“America’s most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, the terminally ill, the disabled, and the depressed, are worthy of life and equal protection under the law,” said AUL’s Deanna Wallace.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (0-28-17) — “States have a duty to protect the lives of all their citizens, especially vulnerable people groups such as the ill, elderly, and disabled; and to maintain the integrity and ethics of the medical profession by rejecting physician-assisted suicide,” said Americans United for Life Staff Attorney Deanna Wallace on Tuesday in written testimony on Hawaii’s SB 1129, which would establish a state sanctioned system for physician assisted suicide. The proposed law would make Hawaii one of only seven states to endorse the controversial practice known as physician-assisted suicide. “A humane society values all people, not merely the healthy and young,” said Wallace.
In her testimony, Wallace observed: “It is critical to protect vulnerable groups—including the poor, the elderly, and disabled persons—from abuse, neglect, and coercion. When considering the risk posed to these vulnerable people groups, assisted suicide can be considered neither a ‘compassionate’ nor an appropriate solution for those who may suffer at the end of life. Many in the bioethics, legal, and medical fields have raised significant questions regarding the existence of abuses and failures in jurisdictions that have approved physician-assisted suicide, including a lack of reporting and accountability, coercion, and failure to assure the competency of the requesting patient. America’s most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, the terminally ill, the disabled, and the depressed, are worthy of life and equal protection under the law.”
Currently, 42 states affirmatively prohibit assisted suicide, and impose criminal penalties on anyone who helps another person end his or her life. The Supreme Court held more than 20 years ago in Washington v. Glucksberg, that there is no fundamental right to assisted suicide in the U.S. Constitution, finding instead that there exists for the states, “an unqualified interest in the preservation of human life, …in preventing suicide, and in studying, identifying, and treating its causes.”
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