Here’s a link to an excellent article: http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca/2013/10/euthanasia-putting-elderly-at-risk.html. Though written in opposition to the proposed euthanasia law in Quebec, the points it makes are just as valid for assisted suicide.
The elderly and the very sick require a lot of care, sometimes trying caregivers to the point of exhaustion and exasperation. Making care-giving easier by over-medicating the elderly is a phenomenon well-known to anyone who has visited a loved one in a nursing home. Elderly people are often drowsy and confused, and it is difficult to know whether this is part of the natural process of aging and dying or the result of over-medication. If the temptation to over-medicate is so widespread, can anyone believe the presence of assisted suicide drugs in a home or institutional setting will not present a temptation to caregivers?
In the three US states where assisted suicide is legal, the laws contain no controls on the use of the lethal dose of barbiturates once the prescription is obtained. A patient who might have been capable of understanding the consequences of taking it at the time he obtained it may not be six months later. He may not even be capable of taking it. Absolutely nothing would prevent a greedy relative or an exhausted and angry caregiver from administering it to him, and that person’s crime would never even be investigated, since the person would be expected to die by suicide anyway.
Even long before this, when the “capable” patient is making the decision to seek assistance in committing suicide, family and society will have sent signals that his life is not worth living. People do not live in isolation, and what we perceive about ourselves is always mediated by what our families and others, especially trusted others like doctors, say and how they behave towards us; and their words and behaviors are also affected by what our society believes and does about end of life issues. For a society to declare that suicide and euthanasia are ever rational solutions to any problems changes our whole culture, making it inevitable that people will die prematurely and against their free will.
A society committed to taking care of its sick and elderly, rather than getting them out of the way, is the best way to ensure safety for all of us. Let’s hope the Quebec parliament defeats its euthanasia bill, and let’s hope Vermonters see to it that our assisted suicide law is repealed before anyone uses it, because no one, no one can use it freely.
It’s my body. It’s my choice. If I am determined to commit suicide, let me do it myself. Once anyone at all “helps” me, no one else’s body and no one else’s choice is truly, safely his.