Thursday, December 7, 2023

Letter to New York Legislators opposing assisted suicide Bill S.2445.

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition-USA Statement in STRONG OPPOSITION to S.2445: Assisted Suicide–also known as “Medical Aid in Dying” 

Dear Senator:

Please let S.2445 die this session. Assisted suicide laws disguised as legally contrived, confusing, and euphemistic term, "medical aid in dying" is not healthcare. Assisted suicide proponents are trying to sell you a "pig in a poke." It's not about pain or a quick, peaceful death. It spawns more suicides and provides less healthcare. EPC-USA's physicians and disability advocates express strong opposition to assisted suicide.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition USA supports public policy that promotes positive measures to improve the quality of life of people living with a terminal illness and their families; we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide. We are aging and disability advocates, lawyers, doctors, nurses and politicians.

Any safeguards are part of a deliberate bait and switch tactic by assisted suicide advocates to get a bill passed and then come back to amend it by gutting those safeguards. This was openly acknowledged by J.M. Sorrell, Executive Director of Massachusetts Death with Dignity, who was quoted on a similar bill saying, “Once you get something passed, you can always work on amendments later.” (Link) Oregon, Washington, California, Vermont, Hawaii, and New Mexico all have provisions that dramatically waive safeguards. 

This incremental strategy to promote legal and social acceptance of assisted suicide in the U.S. state by state since 1997 is confirmed by the Compassion & Choices (Link) strategic plan. 

It’s Not about Pain  

“I’m often asked if I want people to die in pain. You probably have been asked that question, too.” Dr. Lonny Shavelson, a California assisted suicide provider says promoting “aid in dying” as avoiding pain is a political sales pitch. See webinar minutes 25:24-27:53. He says people choose assisted suicide because they are low energy or afraid of losing control.  A Review of Oregon’s assisted dying law finds significant data gaps (Link). The review revealed that information on clinical complications is often missing, while key information on the factors behind medical decision-making, the effectiveness of the lethal drugs used, and the extent of palliative care support is not collected.

It’s Not about a Peaceful or Quick Death 

Dr. Shavelson says the idea that assisted suicide creates a peaceful beautiful death is another myth. See webinar minutes 37:35-41:00. 

No amount of bill language can change the fact that some people will suffer prolonged and agonizing deaths from the experimental lethal drug cocktails, with some regaining consciousness only to die of their terminal illness. Medical science cannot guarantee the peaceful death proponents claim. If lethal injections administered for capital punishment have resulted in inhumane deaths, oral ingestion of lethal drug compounds is far more likely to do so.

Assisted Suicide Spawns More Suicides and Attempted Suicides.

Assisted suicide laws send a message that suicide is an acceptable way to solve problems. Publicity about suicide also leads to more suicides. This is called suicide contagion. A special concern with NY High School students, as discussed in an article on Centers for Latina Girls.

Legalization of Assisted Suicide also impacts youths suicide. A 2019 report found teen suicides in California increased by 34% (Link) since that state legalized Assisted Suicide in 2016. Oregon’s youth suicides increased 79.3% from 2000 to 2018. Research about completed suicides in four states that legalized Assisted Suicide (Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana) found it was associated at least a 6.3% increase in the rate of all suicide deaths (Link).

Insurance Companies Use Assisted Suicide to Deny Curative Life-Saving Treatment

Insurers stop covering certain treatments due to the availability of Assisted Suicide. Dr. Brian Callister (Link) of Nevada says he was stunned when insurance would not cover life saving treatment for his patients who were transferring to California and Oregon, but offered to pay for Assisted Suicide instead. These were people who could be cured with the denied treatment (Link) rather than being rendered terminal. (Link) In effect, Assisted Suicide is used to shunt people off the curative, restorative medicine track, especially if they cannot afford to pay for treatments out of pocket.  

People of color understand this will be used to provide them poorer care. 

Even with insurance, people of color get poorer hospital care and pain relief. According to a New York Times (Link) article, people of color disproportionately died of COVID-19. So, it is unsurprising Black and Latinx people oppose Assisted Suicide by 2-1 margins. (Link) ... the voting results from Ballot Question 2 in 2012 show Assisted Suicide pits wealthier, whiter districts against those with poorer people of color according to Second Thoughts - Massachusetts.

EPC-USA's physicians remind us that Assisted Suicide laws exacerabate systematic inequalities that disabled people experience with respect to suicide prevention. A "Federal study found that the nation's assisted suicide laws are rife with dangers to people with disabilities" (Link)

EPC-USA’s physicians remind us that Physicians are fallible. Misdiagnoses and unreliable terminal prognoses are documented in at least three cases: Jeanette hall (Link), John Norton, (Link) and Rahamim Melamed an Rahamim Mlamed-Cohen (Link).

In 2023, American Association of Suicidology (AAS) national organizations recognized their mistake and retracted their support for assisted suicide and its legally constructed term“MAiD”:
In 2017, the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) published their statement that “MAiD” was not suicide. In 2023, the AAS retracted their 2017 statement because their 2017 statement was used by assisted suicide advocates in the 2019 Truchon decision that expanded assisted suicide to disabled Canadians. The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention opposes the expansion of MAiD legislation to include mental illness.

EPC-USA’s Disability Rights Advocates remind us Assisted Suicide for the terminally ill very clearly normalizes discussions about whether it might be ok to help disabled people die by suicide. Without realizing it we can be blind to the reality that supporting Assisted Suicide individually and corporately is an example of ableism and perpetuates systemic racism for the poor, disabled, lonely, vulnerable and marginalized young and elderly individuals.

Highly educated advocates for assisted suicide laws like Christopher Riddler and Udo Schuklenk are known for their assisted suicide advocacy in New York and Canada while misrepresenting themselves as a "disability rights advocates" Their philosophy blinds NY legislators in the reality of their ableist philosophy. 

No change in language alters the fact that offering suicide prevention to most people while offering suicide assistance (legally constructed as “medical aid in dying”) to an ever-widening subset of disabled people undermines disability rights and perpetuates lethal disability discrimination. Passing an assisted suicide law in New York is unwise and unjust.

 As the cheapest state-sponsored “treatment,” assisted suicide diminishes patient choice and takes away patient autonomy of the most vulnerable. Assisted suicide combined with a broken health care and home care system is a deadly mix for people who are economically poor, lonely, vulnerable, elderly, disabled, and historically marginalized in the US healthcare system. 

Advocates of assisted suicide assert that there has never been one case of abuse related to laws legalizing assisted suicide under the legally constructed and euphemistic term "medical aid in dying." Setting aside the inherent flaw of making such a broad assertion, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) has catalogued a long list of abuse cases (Link).

We urge you to oppose policies that provide legal immunity to assisted suicide providers and allow them to use their medical license to legally harm / kill patients who are not yet at death's door by prescribing them lethal drugs.

We urge you to allow S.2445 to die this session - a harmful, dangerous and deadly assisted suicide law.


Colleen E. Barry, Chairperson 347-245-9476

Josephine L.A. Glaser, MD.,FAAFP

Kenneth Stevens, MD

William Toffler, MD

Gordon Friesen

Alex Schadenberg

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition USA

1 comment:

Carol V said...

Thank you for sending this very informative letter to NY Senators.