Thursday, February 15, 2024

Disability Leaders On New York’s Capital Urge Lawmakers To Reject Assisted Suicide

Alex Thompson (NY Assn. on Independent Living) and Max Rodriguez (Center for Disability Rights) had a ten minute interview with Capital Tonight’s Susan Arbetter. Detailing weaknesses of the purported “safeguards” in the state’s assisted suicide bill, they urged the legislature to reject it as too dangerous. Key concerns focused on insurance pressures to cut costs and the healthcare system’s failure to meet people’s needs for treatment, care and related supports. 

The Capital broadcast video and article are HERE and excerpts from the accompanying article are also copied below. 

Members of dis­ability rights community urge N.Y. lawmakers to reject Medical Aid in Dying Act.

By Susan Arbetter New York State PUBLISHED 7:30 PM ET Feb. 14, 2024

….[A]mong the 30% of voters who do not support the [assisted suicide] bill, there is one group that argues the bill’s safeguards are inadequate. 
Advocates for people living with disabilities are concerned about people being pressured into the procedure. 
“The biggest concern is, is this really a choice?” Alex Thompson, director of advocacy with the New York Association on Independent Living, told Capital Tonight.
“We’ve seen in Canada and other places where this is legalized, where instead of people being offered support to be in the community and still have a level of autonomy, they are offered assisted suicide.”
When asked if there are any additional safeguards that could be included in the bill that would make it more acceptable to the disability rights community, both Max Rodriguez, manager of government affairs with the Center for Disability Rights, and the New York Association on Independent Living’s Thompson said no.
“Really, there is nothing to add. To think there are final adequate safeguards is misleading,” Rodriguez said. 
“I don’t think that we’re really in a place where we can support this bill. There are just too many concerns around this related to the way our for-profit health care system works,” Thompson reiterated.
The Association on Independent Living’s opposition memo to the bill states that the disability community is deeply concerned about coercion and abuse.
“A.995/S.2445 does not prevent a coercive family member or caregiver from doctor shopping with the individual to find a physician who will provide the fatal drug. There is nothing in the proposed legislation which would prevent an abusive caregiver or family member from steering the individual toward physician assisted suicide, witnessing the request form, picking up the lethal dose, and even administering the drug,” the memo states. 

Rodriguez is also concerned about tracking the lethal medication once a prescription is filled by a pharmacy. A 2022 report from Oregon states that the “ingestion status” for over 100 patients was “unknown.”

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