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Anita Cameron: Assisted suicide is not the answer as long as racial disparities in care, disability bias go on

Read Anita Cameron’s letter to the editor in the Boston Globe on August 31, 2020. Not Dead Yet has reprinted her letter.

“Michael Martignetti wants a state program to assist his suicide if he is suffering from the effects of his disability (“Mass. should enact End Of Life Options Act,” Opinion, Aug. 13).

I want to be able to live. I want my conditions effectively treated, and I want effective pain relief. But while Martignetti may assume he will get good care, Black people like me tend to receive inferior care because of racial disparities in cardiac care, diabetes, and cancer.

Anita Cameron is the director of minority outreach for Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights group opposed to assisted suicide.

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John Kelly: Older, ill and disabled people deserve choice-promoting services, supports

Read John Kelly’s letter to the editor in the Greenfield Recorder on August 12, 2020 in response to an assisted suicide supporter.

“I disagree with Joan Milnes’s call for passage of the assisted suicide bill now in the legislature (“Making a final choice about quality-of-life,” July 28). Her framing of it as an individual matter of “choice” about one’s so-called “quality-of-life” is prejudicial and dangerous….”

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Anita Cameron: How Many More Have To Die In Nursing Facilities In the Age of COVID-19?

June 15 by Anita Cameron of ADAPT, Article from Not Dead Yet

“COVID-19 continues to rage through America, but not many of us outside the media and disability rights and justice groups are talking about an overlooked population – residents of nursing facilities and institutions for disabled people, who are dying of COVID-19.

To date, more than 51,000 residents and employees of nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died. That’s more than 40 percent of the total death toll in the United States. These are only the numbers they tell us.”…

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Information MA News News

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