State has a proper role in suicide cases

In response to “New York’s aid-in-dying advocates look to 2018” [Opinion, Sept. 28], as the Court of Appeals noted, New Yorkers already may refuse to be hooked up to life-prolonging machines. Lethal drugs prescribed to cause death are a very different matter.

The court also said, “The State pursues a legitimate purpose in guarding against the risks of mistake and abuse. The State may rationally seek to prevent the distribution of prescriptions for lethal dosages of drugs that could, upon fulfillment, be deliberately or accidentally misused.”

In Oregon, we don’t have to look far to find cases in which insurers denied coverage for prescribed chemotherapy but offered coverage for assisted suicide: Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup, Oregonians with cancer, were informed of this decision by the Oregon Health Plan.

We don’t have to look far for cases in which lethal prescriptions were given to people who were not terminal (having no more than six months to live). In 2016 in Oregon, at least one person lived another 539 days; another year, the longest was 1,009 days.

Assisted-suicide advocacy groups urge us to grant blanket legal immunity to all involved, but legislators owe a duty to all, not just the few who may think they are safe from mistake, coercion and abuse.

Diane Coleman, Rochester

Editor’s note: The writer is executive director of Not Dead Yet, a disability rights organization that opposes assisted suicide.

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