Saturday, March 3, 2012

Disability Community News Flash on "Death with Dignity"

Stop Assisted Suicide in MA We Need Real Choices, Not Medical Killing

News Flash - Hearing on "Death with Dignity" . . .

Attend the hearing at the State House next Tuesday, and oppose H.3884.

What: Hearing of the Joint Judiciary Committee on H. 3884 - an act to allow "Death with Dignity
" in MA.

When: Tuesday, March 6 at 1 p.m.
Where: State House, Room A-2
Why: This bill is dangerous for people with disabilities, elders and people with serious illness.
Contact: Second Thoughts and John Kelly at (617) 536-5140

Second Thoughts is a group of Disability Rights Organizations and Activists who oppose this "Death with Dignity" ballot initiative. Here are some of the compelling reasons why this bill is dangerous.

Deadly Mix:
Assisted suicide is a deadly mix with a profit-driven health care system.

Self-determination: Assisted suicide is unnecessary to have control because each person has the right to refuse lifesaving
treatment, and to have adequate pain relief, including palliative sedation. Assisted suicide decreases self-determination by giving doctors and insurers the power not just to cure, but to kill.

The proposed law is a recipe for elder abuse. An heir can be a witness and help sign someone up, and once a lethal drug is in the home, no one will know how the drug is administered. If the person struggled, who would know?

No Safeguards: A lack of safeguards and oversight in the proposed law puts people at risk of misdiagnosis, deprivation of treatment and economic pressure to choose suicide, while protecting doctors from liability.
    • If a doctor refuses lethal drugs, the patient or family simply can--and do--find another doctor ("doctor shopping"). 
    • "Terminal condition" and "death within six months" are often misdiagnosed, opening the dangers of assisted suicide to many who are not terminally ill.
    •  The law does not require that people are screened or treated for depression or other mental health conditions that cause suicidal feelings.
    •  The law does not include enforcement provisions, investigation authority, oversight or data verification. The only foolproof safeguard is for the prescribing doctors. The law holds doctors to only a "good faith" standard, which makes any safeguards unenforceable.
Discrimination: A law that singles out some people (such as old, ill and disabled people) for assisted suicide instead of suicide prevention is no in step with Massachusetts' progressive tradition as a leader against discrimination.