My Turn: Lawmakers should reject assisted suicide bill
The New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee is considering legislation (HB 1325) to legalize assisted suicide. This hits home for me, as my husband was very ill.
He had diabetes, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, non-healing blisters on legs that had to be wrapped weekly, a bladder that did not drain, septic shock (twice), c. diff and stroke. He was unable to stand or walk. He had some form of Parkinson’s, speech difficulties, deep sores from sitting and more. He had discomfort, yet he was not a complainer. He lived his life bravely and left a wonderful legacy to his children and grandchildren. The time he had was precious. Though he had pain, the memorable moments outweighed it.
That said, if he had been of a mind to commit suicide, he could have. Almost all the medicines he took would have done the trick. Additionally, if he just wanted to let go, all he had to do was refuse treatment. If he stopped his insulin or his heart medications or treating the various infections, nature would have taken its course.
People seeking assisted suicide have options. They can seek pain relief, which is greatly improved. They could use the methods described for my husband or commit suicide the old-fashioned way.
What I have a problem with is state-sanctioned suicide. I do not want the government determining who is eligible to die. That is a very dangerous precedent. When my loved ones or I go to the doctor, I do not want to have suicide suggested as an option. That is abuse.
With elder abuse rampant in this country, I fear that this will be another deadly avenue to abuse seniors, especially if they have money. I fear for my friends who have disabilities. They are already treated differently. Will their illnesses be treated differently too? Healthy people are talked out of suicide, yet the other will be encouraged to suicide. This is discrimination.
Also, doctors’ predictions can be wrong. We all know people who have outlived the doctors’ estimate. They could be throwing their lives away.
Finally, when assisted suicide is a treatment option, medical care is discouraged. Because the harm to vulnerable populations vastly outweighs the benefit to a handful of individuals, who have other options, we should decline this social experiment to legalize assisted suicide.
(Nancy Elliott lives in Merrimack.)