Thornberry, Mac [R-TX-13]; Rep. Stewart, Chris [R-UT-2]; Rep. Wittman, Robert J. [R-VA-1]; Rep. Herrera Beutler, Jaime [R-WA-3]; Rep. Newhouse, Dan [R-WA-4]; Rep. Mooney, Alexander [R-WV-2]; Rep. Gallagher, Mike [R-WI-8]; Rep. Sensenbrenner, J. [R-WI-5.
Monitor the current bill here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/647?r=42&s=1
For more information: http://www.choiceillusionendtheabuse.org/
“Euthanasia” is traditionally defined as an action (e.g., administration of a lethal agent) or an omission (e.g., denial of food and fluids and/or usual medications or care) that causes another person’s death.
“Assisted suicide” means that a person provides the means or information for another person to commit suicide.
1. Farr A. Curlin, MD, “Hospice and Palliative Medicine’s Attempt at an Art of Dying,” in Dying in the Twenty-First Century: Toward a New Ethical Framework for the Art of Dying Well, ed. Lydia Dugdale, MD (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2015), 48, https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/dying-twenty-first-century
2. Ibid., 58.
3. Timothy E. Quill, MD, “Death and Dignity – A Case of Individualized Decision Making,” New England Journal of Medicine 324 (March 7, 1991): 691‒694,https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199103073241010.
4. Ralph Capone, MD, FACP, et al., “The Rise of Stealth Euthanasia: Imposed Death Disguised as Pain Relief,” Ethics & Medics 38, no. 6 (June 2013), https://www.hospicepatients.org/capone-stevens-grimstad-panzer-ncbc-em-june2013-the-rise-of-stealth-euthanasia.pdf.
Hospice Patients Alliance, “From Euthanasia Society of Amer ica to National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (1938–Present),” http://www.hospicepatients.org/euthanasia-soc-of-america-to-natl-hosp-and-palliative-care-org.pdf.
5. For examples, see https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/aid-palliative.pdf.
6. The Delaware End of Life Options bill (draft date January 4, 2019; seehttps://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/2019-end-of-life-options-act-no-number-yet.pdf) states, “WHEREAS, the integration of medical aid in dying into the standard for end-of-life care has improved quality of services by providing an additional palliative care option to terminally ill individuals [emphasis added].”