Sunday, November 30, 2014

Assisted suicide is about disability-phobia, not "choice" or "dignity."

This letter was published in the Norwich Bulletin (Connecticut) on November 16, 2014
Regarding your Nov. 6 editorial, "Terminally ill deserve a choice," safeguards in legislation are hollow and cannot be fixed. The Public Health Committee rejected two bills similar to Oregon's "Death With Dignity Act" allowing an heir and the heir's close friend to testify about the dispensing of the prescription and no witnesses at the death — a prescription for elder abuse. 
Other problems include misdiagnosis and incorrect prognosis, the deadly mix with a broken cost-cutting health care system where suicide becomes the cheapest "treatment," falsification of death certificates, suicide contagion and disability discrimination in suicide prevention. Every progressive national disability-rights organization that has taken a position strongly opposes the legalization of assisted suicide. 
Voters are also rejecting assisted suicide legislation and candidates who support it. State Rep. Betsy Ritter, the lead supporter of assisted suicide in the Legislature, lost her state Senate bid by a significant margin. Lead proponents were defeated in Vermont and New Hampshire. Two years ago, Massachusetts voters had second thoughts, rejecting a ballot measure to legalize assisted suicide. 
Assisted suicide is about disability-phobia, not "choice" or "dignity." Real choice means improved palliative care, hospice and home care so no one is driven toward suicide. 
Stephen Mendelsohn
New Britain
Stephen Mendelsohn is a member of the disability rights group - Second Thoughts Connecticut.

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