HB 291, introduced this legislative session 2019, would establish a committee to study end-of-life care. Sponsors of the bill made clear when the bill was introduced that if passed, the study committee would consider assisted suicide as one type of “care.”
Since HB 291 makes no effort to exclude physician assisted suicide as one type of “care”, Cornerstone opposes it. In the wake of all this, we would like to clarify our position on physician assisted suicide.
It would be a short step from legalizing assisted suicide to forcing taxpayers to fund it as a covered service for Medicaid and Medicare. When the need to cut healthcare costs is of great concern nationwide, we need to be vigilant that a cheap lethal prescription doesn’t become the solution.
We were concerned by proposed (and defeated) assisted suicide legislation in New Hampshire in past years, in which “terminal condition” was defined so broadly as to include diabetes and being HIV-positive. (See HB 1325 from 2014). Promotion of assisted suicide will inevitably lead to discrimination against people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions. Ironically, many if not all of the states in which assisted suicide is legal also have public health programs or policies to discourage suicide among certain populations.
We will not accept misleading phrases like “death with dignity” to refer to prescriptions written to end a human life. There’s no dignity in condoning suicide for someone who’s disabled or depressed but not for someone who is healthy. There’s no dignity in putting dollar signs between patients and caregivers or in forcing taxpayers to pay for assistedsuicide under Medicaid and Medicare.
Finally, no health care provider should have to make a choice between providing authentic appropriate care and willfully ending life at the demand of a patient.