Not Dead Yet Condemns Maine Governor’s Signing of Assisted Suicide Bill

Long time Not Dead Yet disability activist Mike Reynolds condemned today’s signing of “An Act To Enact the Maine Death with Dignity Act” by Governor Janet Mills. “This is a terrible day in the history of Maine that will lead to the untimely deaths of disabled people due to inevitable mistakes, coercion and abuse.”

Reynolds had been scheduled to speak to the Governor’s staff today at 1:00 p.m. along with two others, but learned shortly beforehand that the call was cancelled. Reynolds had penned a recent op-ed in the Bangor Daily News on the issue. He had planned to report on yesterday’s decision by the American Medical Association to maintain it’s longstanding opposition to these bills. He would also have made the following points, which are all too rarely considered by policy makers.

1. When assisted suicide is legal, it’s the cheapest treatment available—an attractive option in our profit-driven healthcare system. If insurers deny, or even merely delay, expensive live-saving treatment, the person will be steered toward assisted suicide. Will insurers do the right thing, or the cheap thing? Examples already exist where this is legal.

2. Elder abuse, and abuse of people with disabilities, are a rising problem. One in ten elders are abused, usually by close family. Where assisted suicide is legal, an heir or abusive caregiver can suggest or steer someone towards assisted suicide, witness the request, pick up the lethal dose, and even give the drug — no independent witnesses are required at the death, so who would know?

3. Terminal diagnoses and prognoses are too often wrong, leading people to lose good years of their lives. And many people with chronic conditions and disabilities can become “terminal” simply by refusing or being denied coverage for essential medications or treatments like insulin or dialysis. This bill is not limited to the imminently dying.

4. The “safeguards” turn out to be truly hollow, with no real enforcement or investigation authority. And the legal immunities in the bill just require a claim of good faith compliance, not actual compliance, protecting everyone involved in the death except the patient.

Read more at www.notdeadyet.org…

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