Monday, February 24, 2020

Assisted Suicide laws are lethal discrimination against old, ill and disabled people

This article was published on February 24 in connection with a poll on assisted suicide. The rift published a YES and NO assisted suicide article (Link) and then asks you to vote.

Diane Coleman wrote the No to assisted suicide article that I have re-published below.

By Diane Coleman
President of Not Dead Yet

Assisted suicide may understandably be viewed as an easy way to die, but a closer look reveals inherent dangers that should lead to second thoughts.

First, assisted suicide is not needed to ensure that we can die peacefully in our sleep, since we can already do so by receiving palliative care, up to and including full sedation.

So what do assisted suicide laws actually do? They grant civil and criminal immunity to healthcare providers and caregivers who may be involved.

The image of government approved, medically administered assisted suicide is that it only hastens the death of someone who is already dying and voluntarily takes lethal drugs, with “safeguards” preventing abuse. 

Under U.S. laws, an heir or abusive caregiver may suggest assisted suicide, witness the written request, and even give the drug without consent.

In contrast, in U.S. jurisdictions where assisted suicide is legal, Oregon being the national “model”, no authority verifies patients were eligible or procedures were followed. A short form filed by the prescribing doctor is accepted at face value. It’s the “honor” system.

The U.S. laws require a 6-month prognosis, yet Oregon data shows that people far outlived their prognosis. Hospice data shows that 12-15% outlive their predicted expiration date. Oregon also defines someone as “terminal” who simply cannot afford treatment.

Some countries have expanded assisted suicide eligibility to include people with ordinary non-terminal disabilities and even psychological suffering with no physical illness.

So the image that all eligible people are dying soon anyway is not valid. But isn’t it still voluntary?

Unfortunately, under U.S. laws, an heir or abusive caregiver may suggest assisted suicide, witness the written request, and even give the drug without consent. No independent witness is required when the drugs are used, so who would know? Assisted suicide can also hide medical mistakes or malpractice.

Assisted suicide is being marketed as a new “civil right”

Finally, perhaps the greatest concern should be healthcare cost cutting pressures. As cofounder of the Hemlock Society Derek Humphry wrote, “…economics, not the quest for broadened individual liberties or increased autonomy, will drive assisted suicide to the plateau of acceptable practice.”

Assisted suicide is being marketed as a new “civil right,” but will we fall for it? Will we offer suicide prevention to most suicidal people, but carve out those who are old, ill and disabled? How long before a so-called option turns into an expectation, then a duty?

The real civil rights are nondiscrimination and equal protection of the laws. This is why every major national U.S. disability organization that has taken a position on assisted suicide laws opposes them.

4 comments:

Corrina Conlan said...

At CHILLIWACK hospital they euthanized my mother after her brain surgery. They cut the tube feed. Lies and said she couldn't swallow. No safe guards were followed. The Dr.Enns and Ryan Gant did what they wanted injecting lethal injections. The Ryan Gant asked me if I owned a house. They murdered my mother making her convulse in my hands. It was horrible!

Karen Dwyer said...

Corrina, I am beyond saddened, and so very sorry for this traumatic loss of your mother. My mother died several years ago, when euthenasia wasn't even on the statute books. She was bullied to fill out a living will by one particular doctor (which my mother would not do and was very vocal about wanting to live) and I was able to dissuade the doctor while I was with my Mum, but it was very clear that the doctor chose times when I wasn't with my Mum to exert pressure on her.

It is the tiniest of consolations, I realise, but I'm grateful that you are (1) able to articulate the truth and not pretend to a lie, and (2) able to know that you were with your mother and that she did not die alone, or with only those monstrous medical practitioners present (I am in no way suggesting that this absolves those doctors from an unjust murder of your mother).

Extending sincere compassion to you - 'horrible' is an understatement!!

Unknown said...

Thats terrible! I'm so very very sorry for your loss! That should never happen to anyone. Peoples lives are worth so much more than that.

Nancy said...

I repeat the quotes below because I understand elder abuse statistics are alarmingly high. So why are we not alarmed? And Corrina, repeats of your type of experience are simply not acceptable. "Under U.S. laws, an heir or abusive caregiver may suggest assisted suicide, witness the written request, and even give the drug without consent.

In contrast, in U.S. jurisdictions where assisted suicide is legal, Oregon being the national “model”, no authority verifies patients were eligible or procedures were followed. A short form filed by the prescribing doctor is accepted at face value. It’s the “honor” system.

The U.S. laws require a 6-month prognosis, yet Oregon data shows that people far outlived their prognosis. Hospice data shows that 12-15% outlive their predicted expiration date. Oregon also defines someone as “terminal” who simply cannot afford treatment."

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