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June 01, 2005

Disability groups oppose California's "insisted" suicide bill

From the LifeNews:

Disability rights groups in California have come out against legislation that would make the state only the second in the nation to legalize assisted suicide. They say the measure would encourage disabled people to kill themselves rather than seeking helpful medical care of pain management.
Cheryl Bergan, a public policy analyst with the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, said she thinks Assembly Bill 654 is severely flawed.

"The problem is you can't make mistakes," she told the Record-Bee newspaper. "If someone dies, you can't go back and say, 'Let's fix that.'"

Bergan told the paper that the bill allows people to request an assisted suicide if they have less than six months to live, but pointed out that doctors aren't always accurate on such predictions.

"We know from the perspective of people with disabilities that many, many times they're told they're going to die within a certain period of time and they don't," she said. "The accuracy of trying to predict end of life is doubtful."

Paul Longmore, director of the Institute of Disability Studies at San Francisco State University, has studied assisted suicide and agrees with Bergan's concerns. He told the Record-Bee that people who normally seek assisted suicide have been "badly abused by the system."

The reason I call it Insisted Suicide rather than "assisted" suicide is that the end result will be freeing people to pressure the handicapped or infirm into letting someone murder them to get them out of the way.

For example, one man who sought an assisted suicide never received the state support he was entitled to and instead of living independently, he was forced into a nursing home.

Advocates of assisted suicide "ignored the social factors and said these guys want to die because they don't want to live with their disabilities," Longmore said. "And the activists, like me, said these guys want to die because they've been mistreated by the system."

Longmore also told the Record-Bee that he worries insurance companies and health care plans will push for assisted suicide as a more economical alternative to funding extensive end-of-life care or care for the disabled.

"It's described as autonomy, freedom of choice, self-determination," Longmore said of assisted suicide. "The question that needs to be asked is -- if you don't have access to other types of care, what kind of options are you going to have?"

Posted by Danny Carlton at June 1, 2005 07:39 AM

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