The National Council on Disability (NCD) released a new report highlighting the dangers of legalizing assisted suicide for the disability community. The NCD also issued a series of recommendations for departments across the government while reaffirming its stance that assisted suicide should not be legal in the United States.
On Wednesday, the NCD published Assisted Suicide Laws and their Danger to People with Disabilities, the second report in its Bioethics and Disability Series. NDC looked at assisted suicide in the state of Oregon, where it has been legal for 20 years. Assisted suicide, which is legal in just under 10 states, is typically available to patients diagnosed with a terminal illness who have six months or less to live. Other regulations, requirements and restrictions vary by state.
In its most recent report, NCD found that most often disabled patients requested assisted suicide because of unmet service and support needs, especially when insurers deny expensive medical treatment and care but pay for lethal drugs. This issue is compounded because people in the disability community are more likely to be unemployed and qualify as low income, which means less access to financial resources for health care.
“Assisted suicide laws are premised on the notion of additional choice for people at the end of their lives,” NCD Chairman Neil Romano said in a press release. “However, in practice, they often remove choices when the low-cost option is ending one’s life versus providing treatments to lengthen it or services and supports to improve it.”
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