The Fight Against New York State’s Assisted Suicide Act

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By Kevin Hayes

“Every waking moment, I’m in excruciating pain as we speak,” said Anita Cameron, an advocate and minority outreach director for the group ‘Not Dead Yet.’

Cameron is very much in the middle of it with multiple disabilities and pain she constantly considers ‘more than a 10.’ For Anita and those opposed to the bill, it’s about something different.

“People aren’t dying because they’re terminal. They’re dying because they’re poor,” she added. “Because they can’t afford to live in poverty because they they’re disabled and they can get the services and supports that they knew.”

Anita testifies nationwide regularly for the Rochester-based group. They oppose euthanasia as well as the compassionate choice laws — fervently calling them assisted suicide — something first legalized in the Pacific Northwest.

“The Oregon data shows that the top five reasons that people request assisted suicide have to do with disability,” said Cameron. “So we’re talking loss of autonomy, loss of the ability to do things that they could do before, loss of dignity and feelings of being a burden.”

Is there a point where if there were enough guardrails and change that the option is acceptable? Is there even a spot down the line?

“No,” she said without hesitation. “And the reason is because the proponents push the laws through, they influence the legislators, they push the laws through and then they go and they expand them.”

Anita is not blind to others’ suffering.

“Make no mistake. I have the utmost compassion for people who are in that kind of pain. But the answer is not suicide,” she added. “The answer is for people to have access to effective pain management.”

Source: “The fight for and against New York state’s Medical Aid in Dying Act,”

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