December 02, 2012
Not Dead Yet is a national disability rights group with members in Montana, some of whom are seniors. On behalf of our members, I write to say that we are extremely concerned that assisted suicide, sometimes euphemistically called "aid in dying," could be legalized in Montana.
It is estimated that there are 21,265 cases of elder abuse annually in Montana, reported and unreported (http://www.eadaily.com/15/elder-abuse-statistics).
Statistically, 90 percent of elder abusers are a family member or trusted other. Similarly, people with disabilities are up to four times more likely to be abused than their same-age nondisabled peers.
In Oregon and Washington, legal assisted suicide has opened new paths of abuse against persons who "qualify" to use these laws. A more obvious problem is a complete lack of oversight when the lethal drug is administered. If an abuser were to administer the drug without the person's consent, who would know?
It is simply naive to suggest that assisted suicide can be added to the array of medical treatment options, without taking into account the harsh realities of elder abuse and the related potential for coercion.
For more information about problems with legalization of assisted suicide, please see www.notdeadyet.org and www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org.Diane Coleman,
Not Dead Yet,
Rochester, New York
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