Not Dead Yet, Second Thoughts to Testify Against New Hampshire Assisted Suicide Bill

Not Dead Yet’s New England director, John Kelly, who is also Director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts, will be joining disability rights activists in Concord, New Hampshire on Tuesday, February 4, to testify against HB 1325, an assisted suicide bill. The bill defines “terminal” as an “incurable and irreversible condition,” which in a doctor’s opinion “will result in premature death”, making many people with disabilities with years of life ahead of them eligible for assisted suicide rather than suicide prevention.

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This bill, with its expansive eligibility targeting a wide range of people with long-term disabilities who are nowhere near death, morphs New Hampshire's honored state motto, 'Live Free or Die' into an ableist obscenity: 'Live Nondisabled or Die.'

Concord, New Hampshire (PRWEB) February 04, 2014

Not Dead Yet’s New England director, John Kelly, will be joining disability rights activists in Concord, New Hampshire on Tuesday, February 4, to testify against HB 1325, an assisted suicide bill. The House Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing on the bill at 1:30 PM, in Room 208 of the Legislative Office Building.

“HB 1325 is flat out dangerous to the people of New Hampshire and the region,” said Kelly. “This bill recklessly redefines thousands of people with disabilities and chronic conditions as terminal and eligible for assisted suicide.”

Section 13 of the bill defines “terminal” as an “incurable and irreversible condition,” which in a doctor’s opinion “will result in premature death.” Stephen Mendelsohn of Second Thoughts Connecticut wrote in submitted testimony that, "This bill, with its expansive eligibility targeting a wide range of people with long-term disabilities who are nowhere near death, morphs New Hampshire's honored state motto, 'Live Free or Die' into an ableist obscenity: 'Live Nondisabled or Die.'"

Advocates from the two state Second Thoughts chapters have been resisting assisted suicide initiatives throughout the region. In 2012, Second Thoughts Massachusetts helped stop a ballot question heavily favored to win, and in 2013, Connecticut Second Thoughts routed a bill out of committee.

“HB 1325 recklessly expands the definition of terminal condition to include thousands of New Hampshire residents and endangers just about anyone with a chronic condition,” said Kelly, who also directs Second Thoughts Massachusetts. “It 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. No suicide prevention, just suicide assistance.”

Kelly 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.”

In addition, New Hampshire disability activist Thomas “Woody” Wood will be testifying. Another Massachusetts disability advocate, Bill Allan will testify on behalf of the Disability Policy Consortium, a cross-disability group in Massachusetts that opposed assisted suicide there in 2012.