What you don't know can kill you

This article was posted by Careful on June 1, 2015.

Marilyn Golden

Marilyn Golden

By Marilyn Golden - Senior Policy Analyst with the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

In a supplement to her testimony to the California Senate Health Committee on assisted suicide bill SB 128, disability rights expert Marilyn Golden looks at the supposed safeguards in the bill to see if the state’s remaining 3 or 4 million uninsured, and masses of underinsured, would be safe.

Under the bill:

* Two doctors must agree the person meets the law’s criteria. But there’s considerable evidence that in Oregon, if your doctor tells you no, you can shop for a doctor who will say yes. An overwhelming number of Oregon’s suicides were facilitated via the organization Compassion and Choices. How often do these referred physicians say no? We don’t know. The reports don’t tell us.
* The person must be terminally ill with 6 months or less to live. Are depressed persons who are misdiagnosed as terminal given lethal drugs? We don’t know. In Oregon over the last few years, only in 3% of reported cases were people were sent for a psychological assessment, according to Oregon’s own figures, yet depression is the most common cause of a request for death. Have people whose depression could have been successfully treated, died in Oregon? We can’t know.

Now let’s look closer at the annual statistical reports mandated by Oregon’s law and this bill. Do they really show us the full picture?

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