Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ann Freedman: California's Assisted Suicide Bill Has No Safeguards for Elder Abuse or For Those Who Change Their Minds

On the surface, if you only consider the wishes of a single individual, assisted suicide legislation might seem reasonable, and the media flurry surrounding the case of Brittany Maynard has made it seem that way.

But it is important to look at the significant dangers of legalizing assisted suicide as public policy for all Californians, particularly those who might not have a strong support system; access to health care, palliative care and hospice; or the benefit of a loving, caring family. Assisted suicide legislation has many unintended consequences that can impact the vast majority of us.

As a former hospital social worker for many years, my primary concern is for individuals who might feel pressured into ending their lives. Elder abuse in the United States is rampant, and the vast majority of the perpetrators are family members. I have worked with wonderful, supportive family members, but not all that I have worked with were like this. Some were abusive and stole money from their disabled and elderly relatives.

Nothing in the proposed assisted suicide law protects patients when family pressures, whether financial or emotional, distort the ill person’s choice. And nothing prevents an heir, who stands to benefit from the patient’s death, from helping the patient sign up for the lethal dose.

No assisted suicide “safeguard” can ever protect against coercion. In this era of managed care, will those living with a disability and the seriously ill be more likely offered lethal prescriptions in place of medical treatment? A prescription for 100 Seconal tablets costs far less than most medical treatments, especially considering the cost of long-term care for someone living with a disability.
This scenario has already become a reality in Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal.

The oncologist for cancer patient Barbara Wagner prescribed a specific chemotherapy to extend her life, which was her choice. Her insurance provider, Oregon’s state-run health plan, denied coverage of the treatment but offered, in writing, to pay for her assisted suicide. The same thing happened to Randy Stroup, also of Oregon. When assisted suicide is legal, it becomes just another treatment option.

Full Article and Source:
California's Bill Has No Safeguards for Elder Abuse for Those Who Change Their Minds

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StandUp said...

This is a good article of common sense.

Anonymous said...

It's either assisted suicide or murder and who is to know which?

Brenda said...

This is what's scary about assisted suicide. It will be easily exploited.

Finny said...

This is a recipe for "how to get away with the perfect murder"