Every year, physician misdiagnosis affects 12 million Americans, putting half at risk of severe harm. New Jersey’s assisted suicide bill could make that harm lethal. So if you receive your prescribed overdose from a doctor and their colleague who totally misdiagnosed you, no one could ever know your life was cut short by months, years, or decades.
Isn’t New Jersey too savvy to buy the fairy tale of doctor infallibility?
Many Star-Ledger opinions on assisted suicide, pro and con, come with Brittany Maynard’s picture. The Ledger could encourage reader perspective by showing TV star Valerie Harper, decreed “terminally ill” more than a year before Maynard. She recently starred in a play.
Psychosocial reasons alone explain three-quarters of Oregon assisted suicides, yet the Ledger on October 6 presents needless pain as the only alternative. But contemporary palliative practices can ensure patient comfort.
So instead of passing this dangerous bill, state Senators should develop a plan like that recommended by renowned palliative care doctor Ira Byock. Require state medical schools to increase required curriculum in palliation. And before awarding medical licenses, make doctors demonstrate skills in pain management and patient communication.
Now there’s a change that would serve the interests of all New Jerseyans.
New Jersey native John B. Kelly is a disability rights activist based in Boston. He is the director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts and New England regional director for Not Dead Yet, grassroots disability groups opposed to the legalization of assisted suicide.
A community effort to feed those in need
In September, many U.S. food banks observed Hunger Action Month. In New Jersey, it was a timely reminder of the work done to alleviate hunger, but also shed light on the work that still needs to be done. Currently, more than 1.1 million people in our state are food insecure.
Alongside many organizations that work to combat the issue, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey distributes 44 million pounds of food a year to more than 1,000 nonprofit programs. The FoodBank has also partnered with Bank of America for many years. As a board member of the FoodBank, I’m proud to announce that through our combined efforts, 4.7 million times a year, someone in need is fed by a FoodBank partner charity.
However, this work is not complete. I encourage New Jerseyans to volunteer or donate to Give A Meal, a Feeding America program. For every $1 donated through the end of the year, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation will donate $2 to support Feeding America and its network of food banks.
To donate, visit bankofamerica.com/give. Let’s make sure that families don’t have to make painful choices between food and other basic necessities.
Robert Doherty is New Jersey state president of Bank of America.