Maine will become a dangerous place for vulnerable people if the new assisted-suicide law goes into effect. Reckless laws like L.D. 1313 automatically place them at risk for mistakes, coercion and abuse.

Mistaken prognoses can occur and have in many cases. These laws depend upon a doctor’s accurate prediction that a patient has six months or less to live.

My dad was diagnosed 35 years ago with rapidly advanced lung cancer. He was given three months to live. He lived five years with treatment and was able to go on cruises with my mother and enjoy his family long after what his doctor predicted.

In places where assisted suicide has long been legal, we have seen the seriously ill denied coverage for life-extending treatments. We also know that physical pain doesn’t make it into the top five reasons people choose assisted suicide. Instead, end-of-life concerns all involve existential suffering, such as living with an illness-induced disability or the fear of being a burden – all conditions that ought to be resolved in ways other than suicide.

On top of that, the so-called safeguards are inadequate. For example, a study published in 2008 found that some patients who were clinically depressed received lethal medications; that study concluded that Oregon’s assisted-suicide law fails “to protect some patients whose choices are influenced by depression.”

This dangerous public policy is a health risk for so many more than it claims to help. Mainers should utilize the “people’s veto” to block this ill-advised law.

Sue L’Hommedieu

Cape Elizabeth

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