Letter: Concern About Broadening Access to Assisted Suicide

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By Diane Coleman

There are two significant questions that states should address when considering the legalization of physician-assisted suicide: Should it be a medical treatment, and what are the harms of legalizing it?

On the first, many in the medical profession oppose physician-assisted suicide, including the American Medical Association, which holds that it “is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”

On the second question, major disability rights organizations oppose physician-assisted suicide because it increases the risks that people with disabilities face in receiving medical care, as they are already too often subject to unequal treatment.

Adding physician-assisted suicide as a medical treatment exposes people with disabilities to systemic pressures to end their lives in the context of life-threatening illnesses. Before adopting physician-assisted suicide, or any extension of it, we need to ask, answer and understand the implications of such a step.

The writer is president and C.E.O. of Not Dead Yet, a disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide.

Source: “Broadening Access to Aid-in-Dying Care,” NYTimes.com

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