Disability Rights Organizations Issue Statement Opposing Assisted Suicide Laws and Supporting Health Care

To be released on the occasion of the House Committee markup 
of a Disapproval Resolution on the District of Columbia assisted suicide bill

We, as disability rights organizations, oppose the legalization of assisted suicide, which is a dangerous and harmful public policy.

We also support the continuation of the Affordable Care Act and everything it does to provide good health care to people with disabilities. Any degradation in health care will drive increased demand for assisted suicide.

Our reasons for opposing assisted suicide laws are many. When assisted suicide is legal, it’s the cheapest treatment available—an attractive option in our profit-driven healthcare system. Terminal diagnoses and prognoses are too often wrong, leading people to lose good years of their lives. If one doctor says “no,” people can “doctor shop” for that “yes.” No psychological evaluation is required, putting depressed people in danger.

The highly touted “safeguards” turn out to be truly hollow, with no real enforcement or investigation authority. Assisted suicide is a prescription for abuse: an heir or abusive caregiver can steer someone towards assisted suicide, witness the request, pick up the lethal dose, and in the end, even administer the drug—no witnesses are required at the death, so who would know? Many other pressures exist that can cause people with compromised health to hasten their death. Evidence appears to show that assisted suicide laws also lead to suicide contagion, driving up the general suicide rate. We all already have the right to good pain relief, including palliative sedation if dying in pain.

Because the dangers and harms are so significant, many national disability and medical organizations oppose assisted suicide laws, and many legislatures have repeatedly rejected them.

ADAPT
American Association of People With Disabilities
Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Disability Rights Center
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
National Council on Independent Living
National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities
Not Dead Yet
TASH
United Spinal Association

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