What can seem like dignity can turn out to be anything but

I sympathize with Bobbi Jacobsen (“I have ALS, and I hope for a dignified death,” Opinion Exchange, Sept. 24). Like her, I became severely disabled as an adult. But I oppose assisted suicide: It’s too dangerous.

Assisted suicide can look appealing from an individual’s perspective, but at the state level, it inevitably leads to the premature deaths of non-dying people. At least 12% to 15% of people judged terminal outlive their six-month prognosis, according to the Journal of Palliative Medicine, sometimes by years and decades. Actress Valerie Harper, who died last month, lived six years longer than predicted. Tragically, there are people who would be alive today but for their misplaced trust in a doctor’s prediction.

Jacobsen cites the absence of disability abuse reports from state protection and advocacy agencies, but abuse gets easily buried. For example, Oregonian Wendy Melcher’s death in 2007 at the hands of two nurses was suppressed by the state nursing board.

Elder abuse is rampant. Safeguards end after drugs get dispensed and, because no witness is required, heirs and abusers can engineer deaths without worry.

As the cheapest “treatment” for serious illness, assisted suicide fattens insurers’ profits and crowds out traditional, more expensive treatment.

Read more at The StarTribune…

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