Rhode Island debates assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Rhode Island State House Health, Education and Welfare Committee had a public hearing on an assisted suicide bill on Wednesday March 23.

Nancy Elliott testifies against assisted suicide in Rhode Island.

Jennifer Bogden reported for the Providence Journal on the hearings. According to the report, Margaret Dore, an attorney from Washington State, where assisted suicide is legal, urged lawmakers to:

"consider the details of the bill. In some cases, a person who has insulin-dependent diabetes can be considered to have a terminal illness, she said."
"This bill encourages people to throw away their lives,"

Linda Borg, reported in the Providence Journal, on the testimony by John Kelly, the New England regional coordinator for Not Dead Yet, who stated:

"Mistakes are so common when it comes to diagnoses, much less terminal diagnoses," 
"This is about putting the state's imprimatur on a program in which someone agrees that some people are better off dead."

Borg also reported that Thomas Nerney, director of the Institute for Health Quality and Ethics in Rhode Island testified that:

this bill makes "suicide a medical option (that) changes the very nature of medicine," adding that it would reverse centuries of trust between doctors and patients. 
"We have a terrible history in this country of segregating people with disabilities and pushing them into second-class citizenship," he said. Nerney worries that this bill might lead insurance companies and Medicaid to withhold treatment for terminally ill patients or withdraw coverage for expensive medications.

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