This article was published on the Californians Against Assisted Suicide website.
By Margaret Dore Esq., MBA*
Assemblyman Roger Hernandez was recently quoted as concerned that big business would use California's assisted suicide proposal, SB 128, to "guide people in that direction," meaning early death via a lethal overdose.
This is a valid concern.
I am an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. Our law is based on a similar law in Oregon. Both laws are similar to SB 128, which seeks to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in California.
In Oregon, it is well documented that Oregon's Medicaid program uses coverage incentives to steer people to suicide. See: Affidavit of Oregon doctor, Ken Stevens, pp 3-4. With legal assisted suicide, private health plans have this same ability. Dr. Stevens states:
If assisted suicide is legalized in [your state], your government health plan could follow a similar pattern. Private health plans could also follow this pattern. If so, these plans would pay for you and/or your family to die, but not to live. (Emphasis added). Id, ¶16.
Dr. Stevens also notes that the mere presence of legal assisted suicide steers people to suicide, which was the case with his patient Jeanette Hall. Her cancer treatment was fully covered, but with the existence of Oregon's law, she nonetheless became adamant that she would kill herself. Dr. Stevens convinced her to be treated instead. (Affidavit, ¶¶ 5-9). She is alive today, fifteen years later.