By Marilyn Golden
Why, when listing opponents, did The Sacramento Bee editorial pushing an assisted-suicide law ignore the disability community? (“Give the dying the right to pick how and when to die”: Editorials, Oct. 26) We could be those most affected.
As a disability-rights advocate and person living with a disability, I know our concerns aren’t just “fear-mongering.” Rather, legalizing assisted-suicide is a direct threat to our community as well as to the elderly, people with chronic illness and others marginalized by society.
The Oregon assisted-suicide experiment has major problems.
When Oregonian Barbara Wagner was prescribed chemotherapy for aggressive lung cancer, the Oregon health plan refused to cover it. They offered, instead, among other things, to pay for her assisted suicide. Randy Stroup, another Oregonian with cancer, received a similar denial. Is there any wonder why? Treating people with terminal or chronic illness is expensive. At roughly $300, assisted suicide is the cheapest “treatment.”
Direct coercion is not even necessary. Denying, or even merely delaying, expensive, life-sustaining treatment can drive patients toward assisted suicide. It is a deadly mix with our cost-driven health care system.
This is partly why every major disability organization taking a position opposes legalizing assisted suicide.