August 24, 2015
Contact: Carrie Ann Lucas (970) 460-4035
Assisted suicide proponents have recently submitted an initiative to amend the Colorado constitution to allow not only assisted suicide, but non-voluntary euthanasia as well. This first in the nation proposal to allow both assisted suicide and euthanasia will allow some people’s lives to be ended without their consent. There will be mistakes and abuse, and as a result, people will die needlessly — preventable deaths that can never be undone. The proposed constitutional amendment does not propose any safeguards to prevent this outcome.
Elder abuse, and abuse of people with disabilities, are a continuing problem in Colorado. Though called a free choice, for these patients, assisted suicide and euthanasia would have been a phony form of freedom. Assisted suicide is legal, an heir (someone who stands to inherit from the patient) 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? Each year, more than 11,000 reports of abuse against people with disabilities and seniors are reported in Colorado. Far more go unreported.
“Not Dead Yet is among a long list of disability rights organizations opposing the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. This amendment is a deadly mix in a profit-driven healthcare system where a lethal prescription may become the cheapest treatment. The bill poses a direct threat to the lives of persons with disabilities and the elderly,” said Carrie Ann Lucas of Not Dead Yet Colorado.
Anita Cameron, also of Not Dead Yet Colorado added, “This amendment is unnecessary, as every patient already has the right to refuse treatment. This proposal has no safeguards to protect against abuse and coercion. Legalizing physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia is like putting fire into a paper bag: There’s no way to control it.”
Importantly, there is an alternative: anyone dying in discomfort that is not otherwise relievable, may legally today, receive palliative sedation, wherein the patient is sedated to the point where the discomfort is relieved while the dying process takes place. A legal solution to any uncomfortable deaths that does not endanger others the way an assisted suicide law does exists currently.
“Sadly, many, including the amendment’s primary proponent, fear disability more than death itself,” said Lucas. “This fear already causes so-called ‘mercy killings’, and should not drive public policy.”
“Studies on severely disabled people have demonstrated that disabled people rank their quality of life similar to non-disabled people,” said Robin Stephens, also of Not Dead Yet Colorado. “Some people rank their quality of life as very high, some very low, most inbetween — just like non-disabled people.”
Not Dead Yet Colorado is the Colorado chapter of Not Dead Yet, a a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination against old, ill and disabled people. Not Dead Yet helps organize and articulate opposition to these practices based on secular social justice arguments. Not Dead Yet demands the equal protection of the law for the targets of so called “mercy killing” whose lives are seen as worth-less.
[Readers can view the Media Advisory and visit the NDY CO website here.]