Summary Points against Bills to Legalize Assisted Suicide from “Not Dead Yet”

Editor’s note. Not Dead Yet is a disability rights group that leads the opposition to the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia. This summary appears here.

  • If assisted suicide is legal, some people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes and abuse. No safeguards have ever been enacted or even proposed that can prevent this outcome, which can never be undone.
  • Assisted suicide is too dangerous.

Assisted suicide is a recipe for abuse, including elder abuse. Where assisted suicide is legal, 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?

  • Diagnoses of terminal illness are too often wrong, leading people to give up on treatment and lose good years of their lives, and endangering people with disabilities, people with chronic illness, and other people misdiagnosed as terminally ill.
  • People with depression are at significant risk.

Once the prescription is filled, there are no safeguards. Why are safeguards missing at the most important point?

  • Assisted suicide will become the only option low-income people can afford.
  • The cost of drugs for doctor-prescribed suicide is miniscule compared to the cost of providing treatment to make a patient more comfortable. This economic force of gravity is obvious and has already been experienced under our nation’s oldest assisted-suicide law in Oregon.
  • Not all families are supportive. Some patients will feel that they should request doctor-prescribed suicide so that they wouldn’t be a financial or emotional burden on their family.
  • Many families are under tremendous strain. At a time of rising food costs, home foreclosures and general economic uncertainty, it would be foolhardy to ignore the role that finances would play when making end-of-life decisions.

Even in families where there is support for a patient diagnosed with a terminal illness, patients could feel that they are being selfish for not sparing their family. This has been documented in Oregon as a reason for requesting a lethal prescription. According to Oregon’s latest (2016) official report, 40 percent of patients who died using that state’s assisted-suicide law did so to avoid being a burden on their family, friends or caregivers.

  • Assisted suicide laws feature virtually no oversight, and data collection is grossly insufficient.

There is no investigation of abuse, nor even a way to report it. The states where assisted suicide is legal today do not report abuses and problems.