A Letter to American Legislators:
We believe that legalizing assisted suicide is bad public policy and should be rejected by every State legislature.
Legalizing assisted suicide enables one citizen to be directly and intentionally involved with causing the suicide death of another citizen. America must not allow its citizens to be involved with causing the death of other Americans. We understand that the most tragic cases will dominate the public discussion, but the issues must be considered based on how it will affect society as a whole.
Assisted suicide is not a socially acceptable response to terminal or incurable illness or chronic conditions. Legalizing assisted suicide may result in some people feeling pressured and thereby considering themselves or their loved ones as ‘better-off-dead’. Some people will feel obliged to justify why they want to continue medical treatment. For many, including attending physicians, assisted suicide would become the unspoken, but ever present, question resulting in a subtle, negative change to the doctor-patient relationship. Will this result in a “duty to die”?
The government must not place the lives of citizens at risk. Legislators need to apply the precautionary principle: the higher the risk – the higher the burden of proof on those proposing legislation. The risk of abuse cannot be eliminated.
Assisted suicide poses a threat to the equality of persons. The lives of some in our community will be considered — “not worth living”. Among those at greatest risk are the elderly, the lonely, those living with disabilities, those experiencing chronic illness and those with limited access to good medical care. Laws that prohibit assisted suicide protect every Americans equally.
Older people are not a problem to be rid of — they’re a generation to be honored and cared for. Elder Abuse has become a significant problem in America. We cannot ignore the possibility that dependent elderly people may be coerced into assisted suicide. We cannot put older Americans at risk by creating new paths to elder abuse.
Legalizing assisted suicide is a recipe for abuse. So-called ‘safeguards’ are an illusion because they are unable to prevent the potential for coercion and abuse.
Every American should have access to quality pain control — no matter where they live. Pain control and palliative medicine should be given a higher priority in medical training so that every American can benefit.
Being involved in one’s health care plan and making informed choices are vitally important to a patient’s sense of well-being. Assisted suicide would weaken the autonomy of patients, reducing their choices about their care and symptom management. Assisted suicide could be increasingly adopted as the easier option to the exclusion of genuine patient centered care.
We respectfully ask you in every instance, to firmly oppose assisted suicide legislation.
Sign up for Declaration of Hope USA, a project of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC).
Declaration of Hope USA
To sign the Canadian Declaration of Hope go to www.declarationofhope.ca