I was very saddened to read the March 6 editorial in The Enterprise in support of physician-assisted suicide. I am troubled that the terminology has been softened to “medical aid in dying,” which implied to me palliative care, which accompanies people in their passage from this life.
I am concerned that physician-assisted suicide is being considered as the solution to a difficult situation for a limited number of people, when the ramifications of it will affect exponentially more. The greatest unavoidable consequence is the societal attitude that when life becomes “unbearable” the law supports the person in ending it. How do we help our teenagers and young people value remaining alive and dealing with their seemingly overwhelming troubles if it is simpler to end it all?
Another ramification reinforces the idea that dying people are “a burden.” The uncontrolled disposal (or not) of unused pills is another problem. Also, there is nothing in this bill to ensure that insurance companies don’t deny coverage of life-saving treatments and instead pay for lethal drugs because it’s more cost efficient to end life than it is to save it.
Despite what proponents claim, once this door is opened, there is no way to prevent the elderly, veterans, people with disabilities and those diagnosed with terminal illness from being pressured, subtly, into taking their lives because this would be an option.
It can be extremely difficult and painful to be with someone during their last days, and I offer my sympathy to Rosalind Kipling in the very painful loss of her husband, and to all those who have felt helpless as they watched their loved ones slowly die. I regret that this has made Mrs. Kipling terrified of her end, but I reject the idea that the rest of us should be. Hospice and palliative care provide the compassionate care this bill supposedly provides. They cannot eliminate all suffering, but ameliorate it as they can, and provide comfort.
Instead of supporting this bill, the state legislature and governor should offer support for hospice and palliative care.