New York Bill Would Make It the Next State to Legalize Assisted Suicide

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 10, 2017   |   12:31PM   |   Albany, NY

Euthanasia advocates are pushing a bill to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in New York state again this year.

Previous efforts to legalize the life-destroying procedure have failed in the state legislature, but euthanasia advocates are persistent.

The AP reports assisted suicide supporters plan to meet with state lawmakers Tuesday to lobby for the bill, which they say will give terminally ill people the option to end their lives whenever they choose.

The bill would allow adults diagnosed with terminal illnesses to request a lethal drug prescription from their doctor to use to commit suicide. Two doctors would have to certify that the patient is terminally ill before the suicide drugs could be prescribed, according to the report.

However, the legislation is a dangerous recipe for abuse. Medical groups, disability rights advocates and others are opposing assisted suicide bills across the country, arguing that the elderly and people with special needs will be under pressure to end their lives rather than seek treatment.

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According to National Right to Life Committee, problems with the legislation include:

· There is no protection for those seeking assisted suicide because they suffer from treatable depression or any other mental health issue

· Predictions that someone will die in six months are often wrong;

· Abuse of elders and people with disabilities is a growing but often undetected problem

· If assisted suicide is legalized, it will quickly become the cheapest alternative to medical treatment.

The legislation also does not require any medical professional or other authority to be present when the person takes the suicide drugs. Therefore, there is no way of knowing if the person is being forced to take them, and no doctor is there if complications arise.

In 2015, attorney Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, explained her concerns about a New York assisted suicide bill to a group of state lawyers.

Dore, an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal, explained: “In my law practice, I started out working in guardianships, wills and probate, and saw abuse of all kinds, especially where there was money involved (where there’s a will, there are heirs). Then, in 2008, I got dragged to a meeting about our assisted suicide law and saw the perfect crime: your heir could help sign you up, and once the lethal dose was in the house, there was no oversight. Not even a witness is required. If you resisted or even struggled, who would know?” She added, “The New York bills have the same problem.”

“If enacted, the New York bills will allow assisted suicide (or euthanasia) without consent,” Dore said. “And in case I’m being too subtle, the drugs used are water and alcohol soluble, such that they can be injected into a restrained or sleeping person. After the person dies, the death certificate is REQUIRED to reflect a natural death. It’s the perfect crime.”

Financial issues also come into play. In states where doctor-prescribed suicide is legal, sick people are being denied medical treatment coverage and offered the cheaper option of assisted suicide instead.

Most recently, Stephanie Packer, a California wife and mother of four who was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer, said her insurance company refused to cover the cost of her medical treatment. When Packer asked her insurance company if it would cover doctor-prescribed suicide, the company told her, “Yes, we do provide that to our patients, and you would only have to pay $1.20 for the medication.”

Patients in Oregon reported similar experiences.

The New York bill is modeled after assisted suicide legislation in Washington state and Oregon. Doctor-prescribed suicide also is legal in California, Vermont, Colorado and Washington, D.C.