Disability Rights Group Announces Opposition to Massachusetts Assisted Suicide Initiative
Boston, MA (PRWEB) December 09, 2011
On Thursday, December 8 at 12:30 p.m. at the Massachusetts State House, disability rights advocates, speaking as part of a new group they are calling Second Thoughts, publicly announced their opposition to a proposed assisted suicide 2012 ballot initiative in Massachusetts. Led by Boston disability activist John Kelly, with members from a number of the state’s centers for independent living run by people with disabilities, the group plans to add its voice to the growing and diverse opposition to the initiative.
“Some people may ask why disabled people are speaking out about problems with a proposal that’s supposed to be about terminal illness,” said Kelly, “but when you look at the reasons Oregon reports for giving lethal prescriptions, it’s mainly about the social and emotional issues of becoming disabled, like depending on others and feeling like a burden.”
The top five reasons Oregon doctors report patients requesting suicide all relate to the perceived quality of life -- not the conditions of actual dying -- of the patient. In order, the reasons listed are the "loss of autonomy" (89.9%), “less able to engage in activities” (87.4%), “loss of dignity” (83.8%), “loss of control of bodily functions” (58.7%) and "feelings of being a burden” (38.3%) (Death With Dignity Act Annual Reports).
“There are so many problems with this initiative, from everyday inaccuracies in diagnosis and prognosis, to a lack of meaningful safeguards against abuse and pressure from self interested family,” said Paul Spooner, executive director of Metro West Center for Independent Living. “The reality is that once the lethal dose is in the house, an heir to the person’s estate could administer it without anyone’s knowledge.”
Last weekend, on December 3, the Massachusetts Medical Society, which represents 23,000 of the state’s physicians, voted to sustain its long standing opposition to doctor assisted suicide. According to the Society’s press release, Lynda Young, M.D., president of the Society, said that “Physicians of our Society have clearly declared that physician-assisted suicide is inconsistent with the physician’s role as healer and health care provider. At the same time we recognize the importance of patient dignity and the critical role that physicians have in end-of-life care.”