Tuesday, October 16, 2018

NDY & ADAPT Submit Public Comments To Virginia Commission Opposing Potential Assisted Suicide Legislation

The Virginia Joint Commission on Health Care has requested public comments by close of business on October 15 concerning several policy issues, including one option that would recommend the introduction of assisted suicide legislation. It’s called Policy Option 2, worded as follows:

Introduce legislation to amend the Code of Virginia to include a Medical Aid-in-Dying statute that mirrors California’s EOLOA statute, with the following additions: a. when informing patient of alternative to MAID, attending physician must include information about any possible treatments for the underlying disease, b. attending physician must attest that patient enrolled in hospice or was informed of EOL services, c. if patient is in nursing facility, one witness may be person designated by facility, d. adopt rules to facilitate collection of information regarding compliance, e. provide an online guidebook and establish training opportunities for medical community to learn about the MAID process and medications that may be used (NOTE: Language will be provided to members and placed on the JCHC website 5 business days prior to the November Decision Matrix meeting).
O n October 11, NDY President Diane Coleman submitted a comment (to jchcpubliccomments@jchc.virginia.gov) which began:
Diane Coleman
I am submitting this comment as a person with an advanced neuromuscular condition who uses breathing support 18-19 hours a day. I have personal experience with misdiagnosis and the uncertainty of terminal predictions by doctors. I am also the founder and President of Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights group, with members in Virginia, that opposes legalization of assisted suicide because it is discriminatory and poses unacceptable dangers to elders and people with disabilities with or without terminal diagnoses.

This comment uses the term “assisted suicide” for several reasons. Merriam Webster defines suicide as “The act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally.” As the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs stated in its report on the issue this year, “The terms ‘aid in dying’ or ‘death with dignity’ could be used to describe euthanasia or palliative/hospice care at the end of life and this degree of ambiguity is unacceptable for providing ethical guidance.”[i] Assisted suicide proponents understandably prefer to call it “aid in dying” because it polls better. They attempt to justify the name change by asserting that the person is already dying. While some may be dying, others are not. More importantly, with assisted suicide, the cause of death is not a disease, but a lethal overdose.

My Personal Story of Mistaken Prognosis . . .

To continue reading the NDY comment, go here.
On October 12, Bruce Darling submitted a comment on behalf of ADAPT which stated:
Bruce Darling
As an organization working to ensure disabled people’s right to build our lives in the community, legislation making it legal for physicians to help end our lives is deeply troubling to ADAPT. While the proponents of this legislation will tell you that it is not about disabled people, only people with terminal illness, let me assure you that every single person who qualifies under that definition is a disabled person. Not every person with a disability is terminally ill, but every person who is terminally ill is or will eventually become a person with a disability. There is no person with a terminal prognosis who does not also have, or acquire, an impairment which significantly affects their ability to perform a major life function (such as eating, sleeping, toileting, or walking).

Accordingly, physician assisted suicide is only provided to people with disabilities, by definition. This is discrimination. People with disabilities have fought hard for the right to live as equals, to live and receive services in the community, to have equal access to housing and transportation and employment opportunities. In an ableist society, these rights are continually denied to us. Yet this same society wishes to extend to us the “right” to end our lives. Equal rights, means equal access to suicide prevention, not the false “compassion” of suicide assistance.

… Assisted suicide is not about relieving the suffering of the dying: it is an expression of the most toxic and deadly form of ableism, which holds that life with a disability is not worth living. The lives of people with disabilities, whether terminal or non-terminal, do matter, and are worth living. (Emphasis added.)  
To continue reading the ADAPT comment, go here.
If you would like to submit your own comment by October 15 at close of business (even just saying that you oppose Option 2), and/or support NDY’s and ADAPT’s comments, please email jchcpubliccomments@jchc.virginia.gov.

[i] REPORT OF THE COUNCIL ON ETHICAL AND JUDICIAL AFFAIRS 5-A-18, Page 2, https://www.ama-assn.org/sites/default/files/media-browser/public/hod/a18-ceja5.pdf

No comments: