The New Hampshire House will vote early March, on HB 1325, a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Cornerstone opposes the bill for several reasons.
- While the bill supposedly would allow assisted suicide only for patients in a “terminal condition,” that term is defined as “an irreversible condition … that will result in premature death.” Does that include diabetes? Being HIV-positive? Having a permanent mobility impairment? Essentially, HB 1325 would cover anyone with a disability, broadly defined.
- The availability of assisted suicide puts a dollar sign between patient and health care provider. A handful of pills will always be cheaper and simpler than pain management, treatment, and support.
- An assisted suicide law would open the door to abuse of New Hampshire’s elderly and medically-vulnerable residents. While two witnesses would be required for a person’s request for assisted suicide, one of those witnesses could be the person’s heir. Furthermore, the option of a relatively inexpensive lethal option would put subtle pressure on a medically-vulnerable individual who might fear becoming a “burden.”
- There are no penalties in the bill for physicians who fail to report prescribing intentionally lethal drug dosages. There are no penalties for incomplete reports. In fact, virtually no sanctions could be applied to a physician facilitating a patient’s death, as long as she or he was acting in “good faith.”
Ironically, as the committee considers this bill, Belgium has just passed a law legalizing euthanasia of disabled children – allegedly with a “terminal condition.” Belgium passed its first assisted suicide bill only twelve years ago.