Suggestion: Suicide prevention for all

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

elderly man with cane on sidewalkA study reveals handicapped people are treated differently than the rest of the population when it comes to doctor-assisted suicide, and one doctor says that is just one of many reasons why the practice should be eliminated.

The National Council on Disability has released a report on bioethics and disability that examines how handicapped people fit into the assisted suicide picture. Shreveport, Louisiana cardiologist Frederick White tells OneNewsNow assisted suicide is often sold to the public based on safeguards in the laws, but the study reveals a different story.

"They found that safeguards that are placed into assisted suicide laws are easily circumvented," he reports. "They are hard to monitor, and they are often just simply not followed by people who participate in this process."

The ones doing the reporting are doctors who provide assisted suicide, so they are not likely to report their own violation of the law.

White

If a person becomes depressed after he loses his job and tells a doctor he is thinking of suicide, then he is handed helpful information, a suicide prevention hotline number, and perhaps encouraged to see a psychologist. But the protocol is different with disabled patients.

"If, on the other hand, you go in and see your doctor and you say, 'I'm tired of living with my disability; I'm tired of taking my medication, and I would like to end my life,' you are routed into a legally sanctioned process that expedites your death," Dr. White relays.

But he continues to explain there is one way in which the disabled and people with fatal diseases are treated the same.

"In some instances they'll tell a Medicaid patient, 'We're not going to pay for a treatment for your cancer, but we will pay for assisted suicide,'" the cardiologist details.

The report recommends that the federal Office of Civil Rights issue a regulation that will eliminate this dual standard and make sure all who seek assisted suicide are given the same treatment in terms of suicide prevention.

"This is not a practice that should be allowed, should not be legalized," Dr. White asserts. "It preys upon impressions, beliefs of people who are struggling with a serious illness, serious disability. And the practice routs them into eventually an easy way out, where the state allows and encourages suicide."

Instead of a federal rule to make sure patients, disabled or not, are treated the same, Dr. White agrees with the report's suggestion to do away with assisted suicide.

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