While some in the Massachusetts legislature support the proposed assisted suicide bill (H.4782/S.2745), legalizing assisted suicide would be disastrous for the most vulnerable among us. During this worldwide pandemic, compassion is at the forefront of everyone’s mind and everyone wants their loved ones to be cared for and comfortable at the end of life; but assisted suicide is not the answer. Assisted suicide public policy is dangerous and impossible to regulate.
These laws are ripe for abuse, coercion, and harm to the most vulnerable among us: the elderly, the terminally ill, and people living with disabilities. Last year, the National Council on Disability published a study on the dangers of assisted suicide to people with disabilities. The study found that provisions put in place to prevent abuse are, “ineffective, and often fail to protect patients.” With the so-called safeguards ineffective at best, this is a policy that should give all Massachusetts residents cause for concern.
The medical community is also largely opposed to assisted suicide. The American Medical Association, the largest medical society in the country, reaffirmed their resounding (71%) opposition to assisted suicide last year noting that it is, “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”
Instead of working to make death widely available for Massachusetts residents, I urge legislators to work to expand access to quality care, hospice options, and palliative care. Our most vulnerable deserve the best we can offer, not abandonment and hastened death.
John Y. Rhee, MD MPH, is a neurology resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and lives in Cambridge
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