The New York State Medical Aid in Dying Act is really an assisted suicide bill [“Prioritize Medical Aid in Dying Bill,” Just Sayin’, March 21]. It is gravely flawed. Normalizing any suicide counteracts the resources allocated toward suicide prevention programs. To me, the bill increases the risk for elder abuse, creates a “duty to die” for some, changes treatment preferences by insurance, and moves the doctor-patient relationship from healing and caring to the ultimate abandonment: facilitating death.
Modern medicine can alleviate almost all physical pain, but we need to do better addressing existential suffering. The response to suffering should never be to end the sufferer.
The bill has no residency requirement, no waiting period, no requirement for a psychiatric evaluation and no oversight of lethal medications. The bill applies to those not terminal with treatment, e.g., Type I diabetes. Pressure to expand assisted suicide to children, the healthy but tired-of-life, the cognitively impaired and others worthy of both life and our care is inevitable. This bill rejects human duty toward each other and would lead to euthanasia and involuntary deaths.
We must assist people to live life to its natural end, even when this means bravely accompanying them in those last days.
Dr. Lisa A. Honkanen,
Editor’s note: The writer is director of the Office of Human Life, Family and Bioethics for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.