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Assisted Suicide Bill Remains Dangerous, Further Endangers Vulnerable

June 15, 2020

In light of new information, Second Thoughts Massachusetts revises its June 2 statement in opposition to the assisted suicide bill favorably reported by the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health. Assisted suicide bill S.2745, recently renumbered from S.1208/H.1926, was moved to the Joint Committee on Healthcare Financing on June 8.

“I’m amazed and disappointed that as a deadly virus is stalking and killing older, ill, and disabled people, and systemic racism and healthcare disparities lead to disproportionate deaths of Black people, the Public Health Committee decides now would be the time to further endanger the same group of people. Assisted suicide legislation sends a message of ‘better dead than disabled’ while completely immunizing doctors, heirs, and stressed caregivers who can encourage or even engineer a person’s death without fear of prosecution,” said Second Thoughts Director John B. Kelly.

Anita Cameron, Director of Minority Outreach for Not Dead Yet, said “I am utterly disgusted that as COVID-19 ravages the Black community due to the results of racial disparities in healthcare, the Public Health Committee has decided to promote death over life. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the Black community; we are dying at frightening rates. Black people overwhelmingly oppose assisted suicide. It’s not our top issue, but by pushing this mostly White-, mostly wealthy-backed bill, the legislature is sending a clear message to us Blacks that our interests can continue to be ignored.”

Diane Coleman, President and CEO of Not Dead Yet, said “The doctors who decide who’s eligible for assisted suicide are the same doctors who have been perfectly comfortable putting older, ill and disabled people at the back of the line for receiving COVID treatments. Why should anyone think they will move us to the front of the line for other life-saving treatments if assisted suicide is legal?”

Five months ago, Suffolk Superior court Judge Mary K. Ames in Kligler, et al. v. Healey, et al. ruled against any state constitutional right for assisted suicide, holding that at the point of a patient ingesting the lethal drugs, they would be vulnerable to improper persuasion. “In such a situation, there is a greater risk that temporary anger, depression, a misunderstanding of one’s prognosis, ignorance of alternatives, financial considerations, strain on family members or significant others, or improper persuasion may impact the decision.”

“The Massachusetts legislature should heed this warning by the court. If assisted suicide is legal, some people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through insurance denials, abuse, and mistakes. No safeguards have ever been enacted, or even proposed, that can prevent this outcome which can never be undone once it is put into effect,” Kelly added.

Second Thoughts Massachusetts is a group of disability rights advocates opposed to the legalization of assisted suicide. We testified against the bill S.1208 (now S.2745) at the hearing in June of 2019 and held a well-attended legislative briefing a few days after. It is the state affiliate of Not Dead Yet, the national grassroots group opposed to assisted suicide and life and death discrimination against disabled people.

CONTACT: John Kelly SecondThoughtsKelly@Gmail.com

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