Advocates for Disabled Criticize Assisted Suicide Bill
Many disabilities rights advocates are opposing a bill (AB 651) to legalize doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, saying it could pressure people with disabilities to request lethal prescriptions, the Sacramento Bee reports (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 2/9).
Under the bill, by Assembly members Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys) and Wilma Chan (D-Oakland), certain terminally ill patients would be able to obtain a lethal dose of medication from physicians. Patients would be subject to a waiting period and multiple medical evaluations (California Healthline, 1/25).
Opponents of the bill say that society does not provide enough support to allow people with disabilities to live independently and that people with potentially terminal diseases could choose suicide because they feel it is the only option or they do not want to burden their families.
Opponents also say health care institutions try to avoid spending money on costly care, which could lead doctors to be more likely to prescribe lethal drugs to patients with disabilities.
However, supporters of the bill note that it includes language to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities, and prohibits issuing lethal prescriptions solely because of a patient's disability or age (Sacramento Bee, 2/9).