Senate Bill 490’s title indicates it’s about studying end-of-life issues, but the sponsor’s recent Senate testimony told a different tale. Cornerstone Action’s executive director Shannon McGinley explains the organization’s opposition to the bill.
We appreciate Sen. Martha Hennessey’s candor at the February 8 hearing on the bill, when she expressed support for what she called “medically assisted death.” We are not fooled by attempts to give better-sounding names to physician-assisted suicide.
Physician-assisted suicide is poor public policy, no matter what euphemism its supporters employ. We cannot support any study that is open to defining assisted suicide as a health care option.
Even without the Senator’s testimony, looking strictly at the bill, we have serious concerns about end-of-life studies that do not explicitly rule out from the outset any recommendation for legalizing physician-assisted suicide. There is no “death with dignity” when a prescription that is written to end a human life is regarded as medical treatment.
Therefore, given our serious and well-founded concern that SB 490 represents an introduction to assisted suicide, we can’t simply comment about whether we think an end-of-life study is a good idea. In view of Sen. Hennessey’s testimony, it is clear that with SB 490, assisted suicide is on the table as a long-term policy option. Our opposition to the bill rests on that.
Assisted suicide is a cost-cutting measure that puts a dollar sign between patient and caregiver. Palliative, rehabilitative, and psychological care will always be more expensive than a lethal dose of a drug. There is no telling how many people will decide, with the state’s approval, that death is cheaper and therefore preferable. This is insidious coercion to which the elderly and people with disabilities will be particularly susceptible.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill on February 22. The Health and Human Services Committee is recommending an amendment to the bill that does not change its substance and does not rule out assisted suicide as a policy conclusion.