Dangers of assisted suicide bill too many to overlook

Times of Trenton Letters to the Editor

Source: NJ.com

George Amick's column "Bill would allow terminally ill patients to die in humane, dignified manner" (June 9) ignores the many dangers of legalized assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide makes for a deadly mix with our profit-driven healthcare system. With a lethal prescription costing a mere few hundred dollars, assisted suicide will immediately become the cheapest "treatment. " For example, Oregon Medicaid refused to cover prescribed chemotherapy for Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup, while offering the cheaper assisted suicide. Such distorted medical decision-making is one reason disability rights groups across the country oppose assisted suicide. Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire listened to our objections and rejected bills this year.

Assisted suicide endangers people who experience depression. Oregonian Michael Freeland easily received a prescription despite a 43-year history of severe depression and suicide attempts. Freeland's prescribing doctor later said that he didn't think a psychological consultation was "necessary."

If Assemblyman Burzichelli is open to adjustments, he should look to Connecticut, where the legislature listened to disability rights advocates and rejected assisted suicide, then got to work with advocates to craft a pilot program for medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST). This program, which will protect everyone's right both to receive and decline medical treatment, passed the Connecticut House unanimously and is now state law.

-- John Kelly

Boston

The writer grew up in Middletown Township and is now New England regional director for the national disability rights group Not Dead Yet.