Using the Huffington Post , NPR, and their own websites, the proponents of expanding the legalization of assisted suicide beyond Oregon and Washington, the only two states where it is now legal, are falling back on a tactic they have used before, obscuring the real dangers of legal assisted suicide with talk of who is and is not for it.
True Dignity wants to make its own position clear. We represent all people opposed to assisted suicide, especially here in our state of Vermont but also anywhere in the world where people are fighting this battle. We hope to persuade everyone that legalizing assisted suicide is dangerous and to empower all people to fight against legalization.
We find it ironic that the well-organized and well-funded national and international lobbyists for assisted suicide accuse other groups of being powerful lobbies when that is what they are themselves. One national group made a public appeal on its website this year for funds it promised to devote entirely to making assisted suicide legal in Vermont. The Vermont organization promoting legalization here had already admitted receiving $100,000 from out of state groups by the time the Vermont legalization bill was introduced in February.
True Dignity welcomes the input of anyone and any group speaking with reason and civility about the dangers of assisted suicide. We wonder why the other side does not welcome all voices in the debate. Is it because it cannot counter the reasoned points we who oppose legalized assisted suicide make again and again? Could we debate these points rather than waste time on irrelevancies, please? Can we get back on topic?
All who oppose legalization of assisted suicide make the followingpoints, based on reason and experience. Legalized assisted suicide is dangerous, and we oppose it, for the following reasons and more:
1.It attacks the dignity and threatens the lives of people with disabilities who rely on the help of others to live.
2. It is a recipe for elder abuse. Current and proposed laws contain no protections at all for patients once they fill their lethal prescriptions, requiring no witnesses at the time the drugs are taken. There is nothing to prevent a person’s being pressured or even physically forced to take them. Without witnesses, even if the person struggled, who would know?
3.It presents suicide as a way to solve problems. No one commits suicide unless he or she has problems. If the problem of dying is solved by socially sanctioned suicide, other people with problems will see suicide as the solution and act accordingly, as they are now doing in Oregon, where suicide rates have been rising since 2000.
4.It is frighteningly cheap compared to palliative or hospice care. In Oregon, people have been denied life prolonging medication and steered to assisted suicide. In VT at least one letter to the editor and one editorial have mentioned assisted suicide as a solution to the problem of rising medical costs. One of the leading public proponents of assisted suicide formerly worked in managed care.
5. It has been and will be offered instead of treatment to people with depression, who typically experience treatable suicidal ideation. The pro-assisted suicide lobby successfully fought a bill in Oregon this year that would have required counseling referrals for all people requesting assisted suicide. Why? What is threatening about counseling, which would seem to protect a patient’s choice ?
6. It is destructive of true choice because it is inherently pressuring. Even if the laws were changed to require witnesses at death and even if the cost factor could be eliminated, what dying person would not feel pressure to relieve relatives, caretakers, or the state of the burden of his care?