WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- As seven more states prepare to discuss legalizing assisted suicide, critics slammed the law as “ableist.”
- Some health practitioners and people with terminal illnesses regard medical aid-in-dying as a viable option for dying with dignity.
- People with disabilities, however, slam the law for suggesting that the infirm are “better off dead.”
People with disabilities are expressing concerns as more states consider legalizing assisted suicide or medical aid-in-dying (MAiD).
The MAiD system allows terminally ill adults with less than six months to live to ask physicians for a lethal dose of drugs, which they can take at home.
Washington DC and 10 other states currently allow MAiD. Some of these states are already loosening regulations by cutting wait times, allowing nurses to prescribe lethal drugs, and allowing out-of-state visitors to end their lives.
Now, seven more states — Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia — have proposed their own doctor-assisted suicide laws. Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, and Nevada may soon follow suit.
Critics slammed such laws as an “ableist” system that caters to the elite who believe those who lose autonomy and dignity are “better off dead.”
Christian theologian Greg Parker said that the trend is a “troubling development for human dignity” that indicates that “we no longer value human life in America.”
Patients Rights Action Fund director Matt Vallière argued, “Instead of expanding assisted suicide laws, we should look to improve end-of-life care for the terminally ill and create better access and care for persons with disabilities.”
Anita Cameron, who campaigns against such laws with the group Not Dead Yet, expressed concerns that this will “normalize” assisted death as a solution for the infirm, which could put pressure on the “poor or disabled” to prematurely end their lives.
Critics worry that America is following in the footsteps of Canada, which has the world’s most permissive MAiD system. In 2021, about 10,000 people were euthanized in the nation, whose lawmakers are also considering allowing children and the mentally ill to a doctor-sanctioned death.
While US rules are stricter than Canada’s, many people who were prescribed fatal doses did not meet the requirements, having reported other reasons such as feeling like a burden or being strapped for cash.
Last year, three patients with anorexia were prescribed lethal doses by Dr. Jennifer Gaudiani, who treats eating disorders. The doctor argued that the disease is brutally lethal for sufferers, but even pro-MAiD groups denounced her for giving such drugs to psychiatric patients.
Similar concerns were raised for people with diabetes.
The drugs themselves were seen as problematic. The previous method involved crushing 90 sleeping pills, but the current method involves the DDMA mix, which includes diazepam and morphine sulfate.
Unlike in Canada, US patients don’t always take the drug in the presence of a doctor. Some people who took the drugs died in less than an hour, but others took hours and even days.
Last year, the British Medical Bulletin reported that the method is not always a “peaceful and painless death.” It cited a cancer patient who suffered about nine hours of “choking and coughing” before dying.
Still, the policy received increasing public support according to polls from Gallup and the Daily Mail.
Some health professionals and terminally ill patients highly regard assisted suicide as a readily available option for “peace of mind” and a “sense of control over a very uncontrollable illness.” They said that they “will not have to suffer needlessly.”
Source: Daily Mail