Editor, The Cheshire Herald:
People at risk in Connecticut are already having trouble accessing quality healthcare.
Patients and our physicians are constantly fighting insurers for important services, treatments, and medication, including pain drugs, only to be denied coverage. Meanwhile, a handful of legislators and a well-heeled out-of-state special interest group are pushing to legalize assisted suicide, which would make suicide a medical “treatment” option.
In our profit-driven health care system, the wealthy and well-insured will have one more means to an option that is already legal, but for people with disabilities and economic disadvantage, suicide will become the only “treatment” to which they have equal access.
If this were about pain, they’d be pushing a palliative care bill that supports more training for medical professionals and access for our Connecticut residents. The fact is, though, that pain is not in the top five reasons people are requesting lethal drugs in states where it is legal. The top reasons include loss of enjoyment in usual activities, burden to family, loss of bodily function and loss of autonomy. These are all disability-related issues that can be remedied in ways other than suicide.
Medicaid won’t always cover the in-home care and other services that might evaporate a person’s suicide wish. Yet, in some states where assisted suicide is legal, the state is happy to pay for your suicide. Why? It saves them a bundle. Researchers say that anywhere between 20 to 60% of cancer patients have symptoms of depression, but with the dangerous public policy of assisted suicide, there is no required psychiatric evaluation and no medical professional required at the time of ingestion to ensure patient autonomy.
Assisted suicide public policy has proven too dangerous in other states with the vulnerable hurt the most. Let’s learn from their mistakes and steer clear of legalizing assisted suicide in Connecticut. Legislators should reject SB 88.