As readers of our blog already know, the New Jersey State Assembly recently passed an assisted suicide bill. The bill is now in the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee, where it will be debated at 1 pm on Monday, December 8.
Disability Rights groups, who are not being allowed to testify in the hearing, are asking people to flood the committee with short emails of opposition to this bill, S. 382. The email address is [email protected].
Obviously, people with disability, elders who fear abuse, and people from New Jersey will be most important in this effort. We all have a stake in the outcome, however, so we urge everyone to write. It is OK if you come from another state.
Please keep the letters short (a page or less) and to the point, perhaps focusing on only one aspect of this issue, that will most affect you or someone you care about.
While we deeply respect the views of all who think assisted suicide is wrong for religious reasons, we need to understand that the proponents of this have found a very effective tool in claiming that it is purely a religious issue and that religious people want to impose their views on everyone. We need to be practical and deny them this weapon. We ask, therefore, that you give concrete practical reasons why you think this bill is dangerous and would result in some people dying prematurely against their completely free will. Ask yourself if your reasons would be understood by someone with no religious beliefs at all.
Some good points to make are :
1 Assisted suicide devalues the lives of people with disabilities. Only dying people can get the drugs, and everyone who is dying becomes disabled at some point. People with disabilities already have to fight for needed services and report being pressured to decline treatment they want. Many would be terminally ill without care. They will surely feel pressure to commit suicide if assisted suicide is legal.
2. Assisted suicide provides a new vehicle for elder abuse, which is already rampant. Once a patient gets the prescription, he might as well have advertised that anyone can kill him with impunity. Someone else can pick up the prescription. The laws do not require witnesses at the time of ingestion, so a greedy heir or exasperated caregiver can give it to the patient without his even knowing what he is taking.
3. Assisted suicide is much cheaper than treatment or care. Legal assisted suicide will result in people’s getting insurance denials for care, while assisted suicide is offered as a covered alternative.
4. People will die years earlier than they would have. A woman who asked her Oregon doctor for assisted suicide but was lucky enough to have a doctor who talked her into accepting treatment is alive and happy and fighting assisted suicide 14 years later.
5. People with suicidal ideation caused by treatable depression will be given assisted suicide prescriptions instead. It is completely up to the doctor whether to request a psychiatric evaluation before prescribing lethal drugs.
6. Families will be stunned and traumatized by learning that a loved one has committed suicide without telling them. This has happened in European countries where this is legal.
You can probably think of more reasons to oppose assisted suicide. The important thing is that the emails be short, to the point, give practical reasons, and be sent in numbers. Again the address is [email protected].
Please do this. No one else can do it for you. Get your friends to write too. Please, for all our sakes. Remember, the proponents are empowered by every state victory they get, and we opponents are empowered by every state battle we win. Let’s win this one.