Opponents say medically assisted suicides make terminal patients vulnerable

When the California law allowing medically assisted suicides passed in 2016, Stephanie Packer, a single mother of four, got a call from her insurance company.

Medically assisted suicide “would be much cheaper” than her current treatment, her insurance company told her. The company would no longer cover chemotherapy, pain medication or other remedies used to treat her Diffuse Systemic Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that has causes her lungs to harden.

The copay for the “suicide drugs” was only $1.20, while her other treatments would cost thousands.

Packer and others traveled to the Massachusetts State House on Tuesday to testify against two bills (H 1926 and S 1208) that would legalize the right to die for terminal patients in the commonwealth. The legislation would allow people given terminal diagnoses to ask their doctor for life-ending drugs.

Packer, and others who gathered at a press conference before a joint committee hearing on public health Tuesday, said the laws allow insurance companies to coerce terminally ill people into ending their lives…

Kristen Hanson, the community relations advocate at the Patient’s Rights Action Fund said her husband JJ Hanson died of brain cancer in 2017. He was 36.

Hanson, who spoke at a press conference before the state house hearing, said that access to lethal drugs could tempt a depressed patient into ending his or her life. She and others also argued that doctors have a difficult time predicting how long a person will actually live. In her husband’s case he was given four months to live.

“Thankfully, we didn’t listen and JJ had great success with treatment. He lived three and a half good years following his diagnosis. During that time our son created priceless memories with JJ and we welcomed a second son into the world,” Hanson said. “But if assisted suicide was legal at the time, JJ could have had the lethal drugs with him during his darkest days when he questioned if we’d all be better off without him, fearing he was a burden to me and his family.”

Before he died, her husband told her that if he had access to the pills he may have taken them.

“These laws abandon vulnerable patients like JJ who can experience depression at any point following their diagnosis. Once patients receive the prescription, they’re on their own. There is no requirement for a doctor to follow-up with them,” Hanson said.

Read more at Mass Live…

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