In a recent Wicked Local Lexington commentary (“Medical aid in dying important for some with disabilities,” Sept. 28), Michael Martignetti argues for the legalization of assisted suicide from the perspective of someone with the progressive neurological disability, Friedrichs ataxia. I can relate to the author’s disability experience, as 35 years ago a spinal cord injury left me paralyzed from the neck down. Like Martignetti’s, my disability will present challenges as I age.
But whereas Martignetti frames assisted suicide as a personal choice in the face of “unbearable suffering,” I see a state-run program that will result in people losing their lives to misdiagnosis, treatment denial, and coercion/abuse, and depression. Not all families are united in loving and supporting us.
Doctors often make diagnostic mistakes: between 12 percent to 15 percent of people admitted to hospice as “terminally ill” outlive the six-month prediction. Many more who never enter hospice also outlive their diagnosis. For example, the late Senator Ted Kennedy lived a full year longer than his diagnosis of 2 to 4 months, while Florence resident John Norton credits 60 years of good life to the unavailability of assisted suicide after a mistaken prognosis.
Late last year, the Oregon Health Authority explained that people can become “terminally ill” through insurance denial and unaffordability. For example, Nevada Dr. Brian Callister had two patients denied by California and Oregon insurers for what used to be routine, lifesaving, operations. The insurers only offered the “choice” of hospice or assisted suicide. It’s impossible to talk about individual choice when profit-maximizing companies can – with no accountability – make you terminal.
Read more at the Worcester Telegram…