The letter “Aid-in-dying empowers patients to make decision,” April 11, argues the availability of assisted suicide is empowering; however, assisted suicide devalues the lives of individuals with disabilities and diminishes patient choice by creating perverse incentives for insurance companies to offer a cheap death over costly treatment.
The author claimed data from Oregon show the practice is safe. The top reasons people request assisted suicide are existential or disability-related concerns, not pain and suffering. These top reasons include being less able to engage in enjoyable activities, loss of autonomy, loss of dignity, being a burden on family/friends, and losing control of bodily functions. These are all serious concerns that ought to be addressed by improving access to multidisciplinary care, not assisted suicide.
The author also argues that the so-called safeguards in New York’s assisted suicide bill will prevent abuse and coercion, but there is nothing in place that will protect the most vulnerable in society. In fact, last fall, the National Council on Disability published a study that detailed the dangers of assisted suicide laws to people with disabilities. The study found that safeguards in these laws are ineffective and often fail to protect patients.
Assisted suicide is a dangerous public policy that is impossible to regulate. It unfairly targets those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, elderly and living with disabilities who are already marginalized and discriminated against in our health care system. New Yorkers deserve better than assisted suicide.
Community Relations Advocate, Patients Rights Action Fund
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