This letter was written by Diane Coleman, the President and CEO of the disability rights group, Not Dead Yet and published on the Not Dead Yet website on September 8, 2015. This letter has been sent to members of the California assembly to oppose assisted suicide bill AB2X 15.
Dear Assembly Member:
I’m writing to urge you not to pass on AB2X 15, the CA assisted suicide bill.
I am a severely disabled woman, and head up the national disability group, Not Dead Yet, which has members in California. I’ve spent a lifetime advocating for the rights of disabled people, young and old, to control our own lives and not have our choices dictated by doctors and other professionals. So you might wonder why I oppose a bill that is widely portrayed as giving people choice and control over their own death.
But who actually has choice and control under assisted suicide laws? Anyone could ask their doctor for assisted suicide, but the law gives the authority to doctors to determine who is eligible. Doctors make the determination that a person is terminally ill and likely to die in six months, and that the request for assisted suicide is voluntary and informed. The advertised “safeguards” in assisted suicide bills are entirely in the hands of doctors, from the diagnosis, prognosis, disclosures, request form, decision whether to refer for psychological assessment, prescription and report after death.
Who are the doctors who are giving lethal prescriptions? The public image is that one’s own doctor, someone who knows you and has taken care of you throughout your illness, will be the one who assists your suicide. But in Oregon, the majority of assisted suicides involve a doctor referred by Compassion and Choices (C&C). [See references under “Doctor Shopping” section of article entitled Why Assisted Suicide Must Not Be Legalized.] The state does not interview doctors who said “no” to the person’s request, so we don’t know why so many people had to go doctor shopping at C&C.