Diane Coleman, President and CEO of Not Dead Yet, has a very good and very important piece in the New Jersey Star Ledger. In case you are not familiar with Not Dead Yet, they are a national disability rights group that works to oppose assisted suicide and euthanasia policies and practices.
New Jersey is yet another state contending with an assisted suicide bill that is being touted as a “help” for those who are terminally ill. Coleman responds to the often-made arguments of those pushing for “aid in dying.”
These arguments assert that physicians will only be able to assist in dying if the patient has less than six months to live. In addition, we are told that patients will be freely making the decision to end their own lives, that they will not be under duress or coercion, and that they will be in a healthy frame of mind.
- Predictions that someone will die in six months are often wrong
- People who want to die usually have treatable depression and/or need better palliative care
- Pressures to cut health care costs in the current political climate make this the wrong time to add doctor-prescribed suicide to the “treatment” options
- Abuse of elders and people with disabilities is a growing but often undetected problem, making coercion virtually impossible to identify or prevent.
Unlike the 2012 award winning film, Amour, which paints assisted suicide as a great love story, the stark reality is that some people are rightly afraid that their right to live might be taken from them. If groups like Not Dead Yet oppose such legislation, that should be a bright red flag to all of us who think this is just another choice to express our freedom and autonomy.
- Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.