Assisted suicide bill puts marginalized people at greater risk of harm

By Mary D. Lopez

Lopez is the executive director at Independence Empowerment Center in Manassas. From 1997-2010, Lopez also served on the Board of Not Dead Yet, an advocacy group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Last year Virginia lawmakers introduced assisted suicide legislation for the first time. Thankfully, that lethal bill never made it out of committee. However, any chance that Virginia will consider legalizing assisted suicide is alarming — especially for those of us with disabilities.

Assisted-suicide legislation threatens already-marginalized Virginians in a variety of ways. Legislators should consider how legalization will have unintended consequences for people like me who live with a disability, people given uncertain terminal prognoses, and people battling depression.

Assisted suicide perpetuates the lie that, as a person with a disability, I’m disposable if I become too much of a burden or inconvenience to the able-bodied men and women around me. In fact, the Oregon Health Authority found that the top five reasons people elect assisted suicide in that state are disability-related. They include the loss of autonomy, being less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable, loss of dignity, losing control of bodily functions, and being a burden on family, friends or caregivers…

Furthermore, such legislation invites insurers to value their bottom line over the lives of patients. Nevada-based physician Brian Callister has said two patients under his care were denied the lifesaving treatment they needed in favor of less-expensive assisted-suicide drugs. What is the purpose of health insurance if physicians aren’t able to save and cure their patients? This legislation would lead to more patients — who already must navigate a profit-driven health care system – being sacrificed to an insurers’ bottom line…

Read more at the Roanoke Times…

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