Legalising assisted suicide discourages medical treatment, US report reveals

People with diabetes and arthritis are being encouraged to undergo assisted suicide in the USA, a report has warned.

The National Council on Disability’s (NCD) report highlights how instead of expanding ‘choice’, assisted suicide laws “often remove choices”.

Assisted suicide is currently legal in eight states and Washington DC, where lethal drugs can be administered to patients who are deemed to have six months or less to live.

‘Purported safeguards’

The report shows that assisted suicide in Oregon has gradually become available to those with “disabilities that, when properly treated, do not result in death, including arthritis, diabetes, and kidney failure”.

NCD hit out at “purported safeguards”, finding that: “Insurers have denied expensive, life-sustaining medical treatment, but offered to subsidize lethal drugs, potentially leading patients to hasten their own deaths”.

Chairman Neil Romano added: “Assisted suicide laws are premised on the notion of additional choice for people at the end of their lives, however in practice, they often remove choices when the low-cost option is ending one’s life versus providing treatments to lengthen it or services and supports to improve it”.

The report highlights the issue of “demoralization”, where those with disabilities “regard help as undignified and burdensome”, which leads them to seek assisted suicide.

Green light

In the UK last month, a man who sat beside his mother’s bed as she died urged politicians to resist demands to change the law.

Martin Conroy said: “The truth is that assisted suicide gives the green light to hopelessness and despair. It sanctions suicide as a response to hardship and leaves the vulnerable more vulnerable – especially the disabled”.

In 2015, Parliament rejected a Bill brought by Labour MP Rob Marris to legalise assisted suicide. MPs voted against the Bill by 330 votes to 118.

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