Boston, MA (PRWEB) December 16, 2013
Disability rights activists from across the region will be speaking Tuesday before the Massachusetts legislature's Joint Committee on Public Health in opposition to H 1998, which would legalize assisted suicide in the state. The group called Second Thoughts was instrumental last year in the defeat of the assisted suicide referendum, Question 2. The hearing begins at 10:00 AM in Room A-1 at the State House.
Second Thoughts director John Kelly said, “This dangerous bill enables a doctor to misdiagnose you as terminal, decide that your depression doesn’t impair your judgment, and give you a prescription on the same day.”
Ruthie Poole, Board President of member organization MPOWER, said “As someone who has suffered from major depression in the past, I can relate to the desire for ‘an easy way out.’ Depression is treatable and reversible. Suicide is not. I look forward to testifying against H 1998."
William Peace, the Jeanette K Watson Distinguished Visiting Professor at Syracuse University, is driving from New York to talk about the time the doctor in a hospital tried to convince him to choose death over treating a dangerous infection. “I was not in any way terminally ill. Yet a physician I had never met deemed my life not worth living. Disability in this physician’s opinion was a fate worse than death.”
Second Thoughts member Karen Schneiderman said that "Abuse of older and disabled people is already a problem. With no safeguards and no waiting period, people’s lives will be endangered.”
Cassie Cramer, a geriatric social worker with experience working in Protective Services, plans to submit written testimony stating “that elder abuse, caregiver neglect or financial exploitation is widespread and that the wrong-doing is typically not glaring or easily identifiable by providers.”
Kelly, who is also the New England regional director for Not Dead Yet, a national disability group, emphasized that, under current law, people have the right to refuse or stop medical treatment, including food and water. People also have the right to adequate pain relief, even to the point of sedation if necessary. “What’s clear from Oregon is that pain is not the issue - prescribing doctors report patient concerns are psychological and social factors like physical dependence on others, feeling like a burden,” Kelly said. “Those are disability issues and we have a problem with using these concerns to justify state supported suicide.”