Aid in dying proposal lacks vital safeguards
Despite recent claims made to The News, proposed aid in dying legislation fails to protect New York’s most vulnerable. For one, the proposed bill’s requirement for witnesses lacks appropriate safeguards. A terminally ill patient could easily be manipulated with an interest in hastening death for monetary or other dubious reasons.
The legislation is severely flawed on other fronts. There are insufficient safeguards against abuse because of the limited number of individuals involved in the decision-making process. The attending physician makes all the decisions; there is no other medical oversight.
A flaw ripe for abuse is that the proposed law allows the doctor who prescribes the lethal dose to then sign the death certificate, which falsely lists the underlying illness as the cause of death instead of the lethal drugs.
The data from Oregon show that assisted-suicide only benefits a small number of people at the upper end of the income scale who have good health insurance coverage and access to medical treatment.
The legislation ignores the availability of pain management to alleviate suffering of the terminally ill. Advocates have spent millions to urge lawmakers to pass legislation under the guise of compassionate care. If they are truly advocates, then they should put their resources toward reducing the pain and suffering of these individuals, not to expedite their death.
Dennis C. Vacco
Partner, Lippes Mathias
Wexler Friedman LLP, Buffalo