Nine Reasons to Oppose Assisted Suicide: What Progressives Need to Know

by Joan Cavanagh, Second Thoughts CT member

In the February 2019 PAR newsletter, Lisa Blumberg, of Second Thoughts Connecticut, wrote: “Trump wants the Affordable Care Act to implode. Republicans seem willing to swell the ranks of the uninsured and to cut Medicaid funding. There are corporate imperatives to reduce health-care costs even if quality is diminished. Many people are unable to access basic care and minorities, the old and people with disabilities are often subject to medical prejudices or ‘quality of life’ misconceptions. Legalizing doctor-assisted suicide in these times would be akin to taking coals to Newcastle.”

A year later, nothing has changed, only gotten worse. Yet the Public Health Committee of the Connecticut State Legislature is once again poised to consider an “Aid in Dying” (“Assisted Suicide”) bill. The dangers of such legislation should become more and more obvious every day.

Assisted suicide is fraught with peril for the most vulnerable among us–the elderly, disabled and poor, who are already viewed by the medical system and the insurance companies as too costly to treat and thus expendable. There are no imaginable “safeguards” that can change that fact. This legislation would only codify what we have experienced and had to fight in our daily lives—and which has already cost the lives of far too many.

Below are Nine Reasons to Oppose Assisted Suicide.

  1. In our cost-cutting health care system, it encourages the rationing of health care for the most “expensive” patients: the elderly, disabled, seriously ill and poor.
    2. It subjects the vulnerable to potential overt or covert abuse that can never be adequately monitored.
    3. It encourages a rush to judgment as to how “terminal illness” is defined.
    4. It promotes the idea of extreme individualism and self-sufficiency, the notion that being vulnerable and needing care is somehow “undignified,” the idea that we live in a vacuum with no responsibility for or to each other.
    5. It erodes patient confidence in our health care providers, causing justified fear that they will advocate for the suicide option in difficult cases.
    6. It requires doctors to lie about the facts of a patient’s death, citing the illness as the cause, not the ingestion of the lethal medication.
    7. It does not necessarily guarantee a “peaceful” or immediate end of life.
    8. It promotes suicide as an option in a time where suicide among the young is increasing and suicide prevention is public policy.
    9. It opens the door to involuntary euthanasia of those deemed “defective,” such as people with advanced dementia or severe disability that renders them unable to communicate.

For more explanation of these and other reasons to oppose assisted suicide, please go to www.notdeadyet.org and dredf.org/public-policy/assisted suicide.

Progressives and disability rights advocates have a compelling case to make here. We need to voice our opposition loudly and clearly, and to help educate others about the full implications of this legislation so that they will indeed have “second thoughts.”

There is a list of Public Health Committee members at cga.ct.gov. Please write to ask them to withdraw this bill. (It did not yet have a number as this newsletter went to press.)

Joan Cavanagh, a long-time peace and justice activist, is a member of Second Thoughts Connecticut, a bi-partisan organization composed of citizens with disabilities and advocates who oppose the legalization of assisted suicide.