The sponsor of the Delaware assisted suicide bill introduced an amendment apparently designed to address disability related concerns. It’s always good to know that disability opposition has gotten their attention, but this amendment is a total failure and completely misses the point, any point we’ve made. A disability response to the amendment is below. The battle in Delaware wages on.
The IDD amendment is a “clever” but deceptive attempt to address concerns about assisted suicide and people with IDD. Here is the key provision:
“(b) If the patient has a documented intellectual disability, the attending physical shall refer the patient to a licensed clinical social worker who shall ensure that the patient fully understands the information provided pursuant to § 2504B(3). No medication to end a patient’s life in a humane and dignified manner may be prescribed unless the licensed clinical social worker has confirmed in writing to the attending physician that the patient understands the information provided pursuant to § 2504B(3).”
This indicates that people with IDD who are found to understand the (minimal) disclosures provided under the assisted suicide law are eligible.
First, nothing in the proposed bill ensures that people actually have access to the pain relief, palliative care and home and community based personal care services they need. Lack of access to services is a pervasive problem in the disability community.
Moreover, just like all of the proposed bill, it utterly fails to prevent coercion. Coercion to request lethal drugs, like any form of abuse, occurs behind closed doors. The Delaware bill, and the Oregon law on which it is based, do nothing to prevent or discover coercion, nor even to define it. The attending physician need not know the person well; the median duration of the patient-physician relationship in Oregon is 13 weeks. The witnesses to the lethal drug request form need not know the person at all, but can simply check their ID. Yet these are the people who “certify” that there is “no coercion.” Then the patient request form serves as an alibi, covering up any form of foul play and granting blanket legal immunity to the perpetrator(s).