Cameron Testimony in RI

Anita Cameron, NDY’s Director of Minority Outreach, testified to the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee at its Zoom hearing on the state’s assisted suicide bill on Monday, April 26. In a brief two-and-a-half minutes, she shared her mother’s story of a very mistaken medical prognosis as well as opposition to assisted suicide in communities of color.

This testimony is from Not Dead Yet, which includes a video of Anita Cameron testifying.

Testimony of Anita Cameron in opposition to Rhode Island Bill S 775, April 26, 2021

Thank you, Madame Chair and members of the committee. My name is Anita Cameron. I’m Director of Minority Outreach for Not Dead Yet. It’s a national disability rights organization opposed to assisted suicide.

So I’m here to express opposition to S775. There are many reasons to oppose this bill and others like it. And here are some:

Number 1. This bill puts disabled, seniors and sick people in grave jeopardy. Doctors often make mistakes when determining people to be terminal. I know, my mother was determined to be terminal, yet survived almost 12 years after that diagnosis. She passed away on February 1st of this year.

Number 2. According to the Oregon report, the top five reasons that people request assisted suicide, which is loss of autonomy, loss of the ability to do activities that brought pleasure, loss of dignity, loss of control of bodily functions, and feeling of being a burden, are disability-related psychosocial issues that have not been effectively addressed, not pain or fear of it as proponents claim.

Number 3. According to various reports, Blacks in particular almost never request assisted suicide, especially if they’re poor. And that’s borne out in a Massachusetts referendum results that show that poor Blacks and Latines and Whites voted overwhelmingly against assisted suicide in that state. And in fact, around the nation, assisted suicide is requested almost entirely by wealthier, educated whites.

So bills like S775 are never safe. And rather than assisted suicide, people need effective treatment for their conditions, and services and support along with options like psychotherapy, palliative care, and palliative sedation. Death should never be an option in healthcare.

Thank you very much.