As our regular readers know, disability rights advocates have already spoken out against the recent New Mexico District Court ruling exempting assisted suicides of people with a “terminal” prognosis from the state law against assisted suicide. NDY published a blog about the ruling and the Albuquerque Journal carried an op-ed by Marilyn Golden, Senior Policy Analyst with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF).
Unfortunately, it’s not a foregone conclusion that the New Mexico Attorney General will appeal. That decision is still pending. To support that crucial next step, on January 22, NDY sent a letter urging the appeal, mirroring the points made in our blog.
This Tuesday, DREDF sent a letter as well, and gave us permission to share it with you:
Dear Assistant Attorney General Fuqua:
I am writing you today in my capacity as Senior Policy Analyst with the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), a national disability rights law and policy center that opposes legalization of assisted suicide, to urge you to appeal the Second Judicial District’s ruling in the Morris assisted suicide case.
DREDF is a leading national law and policy organization that advances the civil and human rights of people with disabilities through legal advocacy, training, education, and public policy and legislative development.
We are deeply concerned about the Morris decision allowing so-called “aid-in-dying,” which is really assisted suicide, or as some call it, doctor-prescribed suicide. Our key concerns include:
- Deadly mix: Assisted suicide is a deadly mix with our profit-driven healthcare system. At $300, assisted suicide will be the cheapest treatment. Assisted suicide saves insurance companies money—even with full implementation of the greatly-needed Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).
- Abuse: Abuse of people with disabilities, and elder abuse, are rising. Not every family is a supportive family! Where assisted suicide is legal, such as in Oregon, an heir or abusive caregiver may steer someone towards assisted suicide, witness the request, pick up the lethal dose, and even give the drug—no witnesses are required at the death, so who would know?
- Mistakes: Diagnoses of terminal illness are too often wrong, leading people to give up on treatment and lose good years of their lives, where assisted suicide is legal.
- Careless: Where assisted suicide is legal, no psychological evaluation is required or even recommended. People with a history of depression and suicide attempts have received the lethal drugs.
- Burden: Financial and emotional pressures can also make people choose death.
- Unnecessary: Everyone already has the legal right to refuse treatment and get full palliative care, including, if dying in pain, pain-relieving palliative sedation.
- No true safeguards: Where assisted suicide is legal, the safeguards are hollow, with no enforcement or investigation authority.
- Our quality of life underrated: Society often underrates people with disabilities’ quality of life. Will doctors & nurses fully explore our concerns and fight for our full lives? Will we get suicide prevention or suicide assistance?
Truly, if this decision becomes long-standing New Mexico law, some people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes and abuse. No safeguards have ever been enacted or proposed that can prevent this outcome, which can never be undone.
Please see more information on all these points at:
… and other information at:
We plead with you to act. The court appears to have only heard from one side. But the vast preponderance of facts lie on the other side.
And please let us know if we can assist you in any way.
Senior Policy Analyst
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)
More letters are needed. Please email your own letter, or even just support for ours, to Attorney General Gary King (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Assistant Attorney General Scott Fuqua (email@example.com). And let’s hope that our next step can be an amicus brief to the higher court explaining why the lower court’s platitudes about assisted suicide safeguards don’t cut it in the real world. – Diane Coleman