Suicide is the act of intentionally killing oneself. There is nothing in the definition which changes the meaning depending on why one is performing the act.
Indeed, even the highest court in New York, the Court of Appeals, affirmed by a resounding 5-0 decision in Myers v. Schneiderman (2017) that regardless of the reasoning behind the desire to allow doctors to prescribe medication intended to cause the patient’s death upon self-administration, it is still, in fact, suicide. The court, no raging bastion of conservatism, recognized the state’s interests in prohibiting assisted suicide including “prohibiting intentional killing and preserving life; preventing suicide; maintaining physicians’ roles as their patients’ healers; protecting vulnerable people from indifference, prejudice, and psychological and financial pressure to end their lives; and avoiding a possible slide towards euthanasia.” So no, Dr. Federman’s claim that “medical aid in dying” is not suicide is factually and legally incorrect.
Then Dr. Federman makes the nonsensical claim that “there is absolutely no evidence that medical aid in dying impacts suicide rates.” It would be a perfectly sound statement except that suicide rates are based on the number of people killing themselves. But then, if you stop calling suicide suicide, then suicide rates are not affected by suicide — is that how it goes?
Lastly, Dr. Federman attempts to explain that when a person commits suicide, or rather is “aided in dying,” the underlying illness should be listed as the cause of death. Currently, this is known as offering a false instrument for filing and is a crime in New York. Of course, if this bad legislation is passed, what is now an ethical and legal wrong would become the law. Dr. Federman’s insistence on not listing the actual cause of death as the cause of death falls rather flat considering that the underlying illness could still be noted for the purposes of compiling disease statistics.
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