What the COVID Crisis Tells Us About the Dangers of Assisted Suicide

By Diane Coleman: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The COVID pandemic revealed that people with disabilities have been denied treatment for the virus due to their disabilities and pervasive biases about their “quality of life”. This denial of care raises the very real issue that persons with disabilities are and will face similar discrimination under assisted suicide laws.

Healthcare providers are the gatekeepers of assisted suicide in states where it’s legal, rendering a terminal prognosis, certifying lack of coercion, etc. Assisted suicide laws immunize providers (and other persons) from criminal and civil liability in the death of an individual. Careful examination of the language in these laws reveals the absence of meaningful safeguards. Nevertheless, public acceptance has largely depended on trust in medical providers’ willingness and ability to protect very ill individuals from mistakes, coercion and abuses, up to and including negligent or intentional homicide. The pandemic has demonstrated that such trust is misplaced.

Media Coverage of Discriminatory Denial of COVID Treatment

A recent article in The Hill (Is Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law affecting disabled COVID-19 patients?,12/25/2020) considered the possibility of a link between “Oregon’s decades-old physician-assisted suicide (PAS) law and recent efforts to deny life-saving care to COVID-19 patients with disabilities.”

National Public Radio reporter Joe Shapiro also covered examples of COVID treatment denials involving people with disabilities in Oregon: Oregon Hospitals Didn’t Have Shortages. So Why Were Disabled People Denied Care?, (12/21/2020) and As Hospitals Fear Being Overwhelmed By COVID-19, Do The Disabled Get The Same Access? (12/14/20). The latter article summarized a Harvard researcher:

A “vast majority” of doctors say people with a significant disability have a worse quality of life, according to a recent poll by Dr. Lisa Iezzoni, a Harvard Medical School professor and physician who studies health care disparities for people with disabilities. Her research […was] published in the journal Health Affairs in early 2021.

Unfortunately, discriminatory denial of COVID treatment is not unique to Oregon.

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